Monday, October 9, 2017
HAS THE PHOBIA OF CLERICALISM DESTROYED WHAT ONCE MADE THE PRIESTHOOD ATTRACTIVE TO YOUNGER GENERATIONS OF MEN?
I was reading a story HERE about the so-called creative ways that one Irish diocese is trying to cope with the number of their priests being cut in half in coming years. And currently they don't have one single seminarian.
Like Ireland, some dioceses in the USA have the same problem. So the creative solution is to close parishes, put lay people with no seminary training in charge and hope for the best. Of course what is lost in all of this is Catholic identity, purpose and mission.
For example, there is another story HERE about the Brothers of Charity in Holland who run hospitals and hospices that provide euthanasia. Yes, you read that correctly, Catholic institutions providing euthanasia and we also know some "Catholic" institutions even in this country provide abortions.
When you read the story, you will note that in actuality the Brothers of Charity have handed over their institutions to lay boards of trustees. Who knows who is on these boards or how Catholic they are. Did any of them have seminary or theological graduate work and are they Church going, praying and believing Catholics? Look at so many once Catholic, now Catholic in name only, educational institutions in our country run by lay boards and how the loss of Catholic identity occurs. These instituons become businesses, only concerned about staying open and pleasing their consumers. In fact, many priests will tell you today, that our Catholic schools, once staffed by religious orders of nuns/brothers, now completely lay operated and controlled, no longer have the "best" church going Catholics using our Catholic schools. Many don't go the church anymore, no longer bring their children to Sunday Mass and aren't the most active Catholics in the parish as previous generations of Catholics who used parochial schools were.
Catholics and non Catholics are simply looking for a good, safe education so their children will be sucessful in life. The salvation of their souls isn't even on the radar screen!
But let's look at the once strong culture of the diocesan priesthood and the perks that kept celibate clergy happy and focused on their ministry.
When I was first ordained and for the first 12 or 13 years of my priesthood I experienced this in rectory living:
1. Full time housekeeper(s) who cooked breakfast, lunch and supper.
2. They cleaned our rooms, made the beds each morning and did our laundry.
3. They did our grocery shopping.
4. Because of them, the priest did not worry about what he would prepare or eat each day and seldom went out to eat for fast food or fancy restaurants. I looked forward to meals even when I didn't know what was prepared and the aromas of the cook cooking wafting about the rectory was nice and appetizing!
5. Parishioners supported staff to assist priests living comfortably
Today, most priests do not have full time housekeepers who do the above things. We listened to lay people who didn't like priests living like kings with servants doing this, that and the other for them.
Many said these perks were a result of placing the priest on a pedestal and a deadly form of clericalism and put priests out of touch with ordinary laity who could never afford these kinds of luxuries.
Thus this is what rectory life is for many priests today and in rectories with more than one priest:
1. Most priests cook pre-packaged foods in the microwave or go out to eat, especially at fast food, junk food places. At home they eat empty calories like chips and such! Their health and weight is suffering
2. Most rectories look like dumps with little or no cleanliness and priests living like they could care less about their surroundings.
3. Priests live like bachelors under the same roof, seldom having dinner together unless they go to a restaurant. Every priest is on his own for breakfast, lunch and dinner and eating at various times without other priests joining them.
Which dioceses are doing well with vocations not to mention men and women's religious orders? The ones which have maintained some of the perks and traditions that so many now associate with phobic clericalism.
Why do we not do what is sucessful in other places rather than throw in the towel that leads to the loss of priests leaving the priesthood and no seminarians and hand things over to the laity with no other formation as Catholics other than the coloring book formation they received until they were confirmed?