(Mary) McAleese questioned the idea of people “who have decided they are not going to have any children, not going to have families, not going to be fathers and not going to be spouses” discussing the matter.
“It is completely bonkers,” she said at a public interview following her receipt of UCD’s famous Ulysses medal on Bloomsday.
“How many of the men who will gather to advise you as pope on the family have ever changed a baby’s nappy? I regard that as a very, very serious question.”
I see her point. “Bonkers” is strong, but I see the point.
And yet I’ve known many priests who are remarkably able in pastoral ministry, who have changed the diapers of nieces and nephews, and who possess keen insight on the matters of love, sacrifice, and commitment.
I wouldn’t be as strict with the necessary credentials for the October meeting. But I would turn away at the door any cardinal who hasn’t prepared a couple for marriage, who hasn’t counseled a marriage in trouble, who hasn’t worked with couples preparing for a child’s baptism, or some similar sacramental encounter. A letter of reference from a non-relative would be absolutely essential.
That would seem about right to me.
And when they consult on priestly life and ministry, likewise, some parallel endorsements from the other side of the thin black line.