Sunday, November 28, 2010


Why are so many of the professional jobs in the Church held by dissidents?

by John-Henry Westen

Writing in the pages of the Catholic Register this week, Fr. Raymond J. de Souza makes a very interesting observation and commentary on one of the reflections of the Pope in the new book “Light of the World.”

Speaking of the governing institutions in the Church, Pope Benedict said “The bureaucracy is spent and tired … It is sad that there are what you might call professional Catholics who make a living on their Catholicism, but in whom the spring of faith flows only faintly, in a few scattered drops.”

Commenting on the Pope’s remark, Fr. de Souza observes:

It is easy enough to point to the managerial bishop or the administrative pastor and lament the lack of fervour for the faith and the absence of evangelical criteria in decision-making. But could not the same be said of any diocesan office in Canada, the staff room of any Catholic school, the executive officers of any Catholic social welfare agency or the bureaucrats that administer the vast panoply of Catholic organizations? Is it not the case that so many regard their position as membership in a club or as an officer of an enterprise, but not primarily as disciples or missionaries? The great sadness of which the Holy Father speaks is that over several generations now so many lay Catholics — “professional Catholics” — are marked by a deep adopted clericalism themselves, comporting themselves as members of a privileged caste.

Wow. It reminds me of a quote a friend on the inside once told me while reflecting on the fact that many vibrant, young, and faithful Catholics who would love to offer their all to the Church are left to find work in the secular world. “Why are all the professional jobs in the Church held by dissidents?”

To be sure there are signs of hope. Many dioceses in North America have begun to employ fervent and authentic Catholics. However the old guard remains firmly entrenched in many many places.

Fr. de Souza concludes: “The challenge of moving from a bureaucratic, managerial Church to an evangelical, missionary one is at the heart of Benedict’s message in Light of the World.


Gene said...

I beg to differ...there is a huge difference between a "dissident" and a merely tired, burned-out bureaucrat. The bureaucrat may allow, through indifference, breaches of tradition and decorum. He may not question abuses of one kind or another through laziness or a desire to protect his own job.
But, dissidents occupy Church administrative positions (and all too often clerical ones), with a design to change practice and policy, doctrine and dogma. They are dangerous, deceitful, and determined...and there are too many of them. I think we make a mistake when we assign the concentrated effort to de-construct the Church to mere bureaucratic apathy.

SqueekerLamb said...

It's confirmation to read that clericalism isn't confined to the 'good old days'...apparently it's alive and well in the Diocese of Savannah according to some earlier posts' comments.

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt some people of true and humble faith tire, even Our Lord asked to have the cup taken from him. But He kept his promise and has given similar strength to those who abandon themselves to Him.

It is my observation that while even those of true faith may tire, they are always rejuvenated. They can pace themselves at a very high tempo and accomplish incredible things, sometimes falter, then pick up the pace again. Those that permanently tire, or become distracted, or weaken in their execution don't really have the Fire in them. They mistake their own energy and exuberance for it. So when their own mental energy is spent, there is nothing to keep them going.

You see the same principles at work in physical activities that require great skill. Timing, focus, angles, structure, all can be brought to bear by even the old and weak to accomplish what seems almost miraculous.