I think we've just about hit rock bottom but I fear we might go even deeper into the rock, but with that said, what strategy should those who have any credibility to lead us use to restore to the Catholic Church what we have lost in such a dramatic and tragic way since Vatican II and more than likely because of it? What had been touted as a new springtime for the Church in reality has led to an extended winter of discontent and depression, little light and certainly no warmth.
I remember it as though it was yesterday. In the early 1980's at one of our clergy conferences, Bishop Lessard gave his talk, a controversial talk that most of the priests then, much older than me, despised.
He said, we need to recover the "majesty of the priesthood." I think he was referring to the fact that we had become so pedestrian, there were some moral problems developing, many didn't wear clerical dress and the Liturgy and other sacraments were being celebrated in sloppy, undignified ways.
I guess the best word to sum things up is that we had become "undignified." Externals didn't matter anymore and internals were questionable.
I am not saying that the priesthood prior to Vatican II was perfect, but the perception of the laity and the world itself was that it was respectable. We've lost that because of Vatican II's pedestrian approach to priesthood and religious life and that we are no different than the laity. The priesthood became "laicized" and the laity became "clericalized."
Without denying the problems of the pre-Vatican II Church and the authoritarianism that often existed as well as paternalism, and the secrecy of clericalism (still alive and well some 50 years or more after Vatican II's new springtime for the Church) what needs to be recovered in that expression of the priesthood and what needs to be maintained in the post-Vatican II expression of the priesthood?
Just what did Bishop Lessard mean in the early 1980's only 15 years after Vatican II that we need to recover the majesty of the priesthood?