By a Special Correspondent THE POSSIBILITY of "part-time priests" in Holland emerged from a Press conference on Tuesday at which the Dutch Bishops announced new rules to give 9,000 priests unprecedented freedom in their training and way of life.
Under the new rules priests would be free to live where they like, alone in a house or flat or with other priests. They would help their bishops in deciding where they were to be appointed.
Seminarians would be able to choose the kind of priestly work they wanted to specialise in: youth counselling, chaplains to industry, parish work, etc.
INVITATION Perhaps the most dramatic innovation would be giving seminarians permission to train for non-priestly jobs as well, like teaching, business, office or factory work, enabling them to earn their own living while serving as "part-time priests".
Coupled with these rules was an announcement of a new approach to vocations: a return to the early Christian practice of a bishop inviting a man to become a priest. In future, this could mean inviting married men to become priests.
ADVISORY BUREAU Another development in the Netherlands is a new advisory bureau for priests troubled by the swift changes in the Church, including the 300 who over the past few years have given up their ministry.
The Bishops set it up in Utrecht, in co-operation with the provincial heads of religious orders and the Catholic National Bureau for Mental Health.
The bureau was recommended by a four-year investigation which showed serious tensions in the lives of priests, often aggravated by celibacy. And some of those who left the priesthood appeared to do so because they could not conform with the current developments in the Church.
SJALOOM STUDY Meanwhile, the "Sjaloom" group, which received a stiff warning from the Liturgical Commission in Rome about its mixed Catholic Protestant Eucharistic celebrations, is going to come under study by a representative of the Dutch Bishops' Conference.
Mgr. Jan Groat, VicarGeneral of the Harlem Diocese and the Bishops' delegate for ecumenical affairs, has been appointed to investigate what the Catholics taking part understand their "agape banquets" to mean.
In the little village of Odijk, near Utrecht, the Sjaloom group meets for weekly celebrations which it describes as ecumenical communion services. They are a very small group, but the Dutch Catholic Bishops have been following their experiments with great interest.
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