Felix Maria Davídek

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Felix Maria Davídek (January 21, 1921–18 August 1988) was a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.[1] He was born in Chrlice in what today is the Czech Republic. He was ordained a priest on June 29, 1945 in the diocese of Brno. He was arrested by the Czech secret police and was in prison from 1950 to 1964. He was secretly ordained a bishop by Bishop Jan Blaha, under appeal to pontifical privileges granted from 1951 to 1989 to bishops in communist countries, on October 29, 1967, and was given the assignment to pastor the clandestine or so-called underground Church in Communist Czechoslovakia.[2] He died from complications of an accident in which his skin was badly burned.

Interest in Davídek greatly increased when it was disclosed after his death that, by the account of Ludmila Javorová and others, he had administered the sacrament of Holy Orders to Javorova and perhaps several other women. Bishop Blaha declared any such ordinations would have been invalid. Pope John Paul II, in his 1994 Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, wrote, "In order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance . . . I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."[3]

Other priestly ordinations, even of men, during the period of persecution were possibly invalid, illicit, or irregular, according to Church teaching.

The irregular situation of priests in the Czech Republic in active ministry but the validity of whose ordination was in doubt, was largely resolved by the year 2000 through discussions with the Vatican. In February 2000, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith[4] issued a declaration on the subject, announcing (a) that with regard to celibate priests, a great part (some 50 in all) had accepted the decision of the Pope that they should be conditionally re-ordained, and (b) that a further 22 priests who were married should also be conditionally re-ordained and transferred to the Byzantine-Slav rite as members, for all purposes, of the Exarchate of the Czech Republic.[5] There remained the status of some of the Bishops and priests secretly ordained who had not accepted the norms (for conditional re-ordination) approved by the Pope, specifically because they were convinced they had already been validly ordained. While the Vatican confirmed that "conditional re-ordination" did not exclude the possibility that the men had previously been validly ordained, it held to the view that the doubts over validity were genuine:

"In reality, based on research done on each case, priestly ordination was not always conferred in a valid manner; perhaps in some cases it may have been, but there remained serious doubts about this, especially in the case of ordinations carried out by Bishop Felix Maria Davidek."[6]

It was reported in 1991 that in 1978 the "Vatican ordered Father Davídek to cease performing the duties of a bishop."[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Catholic Hierarchy data page
  2. ^ Declaration On Bishops and Priests Ordained Secretly in the Czech Republic, issued on 11 February 2000 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, §4.
  3. ^ [2] Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
  4. ^ Declaration On Bishops and Priests Ordained Secretly in the Czech Republic
  5. ^ Married priests are permitted in the Byzantine rites; see Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Presbyterorum Ordinis, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, n.16.
  6. ^ Declaration On Bishops and Priests Ordained Secretly in the Czech Republic, §3
  7. ^ Bollag, Burton (April 12, 1991). "Vatican Rejects Secret Priests Ordained in Czechoslovakia". New York Times. p. A1.