Desperate Times – Desperate Strategies

Few priests and many parishes are making Catholics pretty scared. Where is it all heading? Will my parish survive, and if it does, what will it be like?

The other day a parishioner said to me: “I thought the Eucharist was the source and summit of the faith, why does the church seem so unalarmed by the shortage of priests. Aren’t these desperate times deserving of some kind of emergency brainstorming and strategy?” I pointed out that many of us are concerned, very concerned, but there just didn’t seem to be any solution on the horizon. The response to this statement was one of charitable chastisement. “If Rome really cared they’d be doing something about it – they just want the status quo in terms of ordained clergy. Emergency meetings should be taking place all across the country to deal with this situation on a temporary and long term basis. Sitting around hoping and praying that things are going to get better is equivalent to hiding one’s head in the sand as our parishes slowly melt away and our clergy age and die. I’m scandalized!!!! As far as I am concerned there are things that could be done, but Rome isn’t interested in any change.”

At this point in the conversation I thought it would be best to have a few moments of quiet silence – then we changed the subject.

It is so easy to get into the blaming game and I always try to avoid it, as it is very seldom productive. I must admit, however, that most church attending Catholics are very very concerned, but they just don’t know what to do. Maybe it is time for some serious emergency meetings. Desperate times are usually a sign that it is time for desperate measures and strategies. The problem is will anyone call the meetings – and who should call them?

As I was discussing this issue with another person, I was referred to this article in the Australian Paper Catholica: A Plaintiff Cry From the Emptying Pews It definitely describes the concern, but to my mind does not really deal with the priest shortage and the eventual unavailability of Eucharist and the other sacraments, and the closing of parishes. It is more about the people of God taking their rightful place in the Christian community. If any one has other ideas etc. please post in the comments. I would definitely be interested, as would many others.

One thought on “Desperate Times – Desperate Strategies

  1. I am in sympathy with your outraged parishioner. Aside from the peculiar “lay-only parishes” that have existed in remoter parts of mission territories for centuries, one can question whether anything else can be done. Theoretically, the Church has mechanisms that could bring about a massive inpouring of new vocations to the priesthood. The changes required to bring this about would require a broad consensus as can only be obtained at an ecumenical council. But we all suspect that at this juncture, the only outcome imaginable would be a consensus opposing any substantive change to the rules. So what are we left with? We are left with a Church proposing to negotiate the reintegration of schismatic bishops, priests and seminarians belonging to the Society of St. Pius X whose meager numbers have not failed to impress Benedict XVI. I quote his explanatory letter of March 10, 2009 to the Bishops: “Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church? I think for example of the 491 priests. We cannot know how mixed their motives may be. All the same, I do not think that they would have chosen the priesthood if, alongside various distorted and unhealthy elements, they did not have a love for Christ and a desire to proclaim him and, with him, the living God. Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them”
    It scandalizes ordinary people that in the face of such desperate and overwhelming need in the world, so many feel they are called but the Pope and the Bishops choose to call so few!
    Follower of Bruges


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