The Vatican has requested priests and bishops secretly ordained in Czechoslovakia during the Communist era to come forward and accept the directives offered by Pope John Paul II, in order to resolve doubts about the validity of their ordination.
   In a message released on Monday, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said it wanted to "be sure in conscience that they are really priests," so that they can validly administer the sacraments. Speaking for the Congregation. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger indicated that there are "serious doubts" about the ordinations performed by one bishop, the late Felix Davidek.
   During years of savage repression, the country's "underground Church" conducted clandestine ordinations of priests and even bishops. When the Church won its freedom after the fall of Communism in 1990, the Holy See asked those priests to come forward for a new, "conditional" ordination, to erase any concern that their original ordination may have been invalid. About 50 priests from the underground Church accepted that "conditional" ordination, and are now working in dioceses in the Czech Republic.
   Special questions swirled around the status of some married men who had been secretly ordained, since the Latin rite does not allow for married priests. In 1997, the Vatican suggested that of these priests could be incorporated into the Byzantine-rite Catholic Church, and 18 men have subsequently chosen that option. However, some of the priests who had been secretly ordained have not yet come forward.
CWN 15/2/00

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