READ WHAT'S HAPPENING IN A WISCONSIN PARISH BY PRESSING HERE FOR THE NCR'S ARTICLE: Wisconsin bishop threatens denial of sacraments for 'rumors and gossip'.
UPDATE: FOR THE REST OF THE STORY, READ BISHOP MORLINO'S APRIL 25TH LETTER BY PRESSING HERE. YIKES AGAIN.
Evidently a group of very conservative priests have dismantled post-Vatican II practices in a somewhat conservative town and parish creating division and hostility amongst the parishioners there. It has become so bad that the collection is down dramatically, the elementary school was forced to close and now the bishop is threatening to excommunicate parishioners.
I think that most of this could have been avoided and that the priests in the parish may have brought this on themselves. But it does beg the question, have we since Vatican II so emphasized the horizontal nature of the Church and maybe to the neglect of our vertical relationship to God that when the horizontal aspects a lay involvement in the parish are taken away, so too their faith? So the question is, where is their faith, in lay participation and decision making or in God and the salvation of their souls and their rightful place at home, work and play? Power plays that cause people to cease being practicing Catholics is very odd, especially since being Catholic is the way God saves our souls from hell and damnation. We're not a civic club where we pay dues, we are the Church and the Church is about love, forgiveness, reconciliation and the promise of eternal life. Do Catholics today prefer a "civic club" approach to Church where they can do good and is salvation taking a backseat to that? Just asking.
But let me say emphatically that in terms of lay participation and the theology of Catholic Stewardship, whatever a parish can do through the leadership of their priests to keep people actively engaged in the life of the parish will translate into a vibrant, active parish and giving will increase, not only financially but in time spent with God in prayer, meditation, Mass and catechesis and one's talent shared with the Church.
I'm aware too, though, that while this NCR story appears to be fair and balanced, it may not contain the whole story, but from reading it I think that the priests acted a bit too fast and alienated many people. But the Lord does test the faith of people and maybe these priests were sent to them to test their faith and to see if their faith is in the right place (in God) or somewhere else. Just wondering.