Sunday, November 27
Vatican Congregation Issues Document
The Vatican has issued a long-awaited document on the admission of Protestant Minsiters to the sacraments of initiation.
According to the edict, all potential converts must shave their Protestant Minister Beards. Ministers who have sported The Protestant Beard in the past may still join the Church, if they have overcome Beard tendencies for at least three years, the draft says.
"If an RCIA candidate sports the Protestant Minister Beard, or presents deep-seated Beard tendencies, his sponsor and pastor have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards conversion without a personal encounter with Gillette razors," it says.
"Such persons in fact find themselves in a situation that presents a significant obstacle to a correct relationship with cradle Catholics, especially those over the age of 65."
The ruling comes in response to a growing trend within the Catholic Church, where Protestant Minister Converts are believed to account for a surprisingly high percentage of Catholic authors and intellectuals.
The document makes no reference to ministers who have already converted, but only to those about to join enter RCIA. Critics have already objected that many potential converts might feel they have no choice but to lie about their facial hair preferences.
The five-page document, drafted by the Vatican's Congregration for the Discipline of the Sacraments and approved by Pope Benedict on 31 August, describes the Protestant Minister Beard as a "fashion faux pas" that cannot be justified under any circumstances.
American Catholics are divided over the new policy. "I think it is very important to emphasize the important contribution which Protestant Minister Converts have made to the Church," remarked a high-ranking EWTN official.
"While these new rules may be well-intentioned, we run the risk of undermining the many converts who still love their Minister Beards, yet have served the Church faithfully since their conversion."
The new guidelines were prompted by a 2002 incident at Divine Mercy Gifts. At that time, Italian grandmother Dolores Giordano --while looking for a novena to St. Anthony-- was scandalized to discover a large number of books which appeared to be authored by Protestant ministers. Only after much heated discussion with proprietor was a wary Giordano convinced of the tomes' Catholicity.