Card. Mahony maps out challenges for ministry in the future

In his regular Friday missive John L Allen, Jr., the nearly ubiquitous fair-minded correspondent for the dissenting NCR, reports on the content of an address given by the Archbishop of LA, His Eminence Roger Card. Mahony this week about ministry to a National Federation of Priests’ Councils convention in San Antonio.

Card. Mahony, according to Allen, "at one point he sketched 17 specific challenges facing the church, saying his aim was not to present definitive positions but to foster discussion."

The following summary is based on excerpts from Mahony’s San Antonio address.

Challenges cited by the cardinal include (my emphases and comments):

  • 1. “Some really harsh generational divides” among priests, “with the younger generation often quite openly challenging the orthodoxy of older priests.” [And it's about time, too.]
  • 2. A need for “welcome and hospitality” in parishes. (Mahony offered a practical example: “On several occasions I have called parish offices and got entangled in the web of voicemail menu choices, trying to extract myself from the non-stop options without ever being able to speak to a real, live person.”)  [I think we can all harmonize with that!]
  • 3. In light of the priest shortage, deacons are increasingly being formed to administer priestless parishes. Does that risk “undermining the integrity of the diaconate as a ministry distinct from the ministerial priesthood”?  [We still need a lot of work and thought on what the permanent diaconate is about in the face of a shortage of priests.]
  • 4. Offering “proper theological and pastoral formation” for lay ministers, at a time when the economy is prompting greater reliance on volunteers and deacons.  [I would settle for the basics in the Baltimore Catechism!]
  • 5. How to foster a strong identity among young priests, without making them “less collaborative, less flexible,” and more inclined to throw their weight around. (Mahony appended what he said is a true story: “One of our seminary professors asked a first year seminarian: Why have you asked your bishop to transfer you to another seminary? Answer: Because the priests, sisters and professors at Saint John’s Seminary want to give the church to the laity!”)  [Aside from the unfortunate expression, I think we know what that seminarian meant.]
  • 6. Taking a “hard look” at the changing face of seminarians in terms of age, culture, and language. (“Do we realize,” Mahony asked, “that some of our seminarians from diverse cultures have little or no interest in what many of us think of as ‘multiculturalism’?")  [Or maybe they aren't obsessed by it?]
  • 7. “Too many liturgies and homilies are not what they might be, often because of a lack of a good grasp of Scripture as the basis for homilies and for liturgy planning.” [How about just saying the black and doing the red?]
  • 8. “A slowing down of ecumenical efforts at the local level, and at all levels.”  [Or could it be that some people are rethinking what true ecumenism involves?]
  • 9. A “weakening” of social concern among parishioners, driven in some cases by moral and political disagreement. (Mahony cited an example: “The church’s current efforts at comprehensive immigration reform have often been met with outright denunciation as the anti-immigrant mood takes deeper root.”)  [This may be more economic than political.  I am suspicious when I social issues immediately politicized.]
  • 10. Threats to parish unity from “the re-introduction of the Latin Mass and more ‘sacred’ liturgies, which have the effect of creating two parallel communities.[Oh YAH?  Well that can be healed from the head down. Don't get me started.]
  • 11. How to articulate the church’s positions on sexuality “in a plausible and compelling way.”  [I think the Church has more than mere "positions" on sexuality.]
  • 12. “More parish retreats, to give people an inexpensive and parish-related quiet time.”  [Instead of the constant dissonant noise of their parish Masses?  No wait... this is serious.  Actually, this is a good idea.]
  • 13. A “poorly realized renewal of reconciliation ministry within parishes — especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”  [Within all that gobbledygook is, I think, a statement that we need to get people to go to confession... we need priests to hear confessions.  Was that it?]
  • 14. Training laity to provide spiritual direction, “as part of a larger spiritual renewal ministry in the parish.”  [I have a bad feeling about that idea.]
  • 15. “The nagging problem of too many people getting children baptized, and getting married, outside their own parish.”  [This is a practical reality: people will go where they choose.]
  • 16. “Not enough attention to a communal approach to the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, as an integral part of a community’s care for the sick.”  [Grrr.... another iffy idea.  I am all for parish support of the sick.  But let's remember that the sacrament is not conferred by a community and we shouldn't give that impression.  Let's start with catechism about the sacrament.]
  • 17. Greater interaction among all the parishes in a diocese, especially “where there are many social classes and many cultural groups.”  [Could be a good idea.  Certainly that is the case with education.  It could be a good idea also for helping the needy.]

I will leave the combox open. 

But don’t think even for a second that that is an invitation to post knuckle-headed comments about the person of Card. Mahony.  I will lock you out if you do.

Stick to the points…. they are fodder enough for discussion.

Discuss by number.

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138 Responses to Card. Mahony maps out challenges for ministry in the future

  1. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    It’s all about the hermeneutic.

    Point 10 might be re-written to read: Threats to parish unity from the “introduction of liturgical abuses and more ‘profane’ liturgies, which have the effect of creating two parallel communities.”

    Many of these points, which could be flipped like this, are actually the points made on WDTPRS, but viewed from the ‘other side’. Thus, quite an interesting read. In the same vein, the noted generational trends in priests (points 1, 5) are viewed as a problem for correction rather than a solution to be embraced. It’s all about the hermeneutic!

  2. Fr. Charles says:

    #15 is a real challenge where I minister. We have a parish with a glorious and vibrant past but a more modest present. Therefore, it’s more the kind of place someone is from than somewhere you actually worship. Thus I spend a lot of time trying to convince folks who now live hours away to join and baptize their children in the parish where they actually live rather than returning to the ancestral home which the baptizandi themselves will not know as they group up. It can be very hard to convince them that infant baptism is about looking forward to the Catholic life of the child rather than looking back with a religious nostalgia for the past.

  3. A Random Friar says:

    1. To be fair, the older, older guys tend to side with the younger guys. Kind of like how grandma and junior gang up on how mom does things at home. ;)

    2. AMEN.

    3. It would be nice to recover a full sense of the diaconate. They are NOT “almost priests.” But most parishes don’t let them do their liturgical functions, either.

    4. I agree with Fr. Z. Let’s start with something simple and orthodox for most people, then move into deeper territory. Too many people get lost when they get a pet theology or cause, and they don’t realize it’s heretical.

    5. I believe in collaboration. I also believe that we all have our role. I think pastors need to rely on the expertise of the laity in their fields more and more. At the same time, delegation does not mean lack of leadership or responsibility, especially in liturgy. Liturgy is not an art medium for folks to “express themselves creatively” or “form meaning.”

    6. What many mean by “multi-culturalism” is really patronizing. “Oh, we’ll let you do that cute native dance, or wear that cute costume. But don’t challenge our politics or theology.”

    7. I agree with the Cardinal here, if I understand him correctly. First, pick a hymn that has SOMETHING to do with the feast, if at all possible. I once did a Mass for the Exaltation of the Cross, where none of the musicians had any music prepared to point this out. It was all very happy, sappy stuff. Totally incongruous. Likewise, we generally preach on the Lectionary given to us in most cases, not on some show we watched, or some cause we like. There are times when it’s proper to “digress,” but the homily should focus on the Word, and on the action of the Mass, not on extraneous or personal stuff.

    8. Ecumenism sadly means “lowest common denominator” for many, not true dialog, as our Holy Father asks.

    That’s enough out of me for now.

  4. A Random Friar says:

    Oops, one more. For #10, the use of various ethnic Masses already makes “different” communities, more so than Latin. This is not necessarily a bad thing. When we force the various communities together into Masses where a snippet here is in one language, another in that, yet another in something else… the Mass becomes more about highlighting our separation, really.

  5. David D. says:

    Taken as whole, the Cardinal’s various points, as summarized, clesarly illustrate his first: generational divide. Most of the threats and problems (e.g., increase in “Latin Mass and more ‘sacred’ liturgies”) perceived by the Cardinal appear related to the reassertion of orthodoxy by, no doubt, younger more traditionally minded priests. By contrast, his solutions are nothing but bland reiterations of the ideas (e.g., “Training laity to provide spiritual direction”) that have failed the Church for the past 40 years.

  6. Bruce says:

    Points #1 & #5. From my experience in my Diocese the younger Priest’s are collaborative & flexible with an individual Catholic’s failings and struggles but not about the truths of the faith. I think Catholics on the left see the orthodoxy & strong Catholic identity of the younger Priest’s and assume that they are “less collaborative, less flexible”, but what I see is a fidelity to the Church. Also I have noticed that the younger Priests are more Christocentric.

  7. cathguy says:

    Number 5 is interesting.

    First, the seminarian’s comment is unfortunate. However there is truth there, IF we assume he meant something more nuanced than what he actually said. Without further clarification it is impossible to judge.

    Furthermore, we face a reality of a priest “shortage” (although, one holy priest I know recently pointed out that the wealth of vocations of prior generations in the US was really an abnormality in the history of the Church and that we may be returning to a more normal situation… interesting thought)

    Also, context is important. Those protestant denominations with married clergy and woman clergy are ALSO facing shortages in the ministry, with fewer people in the pews and fewer people to minister to them. The argument can clearly be made that Christianity is in decline in the West. To say so is not apocalyptic. The thing to take away here is that the liberal solutions (married priesthood is a possibility, woman priests is an impossibility) would likely not help the current “crisis.”

    The Cardinal’s comments on balkanization of our parishes and diocese is old news and is way too little WAY too late. (point 10).

    There is NOT A SINGLE DIOCESE I have seen without both a gay friendly parish and traditional parish. There isn’t a diocese I have seen without the “orthodox magnet parish” where people drive from MILES AND MILES around. This is the reality. For His Eminence to talk about the Latin Mass causing this problem (or exacerbating it) is simply ABSURD. The reintroduction of the Mass of the Ages is simply making a clearly pre-existing problem more visible. That is all. For Cardinal Mahony to miss this betrays, to my mind, a lack of understanding and discernment regarding the level of balkanization that has already occurred in the US, and in his diocese. This balkanization was arguably exacerbated in his diocese during his watch. (Fr. Z, I can’t see how it would be even close to the line to point this out.)

  8. Dr. Eric says:

    3. In light of the priest shortage, deacons are increasingly being formed to administer priestless parishes. Does that risk “undermining the integrity of the diaconate as a ministry distinct from the ministerial priesthood”?

    It seems to me that from reading the Catholic Encyclopedia topic on the Diaconate, that in the earlier days of Christianity, before the Middle Ages, Deacons did perform administrative and judicial functions. I think this would let priests become more free to administer the Sacraments and to pray more. This is even more apparent in the article on the Archdeacon:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01693a.htm

    Also, it appears that the Extraneous Eucharistic Ministers have usurped many of the functions of the Deacon at Mass.

    4. Offering “proper theological and pastoral formation” for lay ministers, at a time when the economy is prompting greater reliance on volunteers and deacons. [I would settle for the basics in the Baltimore Catechism!]

    I second the Baltimore Catechism, I think that the little gray book should be mandatory for all Catholics 10 and older. I also have read that the Deacons were used in the Early Church as one of the primary Catechists.

    12. “More parish retreats, to give people an inexpensive and parish-related quiet time.” [Instead of the constant dissonant noise of their parish Masses? No wait… this is serious. Actually, this is a good idea.]

    I have to respectfully disagree with our good Father on this one. In the overwhelming majority of these “retreats” heretical and pagan gobbledygook is taught as Catholic doctrine and practices.

    14. Training laity to provide spiritual direction, “as part of a larger spiritual renewal ministry in the parish.” [I have a bad feeling about that idea.]

    I agree with Father on this and I think what I wrote above goes for this one as well.

    17. Greater interaction among all the parishes in a diocese, especially “where there are many social classes and many cultural groups.” [Could be a good idea. Certainly that is the case with education. It could be a good idea also for helping the needy.]

    Didn’t we do this one back in the day? Weren’t there dances with St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s renting a hall and mingling? Wasn’t this a way to get young Catholic people together from different parishes to keep parishes from “in breeding” ;-)

  9. Not Getting Creaky Just Yet says:

    “In light of the priest shortage, deacons are increasingly being formed to administer priestless parishes. Does that risk “undermining the integrity of the diaconate as a ministry distinct from the ministerial priesthood”?”
    Speaking as a lay person, an ordained individual, with the extra graces Ordination gives him, is bound to be better than the “pastoral administratrix” that is sure she knows better than all those silly visiting priests. Weren’t deacons first separated from priests because there were loads of pastor-type tasks that took up time that the Apostles needed to give to the preaching of the Gospel? ISTM that having deacons run parishes under the supervision of a priest (who necessarily has multiple parishes, each run by a deacon) is more in keeping with the Apostles’ solution to this than the “pantsuited nuns” are. Better yet, of course, is an increase in sons and daughters, and an increase in vocations.
    In service of this, how about we all say positive things when somebody turns up expecting their third or later child? And not get our panties in a twist if people who have small children can’t volunteer for yet another job or go to yet another workshop. It’s a culture thing: we need to encourage the folks, who often find that their own parents are discouraging children beyond the first or second. (God alone knows why!)
    And pray for priests, seminarians, deacons, bishops, and more vocations.
    Just my 2 cents.

  10. M.D. says:

    Point #5…How to foster a strong identity among young priests…

    I’m not sure if that is totally the case at St. John’s Seminary. I had two buddies leave there three years ago because of all the craziness that was going on over there.

    Point #10…Threats to parish unity from “the re-introduction of the Latin Mass…

    Well duh! Of course you are going to have threats to parish unity when you have liturgical dancers running around claiming that this is authentic liturgy.

    Point #14…Training laity to provide spiritual direction…bad idea! Spiritual direction is a very delicate matter and something that should not be manufactured by weekend training sessions at the local parish.

  11. I feel that point #11 should have been “greater environmental awareness” among younger priests.

  12. chironomo says:

    Points 1 – 5 & 6…

    It’s seems that Cardinal Mahony is lamenting the fact that the younger generation of Seminarians and Priests are no longer clinging to the “Spirit of Vatican II” menatality, and are turning instead to the actual teachings of the Church.

    Point #10…

    This is a man who is truly afraid.

  13. Thank you, Father, and Card. Mahony for laying out the problems so clearly. In the FSSP chapel my wife and some of my seven adult children attend, we have four priests, no deacons, lectors, female altar servers or Eucharistic Ministers! Do you know what our parish enjoys? A TREMENDOUS SENSE OF ORDER. Everyone knows and is happy in their roles. When I read Card. Mahony’s list, I could only think of CHAOS.

  14. fh in Houston says:

    Challege #18: How to foster an Orthodox priesthood and put them into proper leadership roles within presbyteriate so that when I retire, the Pope does not have to select a Bishop from a diocese 2000 or more miles away to replace me.

  15. TJM says:

    I agree with His Eminence on only one point – his criticism of voicemail instead of a live person at the rectory answering the phone. Other than that,
    His Eminence broke no new ground but instead offered the same, tired old liberal bromides as the solution when instead these ideas have greatly undermined the Church’s mission and demoralized orthodox laity. I do note that by his tone he is very afraid because he realizes, although he
    would never admit it, that it was his generation of priests and their minions, who messed things up and that the younger ones who reject their
    Kumbaya view of the world will aid in the restoration of Catholicism in union with the Church’s tradition. Tom

  16. chironomo says:

    Some of the commenters here may be too young to remember Cardinal Mahony’s “Guide for Sunday Mass: Gather Faithfully Together”(1997)

    The above 17 points all flow from this document and it’s laity-driven vision for the Church. He seems to be upset that orthodoxy has stepped in and ruined the multi-cultural ecumenical socially sensitive laity empowering party he had planned for the Church.

  17. Marcin says:

    #14.:
    If it means larger presence of holy monks (not in the Orders) and nuns (hence _laymen_) and their ministry to the Church in a way of Eastern Elders, I am all for it. But _trained_ “as part of a larger spiritual renewal ministry in the parish.” ? Na, na, booboo. Stay away from parish committees.

    Spiritual Directors/Father/Mothers don’t graduate from the schools or diocesan courses as EMHC do, they grow nourished by the dew of the Holy Spirit. (I can’t help but an image of mushrooms in a forest comes to mind…)

  18. Rancher says:

    This is not intended as a knuckle headed comment and hopefully it will not be perceived that way. This list from the Cardinal makes it abundantly clear that his perspective constitutes part of the problem and not part of the solution. His focus on the feel good stuff rather than the substance of what the Church teaches explains a lot of what goes on and does not go on in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It also explains why he almost never takes public positions on issues such as the NDU fiasco.

    I grew up in the AD of LA and some of his predecessors must be turning over in their graves at the lack of attention to orthodoxy that best describes that Archdiocese today.

  19. tertullian says:

    Card. Mahony was born and raised 10 minutes from St Victor’s, mentioned in the other thread about it’s celebration of the EF.

  20. Virgil says:

    11. How to articulate the church’s positions on sexuality “in a plausible and compelling way.”

    I offer the following contrast.

    (1) The Catechism of the Catholic Church #2359… dominii virtutibus quae libertatem educant interiorem, quandoque amicitiae gratuitae auxilio, oratione et gratia sacramentali, possunt et debent ad perfectionem christianam gradatim et obfirmate appropinquare.

    In other words, gay couples (amicitiae gratuitae auxilio) help build each other up in the call to holiness. The preceeding two paragraphs deal clearly and kindly with the fact that gay couples must refrain from “disorder” in the bedroom and must be supported against suffering caused by unjust discrimination outside.

    (2) Bishop Tobin, commented on in an earlier post of Fr Z, implies that all gay couples are in “morally bankrupt relationships” and worries that some even work within the Church “despite their immoral gay lifestyles.”

    I think this is an example of confusion and scandal. I respect Bishop Tobin as a prince of the Church, but I struggle to reconcile his words with the teaching of the Church.

    Mahoney’s point? The messages of him and his fellow bishops, that entire swaths of their flocks are bankrupt and immoral, are neither plausible nor compelling.

    Tobin’s next step? How about a plausible description of what the Cathechism means for gay and lesbian couples? What does it mean to be faithful to each other in “amicitiae gratuitae auxilio?” And make it compelling enough that the elected representatives of the most Catholic state in the Union will protect this call to holiness.

  21. stb says:

    Regarding point 9: this “weakening of social concern” is partially due to the fact that bishops often want us to support causes and organizations which are openly against the magisterium of the Church. Recent scandal with Development and Peace in Canada is a prime example.

  22. Mattk says:

    10. Threats to “parish unity”
    I honestly don’t understand what is meant by this. At my parish we have some that go to 8:30 Mass and some that go to 10:30 Mass. I don’t think we are any less unified because of it(although it might not be a bad idea to just have one Mass and people adjust their schedules accordingly, and not the other way around).

    Also, if the NO Mass in his archdiocese is fulfilling the spiritual needs of the parishioners then why are they seeking out the Usus Antiquior. The Universal Church should provide for different valid spiritualities even if it is not the preferred style of the metropolitan. Would it be said that the Franciscan spirituality is causing disunity in the diocese and all must conform to the Dominican spirituality to “avoid parallel communities”?

  23. Trevor says:

    The Cardinal seems quite concerned (worried?) about the younger generation of priests. Many of these suggestions seem like they’re meant to “stretch” the young priests and seminarians.

  24. Maureen says:

    Let’s focus on the positive. The archbishop did in fact identify a good number of the problems that need solving, and his answers, while vague, are also not anything that will stand in the way of people figuing out solutions. Compared to a lot of stuff that comes out, it’s actually a stunningly pastoral document. I can see that he’s trying. That’s much better than a few years back.

    Re: baptizing in other parishes

    Most people aren’t expecting to live all their lives in the parish where they presently live, I expect. So really, going to the ancestral parish is actually a bit more sensible than trying to remember, years later, whether your kid was baptized in Pairsh #3 or #5.

  25. Threats to parish unity from “the re-introduction of the Latin Mass and more ‘sacred’ liturgies, which have the effect of creating two parallel communities.”

    Actually, hasn’t the vernacular Mass done more to foster disunity? Seriously. With Masses in various languages, we have ethnic enclaves within parishes whose members rarely intermingle even for worship.

    There was great foolishness in setting aside Latin as the language of the liturgy. The Latin was a mark of unity and universality. Perhaps we needed to have the experience of the Tower of Babel in order to realize it.

  26. TJM says:

    Anita Moore, you touched on an excellent point that vernacular Masses, rather than foster unity among Catholics of different cultures and ethnicities, have themselves become divisive. Today we are balkanized into our little language groups. Perhaps that is why on the eve of the Second Vatican Council John XXIII issued Veterum Sapientia which stated that “Latin is the language that joins the Church of TODAY.” Please note the emphasis, today, nor yesterday. Of course His Eminence likely resides in a liberal echo chamber where no one challenges him or his ideas, nor points out that his views on this subject display blatant
    disrespect for Benedict XVI who towers over him in intellect and ability. Tom

  27. RJM says:

    Unfortunately, I think Cardinal Mahony might have a valid concern about the development of two parallel communities. But, I think he’s misguided to place the blame on the reintroduction of the “Latin Mass.” It seems to me that if the Novus Ordo was celebrated according to the rubrics and in line w/ documents like Sacramentum Caritatis there would not be such a wide divide between those attached to the TLM and the rest of the worshiping community. Until the overall liturgical scene improves, some Catholics will continue to take refuge, so to speak, in the traditional form and some will project their participation in the TLM as an identity marker. But, the blame doesn’t fall on traditionalists, who are w/in their juridical bounds and honoring the liturgical norms.

  28. irishgirl says:

    Two words I can’t stand….’collaberation’ and ‘lay ministry’.

    I’m glad I go to the EF Mass….

    What is needed is praying for, and encouragement of, more priestly vocations. If we had more priests, there would be less lay ministers.

    Just my say….

  29. Richard says:

    “More parish retreats, to give people an inexpensive and parish-related quiet time.”

    Fine in principle, but they’ll be run by the same sort of lay women who try to take over the liturgy. This links to number 14, “Training laity to provide spiritual direction”

  30. a catechist says:

    #14 I think the problem with this suggestion is the implied professionalization of spiritual direction: go through a program, get a certificate, start making appointments. I don’t think there’s anything about the lay state that’s inherently a barrier to spiritual direction, if it is understood as a natural consequence of a life of holiness and sound knowledge of the faith (no certificate or tuition required!)

    While I disagree with the professionalized view of spiritual direction, the Card. is right to note that there’s a great need for spiritual direction. In the dioc. where I live, it is essentially impossible to obtain spiritual direction. We participate in a program that trains priests to give sp. direction to their brother priests, and I have to laud that & the bishop who supports it. But a lay person seeking direction has virtually no options at all. Even women whose husbands are soon to become deacons, or who are deacons already, cannot find sp. directors. And that’s not peculiar to my current diocese; in some dioceses any lay person seeking direction in the parish is automatically sent to a retreat ctr. and told to “audition” directors till you find one who seems like a “good fit” and you can pay for.

    From my limited experience, the sad part is that it’s folks who are mostly faithful and folks who are already fervent & well-formed who most suffer from the lack of spiritual direction.

    And frankly, I think more spiritual direction available to married people from other married people about NFP would really help promote a culture of life, esp. for couples who practice NFP for many years and “burn out” in their 40s and are tempted to sterilization. Since a disproportionate number of our few, precious priestly vocations come from families open to life, I really think sp. direction for such couples should be a priority for bishops!

  31. ssoldie says:

    Mother Angelica’s take on Cardinal Mahony then ” Gather Faithfully Togather” Sept 4 1997, and after reading it she was right on. In his lateast commentry’s, I find it’s the same o same o, Mother was right then and if she could speak she would take him on again. But then she really has said it all. What a great catechesis she was and is. http://aquinas-multimedia.com/catherine/angelica.html

  32. Clement says:

    Rev. Father Zuhlsdorf,

    As you very clearly pointed out.

    Everything that the Church has always and everywhere taught for the salvation of mankind is in the Baltimore Catechism. [Actually, I didn't point that out. I didn't write that. I think that enough of the basics for a decision about your life and salvation is presented in the BC, but I don't think everything is in it. What I wrote is that I would settle for people knowing the basics of the Faith. Let's start there.]

    As long as this is taught by parents and teachers, to all Catholics’ then we will learn all that we need to learn about going to heaven.

  33. Denise in CA says:

    Virgil said:
    “Bishop Tobin, commented on in an earlier post of Fr Z, implies that all gay couples are in “morally bankrupt relationships” and worries that some even work within the Church “despite their immoral gay lifestyles.”

    “I think this is an example of confusion and scandal. I respect Bishop Tobin as a prince of the Church, but I struggle to reconcile his words with the teaching of the Church.”

    ****

    Homosexual behavior is a sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance. Bishop Tobin is teaching the unchanging truth, what the Church has always taught. That the catechism emphasizes charity to sinners is not surprising but Bishop Tobin is reacting to the current push to legitimize a very grave, unnatural act. It is Cardinal Mahony that causes confusion when he doesn’t teach this unchanging truth. [This entry is NOT about Bp. Tobin's letter.]

  34. Michael says:

    Ad3 – “Does” the introduction of deaconate ” risk ‘undermining the integrity of the diaconate as a ministry distinct from the ministerial priesthood’?” No, it is undermining the ministerial priesthood.

    Ad4 – “Offering ‘proper theological and pastoral formation’ for lay ministers.” – Impossible: all sorts of nonsense would go under “proper…formation”. Lay ministry should be about cleaning the church, clearing the notice boards, repairing the buildings, clerical work and like.

    Ad5 – “How to foster a strong identity among young priests, without making them ‘less collaborative, less flexible’ ” – Reassure them by example.

    Ad6 – “Taking a ‘hard look’ at the changing face of seminarians in terms of age, culture, and language”. – Pay attention to essentials of Faith, and do not waste time on quasi-relevant activities, which are of peripheral importance for priests.

    Ad7 – “Too many liturgies and homilies are not what they might be, often because of a lack of a good grasp of Scripture as the basis for homilies and for liturgy planning.” – The OF should be tridentized, the EF should be the main Sunday Mass; Sunday homilies should not be delegated but prepared by a bishop who is the true Teacher of his flock. As we have it now, our Ordinaries are not teaching us at all.

    Ad8 – “A slowing down of ecumenical efforts at the local level, and at all levels.” It is the great blessing. These “ecumenical” efforts are a menace. Should be replaced with the ecumenism proposed by the Vatican IL

    Ad10 – “Threats to parish unity from ‘the re-introduction of the Latin Mass and more ‘sacred’ liturgies, which have the effect of creating two parallel communities.’ ” – The present OF and its pseudoliturgies are the real threat.

    Ad11 – “ ‘How to articulate the church’s positions on sexuality’ in a plausible and compelling way.” – An impossible task so long as those who are sent by Our Lord to articulate that “position” do not firmly believe it themselves.

    Ad12 – “More parish retreats, to give people an inexpensive and parish-related quiet time.” – Kudos, provided they are true retreats and not dissident talking shops.

    Ad13 – “A ‘poorly realized renewal of reconciliation ministry within parishes—especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation’ ” – It will remain poorly realized so long as there is no notion of mortal sin in the mind of those who are supposed to teach us or those who administer the Sacrament.

    Ad14 – “ ‘Training laity to provide spiritual direction,’ as part of a larger spiritual renewal ministry in the parish.” – To be scrapped, so long as those who are supposed to train are not personally vetted by an Ordinary.

    Ad16 – “Not enough attention to a communal approach to the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, as an integral part of a community’s care for the sick.” – The communnal approach is meaningless so long as (a) it is not made clear, again and again, that one must first receive absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, (b) that a reception of the Anointing by a healthy person is invalid.

  35. Dr. Eric says:

    Michael,

    Re: #3 The Diaconate does not undermine the ministerial priesthood. See my post above.

  36. LCB says:

    It is my opinion that #17 is the lynchpin.

    If each parish did not have its own liturgy, and its own way of doing everything, then there would be more authentic unity within the Church. From this issue flows many problems, and any potential solutions.

    Every parish should have the Church’s liturgy, done the way the Church intends. Once you have the foundation down right, many other matters begin to resolve themselves.

  37. Tina says:

    Lay ministry should be about cleaning the church, clearing the notice boards, repairing the buildings, clerical work and like.

    Right. We aren’t going to be able to go back to the days of pray, pay and obey.

    Heaven forbid lay ministry helps more people decide to be Catholics or helps current Catholics stay in touch with their faith.

  38. RBrown says:

    4. Offering “proper theological and pastoral formation” for lay ministers, at a time when the economy is prompting greater reliance on volunteers and deacons.

    I would say the problem is more a matter of offering proper theological and pastoral formation to priests.

  39. pelerin says:

    A couple of comments have mentioned that in their opinion the vernacular merely divides.

    I had a good example of that while waiting for Mass to begin in Lourdes one day. A lady leaned over to me and asked whether the Mass was in Italian. When I told her that no it was in French, she and her entire family got up and walked out.

    Now if it had been in Latin …. we would all have been following the same Mass in our Missals in our own languages.

  40. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    As these specific points show: Card M and the LA diocese (like a number of other diocese in CA) are stuck in a time warp of the church from the 70s-90s, without being too affected by the “new orthodoxy.” Why anybody even goes to Mass there I don’t know. Seems like a total waste of time. On the other hand, a lot of people, especially the married with children, are looking for a lifestyle religion, something easy to drag the kids to once a week for a sprinkling of religion on their lives that they can maybe mention around the water cooler, depending on where they work. Internally, the church is run by a bunch of aging radicals and their addled younger disciples. Nobody cares anymore but there’s nothing anybody can really do about it. I would suggest just writing these people off.

  41. LCB says:

    Dr. Eric,

    In my experience Deacons are often perceived as “the priests who get to marry.”

    Because the mass is so poorly understood, the role of the deacon on the altar is poorly understood.

  42. LCB says:

    Tina, you have created an unfair strawman argument.

  43. Stephen says:

    Regarding 10 I have seen more of the split parish coming from parishes where there exist Anglo and Hispanic populations, they each have their own everything and only get together for a summer program. My experience of parishes which are proud to offer both forms of the Roman Rite do not run into the problem of “two churches”.

    Regarding 15 if he means outside of the Church that is a big problem, if he means outside of their parish church, I know very few who are willing to get married in an ugly church and so would rather go across town (or diocese) to have a wedding in a church that examples Church.

  44. Fr. Charles says:

    Re: #15. Just a clarification on my comment, based on Maureen’s response to the post. Baptizing a child in the ancestral rather than domicilic parish may be fine for those who are practicing Catholics, but the situation I usually have is those who have not practiced their faith since moving away from the ancestral parish. That’s why I recommend that they take the opportunity to reconnect where they are rather than where they or their grandparents have been.

  45. Tomas says:

    3. “Does that risk ‘undermining the integrity of the diaconate as a ministry distinct from the ministerial priesthood’?”

    You would think Mahony would be more concerned with undermining the integrity of the priesthood…

    Much of this language reminds me of Bernardin: devious double-talk which sounds enough like one thing, but which is intended to mean something quite different (i.e. quite unacceptable to tradition).

  46. Kate says:

    6. Multiculturalism: Went to a confirmation practice as a sponsor last week. The candidates practiced with a priest. About a quarter were Hispanic, a tenth Vietnamese. At the practice, everyone responded beautifully in English. At the actual Sacrament the next night, the Bishop asked every Hispanic-looking youth if he would like the sacrament in Spanish. It was a little demeaning. Only one said yes, and the Bishop read the words from a book (he’s NOT a native Spanish speaker). Poor Vietnamese!

    7. Parish Shopping: This was an issue in the Diocese of Reno when I lived there a few years ago. The Religious Ed people at the diocese level were very unhappy that homeschoolers were bypassing parish classes and teaching their kids from the Baltimore Catechism (gasp!). Their ace-in-the-hole, however, was that you couldn’t receive the sacraments without participation in the protestant-mind-set, liberal-peace-and-justice, diocese approved classes, therefore the ideology of the liberal Catholic could be preserved. Fortunately, some priests take seriously their responsibility to offer sacraments generously to all who seek them, are allowed to seek them, and are properly educated–which often meant going to a different parish to receive First Holy Communion. I suspect this is why the Archbishop would like to see the practice of parish shopping end. It is hard to have complete control over what children learn if the parents can avoid your message.

    Plus, it becomes embarrassing for the mod squad at the diocese level when the one or two tradition-minded parishes flourish too much, and draw all of the wholesome families away from the nutty parishes in their neighborhoods.

  47. Nick P says:

    number 10

    really, are you kidding me, threats to parish unity?

    Here is a threat to parish unity, splittig up Masses by ethnic groups : this is the spanish Mass, this is the english Mass etc…

    Having the Mass draws the whole parish together to worship God.

    “Introduction of the older rites” can do nothing but strengthen a parish ( if explained throughtly before hand)

    God Bless

    Benedictus sanctos Nomine est

  48. jennifer eva says:

    #10. How is it I can see where he is coming from yet this is all wrong. In our little mission church here there are parallel communities. So this is where I can see he wouldn’t want parallel communities. Spanish (majority) and English. The essentials are OF but you won’t see either one mingling. So FWIW, this is misleading and misses the whole idea of the EF. (or why the church uses Latin)

    #14 Bad idea – I did try laity run spiritual direction in Dayton OH. The premise was that the laity is holy too. But it didn’t take long for me to be told what the spirit wanted of me. To make it short – uh no. My plate was full and it isn’t the multiplicity of my involvement in the parish but how ordered my life is to Christ. At the time I needed to be helped along with the basics and I was being directed to be more involved with parish life which would have distracted from my first vocation to family. I see better now – at the time I was just plain confused and torn.

    #12 – I think this is a great idea. There are small communites in LA diocese but you have to go first to the retreat offered and then communities are born of this. We move alot and if we have to do a retreat and start a new community just to leave in 2, 3, 4 years – well we feel out place often. You can say “we have no where to lay our head” is a way of life for us and I am starting to see the benefit. So I see that we can be of help to make this a reality here for those who may have the same or different motivation for not being able to or willing to begin with a weekend retreat in order to be part of community.

    Much of this is a plain need for catechesis of the laity – recatechesis. If you don’t know why Christ came enfleshed on earth for you then you can’t really get the rest. It sounds good but you have to know why God came. I mean know it viscerally, like when you get up and you are alive and you sense that you need that something more that no one but He can give you and it is Himself. If we don’t begin here, all else is just noise. We really have to know this and breathe this. if we can be any good to anyone.

    Jenne

  49. Matt says:

    couples who practice NFP for many years and “burn out” in their 40s and are tempted to sterilization. Since a disproportionate number of our few, precious priestly vocations come from families open to life, I really think sp. direction for such couples should be a priority for bishops

    Many more possible lives never came to be because of the use of NFP for “serious” reasons. Reasons such as “Need a bigger house”, “Not ready for more kids at the moment”, etc. NFP can be used for good, but most people use it as “Catholic Contraception” because the local “faith community” that teaches NFP usually leaves out any conscience formation on what constitutes a serious reason to justify the use of NFP.

    This ties into the Cardinal’s laundry list. This type of faith formation needs to be done PROPERLY the FIRST TIME. This requires a Priest or other thelogically formed person not a lay person with a graduation certificate to teach NFP. So many of my friends went thru NFP classes and use it solely for selfish reasons. They think they know better than God when it is the right time to have a child and how many to have. How many of our saints were one of the double didgit children?

    As to seminary formation and the seminarian’s comments; I wonder which seminary this priest to be went to? Why are the traditional seminaries overflowing to the point of not being able to accomidate all of their vocations? The SSPX has 491 priests to put to work for the Church. Yet they still don’t have even a conditional canonical authority? Isn’t this like having a large truck of food in a starving community, but because the truck says Ford on the front instead of Toyota the people are barred from eating the food? If the cardinal wants “instant priests” then push for the SSPX regularization. He will have more priests than he knows what to do with.

    Most of the solutions to the list of problems already exist. He just needs to make the decision to use them.

  50. Brian Crane says:

    I have heard this nonsense before about complaining that the EF creates parallel communities (point #10.) As a couple of posters have already pointed out, IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED with the OF celebrated in various vernacular languages. If Cardinal Mahony and others who share his concern were really interested in unity, or feared parallel communities, it seems they would also speak out about the division that masses in various languages creates. But, as far as I\’m aware, they don\’t.

    In my local parish, even religious education is separated by language. These kids go to the same school, attend the same classes, play on the same sports teams, all speak english etc. etc., yet they are separated when they go to ccd or church. That, to me, is a parallel community, and it doesn\’t seem right (to me anyway.)

  51. Michael Furlong says:

    Has Cardinal Mahoney expressed his “position” on the Notre Dame scandal?

  52. Antonius says:

    Certainly, liturgical reform or should I say liturgical correctness is the cornerstone of solving a lot of the issues we have in the Church today. However, there is one issue I think that needs to be addressed is that of young boys and men which I feel is largely neglected on whole by the Church. When I see Confirmation being conferred, most of the time I see females in much larger numbers, which may be just the demographics of the area, but I see a trend that women tend to stay closer to the Church than men. When I was on my college council and staffing retreats the leadership was mostly female because not enough men were interested in it. I think this is from youth, that as a society as a whole there is such a push for equality, which is great, however in it boys are being left behind. I used to work with children and I can say in my experience that most girls are getting more attention and doing better (though getting more aggressive), while the boys seem to be getting nastier and more nihilistic. I have been to churches where there are more boys and than girls for Mass, yet all the altarboys are girls. Because if we inspire more men, more will be called to the priesthood and we wouldn’t have this crisis.

    Also, can someone explained to me how having Mass in Spanish and English doesn’t create parallel communities, all the parishes I have been to, usually there is very little interaction between the two groups.

  53. Fr. David says:

    As a priest, I think Cardinal Mahony, as well as all bishops, should spend several months as a parish priest without an MC to take care of him. I think he would rethink some of his ideas.

  54. dominic1962 says:

    Lay people (unless they are monastics) have no business giving other lay people spiritual direction. Actually, something tells me that folks aren’t making the distinction between something like spiritual direction and pastoral counseling-which lay people could do.

    Spiritual direction is a very serious matter which the grace of state of an ordained priest is generally capable of handling. To take some fairly large degree of responsibility for people’s spiritual lives and salvation is not to be taken up lightly as if its just time to give happy little platitudes about how centering prayer or praying through art has helped me and might help you.

    This is what I fear it would devolve to-pseudo-spirituality that some well intentioned by ignorant laymen learned at some nutty “retreat center” that is engaged in all the “ecumenical” New Agey enneagram crap and then gets spread to other people as if it is authentic Catholic spirituality.

  55. Ricky Vines says:

    There was no mention of ecclesial movements that can renew and revitilize
    the faith.

    There was no mention of evangelization and catechesis for the faithful.

    How about continued formation for the laity not just the ministers.
    A lot of young adults lose their faith when they go to college.

    And should there be some consideration of liturgical dance in Latin? (maybe we can skip that)

  56. Tina says:

    I was responding to Michael’s post LCB. The first sentence comes from his post.

  57. RBrown says:

    Cardinal Mahony has a Master’s in Social Work.

  58. Maynardus says:

    With apologies to Fr. Finigan perhaps Cardinal Mahony should start his own blog, he could call it “The Hermeneutic of Horizontality”!

    I’m trying to keep my knuckles in a straitjacket, but this sounds just like the deliberations of the “parish pastoral council” I belonged to about 15 years ago. Nothing about salvation, everything about “community” and “service” and “welcome”. When Cdl. Mahony says “unity” I can only think of his annual religious ed. circus and all of the theological freaks that gather under his “big tent”. Anything goes, except for “less-collaborative” young priests and those unity-threatening Latin Masses!

  59. Dear RBrown,

    You reproduce (4)

    4. Offering “proper theological and pastoral formation” for lay ministers, at a time when the economy is prompting greater reliance on volunteers and deacons.

    Then you offer the following:

    *I would say the problem is more a matter of offering proper theological and pastoral formation to priests.*

    I tend to agree with you: the root of the problem is the oft appalling level of formation – sometimes real malformation or deformation – among the clergy. The clergy form the laity and the laity then inform the world; if the clergy are poorly formed, so will be the laity, and so forth.

    That said, there are harsh realities: there are fewer priests, and the laity are as a matter of fact doing things that priests and especially religious used to do. Lay formation is an especially serious problem these days, and it is a problem that, while in a certain sense derivative, is nevertheless distinct and distinctly pressing.

    Let me throw this reflection out there:

    The word, “clergy” is closely related to the word, “clerk”, and for a reason: for many centuries in Christian countries, a great number of civil offices and functions could be filled only by people in some kind of Orders – hence the “clerical state”. Might the apparently ever-increasing burden on priests of non-pastoral, administrative tasks and responsibilities be relieved to a great extent by permanent deacons? Might a number of viri probati – professional men – lawyers, business managers, accountants – handle many of the tasks related to the day-to-day running of parish and diocesan concerns? Admittedly, the formation of men toward the permanent diaconate would have to be revisited, but it seems to me that the need of such a revision is manifest in any case.

    Best,
    C.

  60. TJM says:

    RBrown, is that his problem? Tom

  61. Michael says:

    Dr. ERIC, Re: diaconate

    “In light of the priest shortage, deacons are increasingly being formed to administer priestless parishes. Does that risk ‘undermining the integrity of the diaconate as a ministry distinct from the ministerial priesthood’?” – It does, IMHO, because it makes the priest less and less necessary, instead more and more; thus encourages this sad state of affairs to progress in wrong direction. The shortage problem cannot be solved by a diaconate.

    Deacons are not necessary to administer priestless parishes. Anyone can do it. In theory – as it stands now, having in mind the undeveloped theology of diaconate – a deacon can perform all sacramental functions – everything else, in fact, except absolution, consecration, essential elements of ordination and anointing of the sick; and all that deacon can in theory do, can be done by any layman too, and claimed even by eccentric women.

    The evident role of the latter is to “pray, pay and obey” as one commenter rightly observes. A theology is not a DIY job for “lay ministry”: they can only help more people to be misguided, whether non-Catholics or Catholics.

    Are we going to put up with one priest per diocese, consecrating a one cbm carton of hosts to be distributed by women, who would do it by “celebrating” one of those concocted “eucharistic services”?

    The Authorities will have to introduce drastic changes in the life of the Church, starting from themselves, unless they want to perpetuate the present process of disintegration. Surely, one of the reasons of the shortage of priests is that the present theology and liturgy has led to the loss of self-esteem and priestly identity.

    To supplement your information, the function of a deacon in the early Church, whether the main or one among others I do not know, seem to have been in Liturgy. It is still retained in the separate Eastern Churches, the Byzantine (Greek, Russian etc) in particular. The Byzantine Liturgy, while possible, and frequent in many areas, without deacon because of the shortage, is seriously truncated without him: he is a link between the priest, who offers the prayers in a low voice, and the congregation. But he is not there to reduce the priest’s role, but – on the contrary – the priest, if there is no deacon, has to take the latter’s liturgical role which is not all that good solution, because the Liturgy is designed for celebration with deacon.

    On the other hand, in our Western Liturgy (Mass) deacon has nothing to do, except in the High Mass when his role is usually taken by another priest who is referred to as “deacon”.

    Your observation about Extraneous Eucharistic Ministers have usurped many of the functions of the Deacon at Mass, is correct. I know of a PP who has two deacons and when they are in his judgement enough, he doesn’t use the EEM.

  62. Continuing the discussion on point 4 (and 3 it looks like), I think that the proper theological training of laypeople is essential as long as they are being put into important positions which need a theological position. The proper theological education of priests is also important, but I don\’t think we need think one is exclusive of the other.

    But what is interesting is the lack of theological training of deacons. Most of whom have been educated in awful part-time programmes (although many deacons rise above their education). This leads to a situation where a parish will have priests with a full theological education, several lay staff with Masters in Theology, and deacons with, well, \”certificates\”.

    I think this is one of the reasons deacons are treated they way they are – you know, being clerics who are often not allowed to anything that clerics are supposed to (wearing clerical garb is the one that comes to mind right away).

    Perhaps we need to re-think part-time deacons altogether. Would it not be better to have deacons with degrees in Business, Accounting, Law, Social Work, etc. Couldn\’t we have a full-time diaconal seminary (attached to a Catholic University) where deacons could earn their terminal degrees in one of the above such subjects, as well as a theology degree?

    There are examples of mainline protestant seminaries which cater to older, married students (even with children) which could be used as models of organization.

    Of course, these deacons would have to be paid a just wage….

  63. stigmatized says:

    these are insensitive things only a monster would say. but he is the head of americhurch. if you consider yourself a member of it. [This person's IP was just locked out. Knuckleheaded comments are not welcome. Next?]

  64. 1. I definitely see this in my circles of priest friends within the Archdiocese. There’s definitely hope in some of the newer priests, even one that wants to learn the TLM and offer it one day God willing.

    2. I don’t see this as much of a problem, call during regular hours. But that’s my humble opinion of course.

    3. I know of many deacons, and they’re not allowed to really be deacons liturgically. The mobsters of Holy Communion take that part. Although I really don’t think there’s a “shortage” but with the Liturgical madness that goes on throughout most of the archdiocese, who’d want to be a priest quite frankly in this diocese?

    4. I agree Fr. Z, Baltimore Catechism would be a great start.

    5. I want my priests less flexible, hold to the teachings of the Church, rigidity isn’t a bad thing. If you don’t know who you are as a priest, how can you expect to pass that on and inspire vocations? I’m glad for that statement.

    6. Multiculturalism, is overplayed, the joy of Latin, true multiculturalism.

    7. Say black, do red. I also think that Biblical exegesis is a bit over played and we should also be learning Church doctrine in sermons ;)

    8. Real ecumenism doesn’t involve settling on the LCD as Pope Benedict is doing, the search for Truth.

    9. But doesn’t that same catechism say that the Immigrants must follow the laws of the land, one of them to come legally of course ;)? I don’t think it’s a matter of “weakening” of a social agenda, it’s an authentic understanding of social concern. As I say if you break a law you should be punished, how that punishment is to be exercised is up for debate.

    10. There’s less unity at the NO parish than there is at my parish. The problem with the vernacular has been that they don’t really associate with one another other than at a parish picnic. Of course the Church has no need to re-invent the wheel, just use the wheel of Latin ;)

    11. The CCC is pretty compelling to me ;)

    12. As long as the retreats have substance, i’m all for it.

    13, How about more use of the Sacrament of Penance?

    14. nooooooo!

    15. I’ll baptize my kids (God willing if I have any) at a parish of my choosing, not the Roman Protestant parish down the street.

    16. Not a huge fan of this…

    17. The only idea I can fully get on board with, what good is a gift if you don’t share it? There should be more interaction with parishes. Networking is a good thing.

  65. Michael J says:

    Random Friar,
    many others have statedsomething similar to your suggestion that “… pastors need to rely on the expertise of the laity in their fields more and more”.

    The only problem is that I have no idea what this means. What is it that Priests are doing today that can more effectively be accomplished by experienced laity?

  66. chironomo says:

    Matt Says;

    Most of the solutions to the list of problems already exist. He just needs to make the decision to use them.”

    If I thought that Cardinal Mahony were serious about finding the truth behind these issues and resolving them, I would leave my full-time job and dedicate myself tirelessly to assisting him in the effort. However, statements such as…

    Some really harsh generational divides” among priests, “with the younger generation often quite openly challenging the orthodoxy of older priests.”

    …makes it clear that he sees the problem as being with the “younger generation” rather than with the “older priests”. This betrays adherence to an agenda rather than a search for truth.

    I know a number of priests in their late 80′s and early 90′s, ordained in the 1940′s -50′s… I have yet to hear of any “younger generation” priests or otherwise questioning their orthodoxy. Or does Cardinal Mahony mean something different by “older priests”? Perhaps those priests that are, say, 50-70 years old? I have heard of such things if that is what he means…

  67. Girgadis says:

    RE: # 12 – more parish retreats to give people an inexpensive and parish-related
    quiet time.

    Here’s a novel idea – how about we do something to reestablish quiet before and
    during Mass? The same people who disrupt the quiet before and during Mass will
    also disrupt it during a parish retreat.

    RE: #13 – a poorly realized renewal of reconciliation ministry.

    The prior Lent, our cardinal, Justin Rigali, asked that every parish hold confessions
    on Wednesday evenings between 7 and 8:30 to encourage more people to take advantage
    of this sacrament. I stopped by our church on the third Wednesday in Lent to find
    the confessional empty. Father chose to stay in the rectory until someone
    came in wanting confession, at which time he would offer them the sacrament face-to-face
    at the altar. Can you imagine if someone who had been away from the sacrament for a
    long time decided to come in that night and discovered he’d have to confess 20 years
    worth of sin face to face?? When priests make confession a priorty and treat it as
    such then there is a reasonable chance the flock will follow. I wonder what the
    cardinal would have thought if he stopped by my church that evening to see how things
    were going.

    RE: #17 – greater interaction between the parishes within a diocese.

    Not only could this help to coordinate services for the poor, but it could also
    help bolster the spiritual life of each parish. For instance, every parish accessible
    to my house holds their one evening of weeknight devotions on Monday, then all of
    the churches are silent for the rest of the week (with the exception of morning Mass)
    There would be greater participation if these events were spaced out a bit.

  68. Maynardus says:

    “Cardinal Mahony has a Master’s in Social Work.”

    That explains a lot! Myself, I always thought he sounded kinda like a community organizer…

    Sadly we seem to have far too many priests who suffer from an identity crisis: when they look in the mirror they see a celibate social worker! Maybe Cardinal Mahony will wake up one morning and realize that Job #1 for the Archdiocese of L.A. ought to be implementing Pope Benedict’s vision for restoring our Catholic identity!

  69. chironomo says:

    Michael J…

    Perhaps things such as the financial management of the parish…decisions about the physical plant (roofing, air conditioning, upkeep and maintenance etc..) and other day-to-day pastoral decisions not related to the liturgical or sacramental life of the parish (personnel, payroll, insurance matters, school related management issues..). There could be many such tasks handled by laity.

    That said, I’m not sure how good an idea that would be… a parish I formerly served at was a disaster because of an intrusive and power-hungry finance director who was appointed to take just such a role at the parish. There are also some issues of law that would have to be considered.

  70. TJM says:

    Maynardus, to expand on that point about his masters in social work. That may be coloring his worldview and view of the Faith more than we know. Social
    work is directed to the “here and now” now necessarily about the “hereafter.” Although the here and now is important, the Church’s focus and mission
    should be on preparing us for the hereafter. We have social workers. A cardinal need not usurp a role that the laity is more than capable of
    handling. Tom

  71. Maureen says:

    Re: “What are priests doing today that could be done by more experienced laity?”

    If the priest is doing bookkeeping for the parish and he’s not a bookkeeper, that’s a bit silly (not to mention putting temptation in the way of the poor guy). If the priest is trying to figure out law or insurance for the parish,, that’s a bit silly. Etc. The pastor is supposed to rule or direct the parish, but he doesn’t have to mop the floors or type the bulletin unless there’s a really good reason for him to do so.

    OTOH, if the Parish Council is totally running the parish and the pastor is being regarded as just the sacramental hired help, that’s also pretty silly (and wrong). There are places where there’s not a priest there all the time, and that would mean a lot of power given to the Parish Council. But even then, you could have a council with a bad attitude or a council that’s regarding itself as a temporary placeholder until and if a pastor comes.

  72. “9. A “weakening” of social concern among parishioners”

    This has been caused by priests who reduce Catholicism to only social justice and in to many cases a disordered understanding of it which does not match Catholic teaching, Catholics are sick of secular humanism been passed of as Catholicism and priests who spend more time been “political activists” than priests.

    “11. How to articulate the church’s positions on sexuality “in a plausible and compelling way.”

    I find the word plausible in this context worrying, it has been used far to many times to mean to actually change the teaching to more closely match what modern society says. The biggest most important thing to be more convincing would be for Catholics to all be convinced themselves and all speak with one voice on this matter.

    12. “More parish retreats, to give people an inexpensive and parish-related quiet time.”

    Also more retreats is only a good idea if they are not some kind of new age nonsense which many such retreats have been in the past

    14. Training laity to provide spiritual direction,

    I agree with you Father this is a bad idea as we have seen by the many problems in various RCIA classes ran by laity. Your normal member of the laity is never going to be able to match a priest and second rate spiritual direction can do more harm than good.

    15. “The nagging problem of too many people getting children baptized, and getting married, outside their own parish.”

    That’s quite a damning indictment against their home parishes and someone should be asking why they feel the need to go to the extra trouble involved, what are they not getting at their home parish and could it possibly be made available.

    17. Greater interaction among all the parishes in a diocese,

    This will come naturally if you can get them to all have the same Unity of Faith and restore the Catholic identity by encouraging the things that set us apart as Catholics instead of trying to make us sacrifice our differentiators in a pathetic effort to fit in with the in crowd.

    In short once Catholics get some SELF RESPECT and are able to TRUST that the other person describing themselves as Catholic really has the FAITH then BONDS will naturally be strengthened as they always are among people who are of one mind.

  73. Mark says:

    Protestant denominations are having a vocation crisis too. The problem is seeing the clergy as a full-time job and expecting to be paid. If we allowed men with weekday jobs (and, yes, possibly families) to be ordained for mainly just Sunday masses…there would be no problem. There are 30,000 permanent deacons in the US! While this is much higher than Europe, surely we can assume that most of those would have or would be priests if the time commitment were the same. Ah, but that threatens the full-time bureaucrats, doesnt it? Oh well…they’re digging their own grave with their insistence on institutional self-preservation.

  74. a catechist says:

    I’m not surprised many comments here are dubious of or hostile to lay people giving sp. direction. From what I’ve seen, it’s the more committed/more orthodox folks who want sp. direction, DON’T want a bunch of enneagram crapola, and would really prefer clergy–who are not available. But really folks, how then is it provided where you live? It’s a serious need for some folks at some points in their lives, and in many places (like where I live) it’s simply not available from priests or trustworthy religious. I sometimes suspect the explosive growth in Third Order membership isn’t largely because it’s one of the only ways to come in contact with a strong tradition & get at least a little sp. direction. If you’ve seen a better solution where you live, it’s charity to share the example….It’s not helpful to say here that the Cardinal’s idea #14 is a dangerous one without suggesting how the problem could be better solved.

  75. A Random Friar says:

    Michael J:

    A couple of examples, hopefully to clear things up: first and foremost, financial advice. The finance council is mandated by Canon Law, and should be filled with good, sound financial heads. Too many of us priests/religious were not businessmen before we entered, and certainly can’t run what is, putting aside the spiritual mission, a multi-million dollar corporation. If Father Pastor gets it into his mind that the church needs a new parish center, fine, but get some people who know how to raise money, how to manage it, etc. I know my way around a budget, but couldn’t tell you much else.

    Same thing with the physical plant. Pipes breaking down? Get some contractors and plumbers who know what they’re doing, how much things should cost, etc. Nothing delights a crooked contractor more than a pastor with little clue and a blank check. Let’s not forget legal advice, which is priceless nowadays in this hyper-litigious society. Even spiritual programs and offerings. What do the people REALLY want, spiritually? Let’s get the pulse of the parish. Let’s see how we can go about implementing things we may not have thought of, but which are still good and uplifting.

    Those are my thoughts, anyway. Hope that helps make me a little clearer!

  76. Fidelius says:

    8. “A slowing down of ecumenical efforts at the local level, and at all levels.”

    I don’t even know what that means, really. Not enough meetings per month? Surely the Cardinal knows that time is limited, and there are plenty of other things that rightly demand attention — and priority.

  77. RBrown says:

    Chris Altieri,

    1. The Angelicum has a catechetical institute. Those who study there (usually laici and sisters) receive a more thorough theological education that men who study at US diocesan seminaries.

    And I am not exaggerating.

    2. It’s no accident that the there is such a shortage of priests. The formula is simple: Ubi Petrus ibi Ecclesia. Ubi Ecclesia ibi vocationes. For the importance of Latin in Ubi Petrus, see Veterum Sapientia.

    The MO of Rome for almost 30 years was crisis management. Lots of effort directed at putting out grass fires but not much at reform.

    The various diocesan strategies and tactics to mitigate the priest shortage reminds me of someone trying to hit a golf ball with his eyes closed. He takes off his windbreaker. He changes from a 5 iron to a 3 wood. He adjusts his grip. He puts his finger in the air to test the wind. He widens his stance and moves the ball back. He does everything except open his eyes.

  78. Michael says:

    “I think that the proper theological training of laypeople is essential as long as they are being put into important positions which need a theological position.”

    There are problems with the idea of theological training. What does it mean “proper” training when the training of priests is inadequate in most seminaries? But supposing, for the sake of argument, a place where the training is doctrinally sound and takes three years. Who will pay for it? Would the qualified layman be expected to work on voluntary basis or would he expect to be paid for the work. Priests get basics for survival and promise obedience to bishop at ordination: they are fully dependent on him. What about a layman who makes no promises and holds views contrary to teaching of the Church, propagates them in a parish, and is – paid for his lies. And I if he lives openly a morally scandalous life? And how to get rid of him without legal action? And what about if the court decides in his favour? Simply, forget about laity in a doctrinally responsible position, unless you are looking for trouble.

  79. Mark says:

    I like the golf analogy! It’s so true. They’re willing to try anything to fix the problems in the Church…except, you know, rocking the boat or threatening the status quo at all. “We’re open to all suggestions, even radical solutions! (As long as they’re not radical…)”

  80. Mark says:

    Also, I think Fr Z is right that “proper theological training” could really be no more than knowing the basics of the Baltimore Catechism.

    The big lie that academic theologians have been propagating for some time now (and I’m talking about going back to the Renaissance) is that theology is something that takes a 3-year program or whatever to learn. That it is an academic discipline strictly so called.

    Not really. The History of Theology may be, but the Truth itself is quite simple, and can be learned in a few weeks, honestly. It really doesnt take much. You dont need to know the whole history of the development of doctrine or the whole context of the dialogue of ideas that let to the doctrine. You just need to know the doctrine. Anything beyond that is more of an Emperor’s New Clothes sort of thing and eventually leads to the heresy among theologians we see today in their endless race to “generate content”. We dont need people writing Theses or dissertations. We need people who know the dogmas of the faith (as found here: http://jloughnan.tripod.com/dogma.htm) and that’s enough.

    On that thread, wanna know another big part of the vocations crisis? Requiring that priests all be college-boys when most Catholics arent. There is a real class-ism that gets institutionalized through the Seminary system, as the kind of men who become priests is now limited, by and large, to a very small spectrum of the total personality range. The White-Bread Vanilla range, we could call it.

    I mean, requiring them to be of above average intelligence and celibate, but also not homosexual or heretical…limits your pool to a certain self-selected group of personality-types which then scares off others or makes it seem unappealing to them. I mean…a jock isnt going to want to join the club if its made up of all nerds. Similar situation in the church today. There are some outliers, of course, but you definitely get a certain distribution of personality types in the priesthood that is very different, and every limited, compared to even that of faithful Catholic men in the pews.

    Go back to the medieval model of apprenticing men and not putting so much emphasis on Institutionalizing them in big schools. Institutionalization isnt healthy.

  81. dcs says:

    If we allowed men with weekday jobs (and, yes, possibly families) to be ordained for mainly just Sunday masses…there would be no problem.

    There would be plenty of problems. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that I think it would be a disaster.

  82. “If we allowed men with weekday jobs (and, yes, possibly families) to be ordained for mainly just Sunday masses…there would be no problem.”

    This would cause damage to the Church that would take centuries to recover from.

    “Ah, but that threatens the full-time bureaucrats, doesn’t it? Oh well…they’re digging their own grave with their insistence on institutional self-preservation.”

    Anticlericallism has always destroyed the Church anywhere it has managed to take hold. You don’t have solutions, you are part of the problem as far as I am concerned and clearly have no idea what Priests have to go through, shame on you for been such an ingrate.

  83. Sal says:

    Catechist,

    I agree that it’s not particularly helpful to criticize #14 [training laity to provide spiritual direcction] without suggesting an alternative. And third-order membership is a good alternative.

    But with respect to leaving spiritual direction to the laity, the primary reason for opposing it is that not only do they not have sufficient training and education, they also do not have accountability in the same way that priests or members of religious orders do. And depending on the religious order, you may or may not be satisfied with the results.

    But, in general, the laity are called to be formed, not to form. That is the province of the clergy. It’s a pastoral responsibility. And some of the programs I’ve read about seem to have been cobbled together without a clear sense of Church teaching (dogma or spirituality) and some appear to be syncretistic. And they’ve been unleashed on parishes. And it results in confusion or divisiveness.

    You know, the great “spiritual directors” of antiquity were the monks and their supporters (Athanasius, Augustine, Gregory the Great). And there probably weren’t enough of them to go around – just like today. But I don’t think that’s enough of a reason to hand over yet another clerical responsibility to the laity, who in many cases are not up to the job.

    People would be better off reading one of the great spiritual classics: Augustine, John of the Cross, reflections of the early monks, etc.

    And for a spiritual problem or counseling, please go to a priest, preferably your confessor.

  84. David says:

    8. “A slowing down of ecumenical efforts at the local level, and at all levels.”

    I would submit that, similar to the adage “all politics is local,” true ecumenism occurs at the local/personal level. It occurs where I interact with my neighbors, co-workers and those whose paths I cross during the day. We know that the whole law and the prophets depend on (1) loving the Lord, our God, with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind; and (2) loving our neighbor as our self. This is a “safe harbor” for ecumenical efforts if you will. A place at which, and terms upon which, we can interact with non-Catholics without compromise.
    Ecumenical efforts at higher levels by their nature seem to require debate, negotiation and compromise of realities that, by their nature, are ours to neither negotiate nor compromise.

  85. Michelle Marie Romani says:

    Observation #10 is “bery interresting” as the old Laugh-In German character used to say, because this is coming from a prelate who advocates “liturgical dance” and other strange aberrations to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, especially during those infamous Religious Ed Congresses that he hosts.

    What is wrong with bringing the Sacred back into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? He seems to forget that the Mass is not about us; it is about God. It is about being in the divine presence of the majesty of God. We are there to worship the Lord, not have a get-together.

  86. jade d. says:

    fr Zhulsdorf,

    You have posted that this archbishop has said that the “re-introduction of the Latin Mass and more ‘sacred’ liturgies” has the effect of creating “parallel communities”. These remarks of the cardinal basically ignore the Pope’s wish to have the old rite available to those who want it and, in effect, are declaring it to be harmful to the unity of the church. This can be considered an heterodox statement insomuch as it goes against the teachings stated in summorum pontificum. Can you be surprised that certain people reading it who have been denied the opportunity to attend the old rite of mass (not everyone has you for a pastor) would be very upset by the unfairness of these statements? But if someone expresses their shock at these statements in an honest way you then ban them from posting. Don’t you think this makes your site appear to be nothing more than a place for ‘traditionalists’ to vent and to be given the impression that someone cares about them, when in fact they have no recourse and this proves it. By your posting this information, and then banning those who are upset by it, you are setting them up for humiliation…first you flaunt the fact that there is nothing they can do to obtain their rite because the american bishops are against it and then you publicly chastise them for being ‘knuckleheaded’. I feel that you are not really on their side and that your site is a ruse.

  87. Mark says:

    “There would be plenty of problems. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that I think it would be a disaster.”

    I just doubt it would be a problem if all the permanent deacons (who stand up at the altar at Mass on Sundays holding the chalice anyway) suddenly were allowed to say the Mass instead of merely assisting. If everything else stayed the same regarding their positions, it’s honestly a rather minor change from a practical standpoint, except priests wouldnt have to quadrinate!

    I mean, really, what do you see as the huge difference between a parish having a Eucharistic Service led by their permanent deacon every other week because there arent enough priests…and simply elevating that permanent deacon to the actual priesthood so that the Sunday service can be a real Mass instead of a Eucharistic Service? If his position with the parish otherwise remains the same. Seems to me a minor difference.

  88. Mark says:

    “Anticlericallism has always destroyed the Church anywhere it has managed to take hold. You don’t have solutions, you are part of the problem as far as I am concerned and clearly have no idea what Priests have to go through, shame on you for been such an ingrate.”

    Ah! But doesnt this just demonstrate how you’ve been bamboozled by the bureaucrat priesthood-as-occupation crowd?

    Because, consider, how is what I’m saying anti-clerical?? In my proposal, all those men WOULD BE CLERICS. If they were ordained priests, obviously they would be clerics! I hardly see that as anti-clerical.

    And yet, you are subconsciously suggestion that such men would somehow still be “lay” just because they wouldnt get paid for their priesthood and might have families! If they’re priests, rest assured, they’d be clerics. Duh.

    Anti-clericalism is bad, but I’d say Clericalism itself is much worse.

    And I do have some idea what priests “have to go through” and its much less than they make it out to be. There are many good priests who take on lots of extra work and ministry voluntarily and totally spend themselves…but the minimum is a very cushy life indeed. Many get away with saying a Mass every day, maybe two on Sunday, saying a wedding or funeral sometime during the week, visiting the hospital a couple times (this idea that priests get calls all the time for emergencies isnt true, however, people simply arent dying in the middle of the night all that often, maybe a couple times a month in a really big parish). If they’re good, they’ll have confessions once a week and say their (extremely reduced compared to the traditional Breviary) LOTH and spiritual direct some people, but I know of lots of priests who dont. Associate pastors who really get away with just saying Mass every day and maybe bringing communion to a few homebound people a couple times a week. Their job is essentially to read texts out-loud and wave their hands over things. Never forget that.

    Love the priesthood, but be VERY suspicious of priests.

    And that’s not an unCatholic attitude. If my studies of history are correct, it is the consummately Catholic attitude to have towards priests.

  89. Big Jim says:

    #12 – More Quite Time? Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament would accomplish that and be good for the soul.

  90. Henry Edwards says:

    I wonder whether Cardinal Mahony really did not include faithful priestly formation in his list of “challenges”. For instance, why not the goal that every priest have at least a Baltimore catechism knowledge of the faith before being ordained?

  91. fh in Houston says:

    The Diaconate is a separate ministry. St. Paul spoke rightly about celibacy. A Priest tends to his flock. A Deacon tends to his family and whatever the Bishop assigns him to. Deacon formation may be lacking in other Diocese, but not in Galveston-Houston. It takes more than 4 years to become a Deacon here. They take the equivalency of a Masters in Theology and can be degree-conferred if they choose. They are to serve.

  92. dcs says:

    I just doubt it would be a problem if all the permanent deacons (who stand up at the altar at Mass on Sundays holding the chalice anyway) suddenly were allowed to say the Mass instead of merely assisting. If everything else stayed the same regarding their positions, it’s honestly a rather minor change from a practical standpoint, except priests wouldnt have to quadrinate!

    That’s assuming that there are no problems with the permanent diaconate as it is currently practiced, and assuming that all or even just most men ordained to the diaconate are suitable candidates for ordination to the priesthood.

  93. Mark says:

    I dont see what would make someone unsuitable to actually say the Mass who is otherwise suitable to stand there at the altar and ALMOST say the Mass. If he’s good enough to hold the chalice and proclaim the Gospel…is he really going to be “unsuited” to say the rest, assuming that’s all he’d be expected to do?

  94. Mark says:

    The diaconate IS indeed a different ministry. But, on a practical level, I just know that many of those same men who became permanent deacons would have gone on to become priests if it were allowed and the duties were practically the same (changing merely from assisting at a Sunday Mass once a week and bringing communion to the home-bound, to actually saying a Sunday Mass once a week and maybe doing Extreme Unction and Confessions in real emergencies). The priesthood contains the ministries of the diaconate, remember. And not all priests need be Pastors, obviously.

  95. As per no. 14, the biggest problem with this idea is that there is no way at this point we can trust the orthodoxy of the laity taking on such a ministry. Most of the orthodox laity I know are much more comfortable (and perhaps rightly so) leaving spiritual direction to a priest. Given sufficient numbers of priests this is how it should be. Thus, and I realize this is a generalization, many of the laity interested in spiritual direction may already be, um, “orthodox deficient.” They are much more likely to be the kind that don’t want to recognize the ontological difference between priest and laity, and they are likely to be the kind that respect the teachings of the Church. As such, they would likely be the worst people to invite as spiritual directors. Of course, not all laity interested in spiritual direction fit this generalization, just as, sadly, far too many priests would fit that description. But overall I think lay spiritual directors is just a bad idea. Perhaps if we had a greater orthodoxy among religious sisters then they might be the exception as lay persons to whom we might turn for spiritual direction, but I think it will be some time before that consistency in orthodoxy returns.

    But I think the Cardinal missed what should be the most obvious challenge facing the Church today, which is quite simply atrocious catechesis. Catholics today simply do not understand the faith at all, not even a little bit. This needs to be addressed before anything else. Form the faith properly, and I can almost guarantee that everything else falls into place. I truly believe this is the answer to the crisis in vocations, to the problems with our liturgies, to the crisis in Mass attendance (which to me is directly related to the crisis in vocations), to the increasing heresy and heterodoxy among Catholics. Catholics need to know what it means to be Catholic, and the Church has simply failed in this most basic responsibility, that of catechesis.

  96. At least Cardinal Mahony’s archdiocese has not been one of those to use the epidemic to impose Communion in the hand on his flock http://kneelingcatholic.blogspot.com

    Our bishop in Corpus Christi has done this. (along with Mexican and New Zealand and some other American bishops) This is an unprecedented action!
    http://kneelingcatholic.blogspot.com

  97. Sorry, correction to my previous comment. I wrote: and they are likely to be the kind that respect the teachings of the Church. That should have been in the negative. They are not likely to be the kind…

  98. Perhaps things such as the financial management of the parish…decisions about the physical plant (roofing, air conditioning, upkeep and maintenance etc..) and other day-to-day pastoral decisions not related to the liturgical or sacramental life of the parish (personnel, payroll, insurance matters, school related management issues..). There could be many such tasks handled by laity.

    Exactly. If we as laity really want to support our priests, then instead of horning in on their turf, we should be taking these sorts of tasks off his hands, and free up his time for priestly duties, prayer and study. Of course, he still bears the ultimate responsibility for these things; but when a priest is swamped by petty administrative stuff, to the detriment of his priestly office, then it seems to me the devil is at work.

    The Diaconate is a separate ministry. St. Paul spoke rightly about celibacy. A Priest tends to his flock. A Deacon tends to his family and whatever the Bishop assigns him to. Deacon formation may be lacking in other Diocese, but not in Galveston-Houston. It takes more than 4 years to become a Deacon here. They take the equivalency of a Masters in Theology and can be degree-conferred if they choose. They are to serve.

    Question: are permanent deacons really dispensed from celibacy?

  99. LCB says:

    A permanent deacon may continue proper relations with his wife.

    He may not remarry after her passing.

  100. “Ah! But doesnt this just demonstrate how you’ve been bamboozled by the bureaucrat priesthood-as-occupation crowd?

    Because, consider, how is what I’m saying anti-clerical?? In my proposal, all those men WOULD BE CLERICS. If they were ordained priests, obviously they would be clerics! I hardly see that as anti-clerical.

    And yet, you are subconsciously suggestion that such men would somehow still be “lay” just because they wouldnt get paid for their priesthood and might have families! If they’re priests, rest assured, they’d be clerics. Duh.”

    No Mark I have not subconsciously suggested that at all, rather than assuming such things a wiser man would have asked me to clarify what I was saying rather than deluding himself into thinking he had superpowers that allowed him to read my subconscious thoughts through the internet.

    By attacking the entire priesthood as “full time bureaucrats” you are following in a long line of anticlericals and your further suggestion that priest really don’t do all that much and shouldn’t be paid is further proof of this if any was needed, you have insinuated that our priests are useless parasites which is a grave injustice to all these men who have sacrificed themselves to make the salvation of our souls possible.

    Your plan is also anticlerical in the effect that it will have in that it would serve to further the destruction of the priestly identity which has already been disastrously undermined by the excessive promotion of the idea of the common priesthood of the laity and the use of laity in clerical functions such as we see with EMHC. Priests need to have their priestly identity rebuilt not utterly obliterated.

    “Anti-clericalism is bad, but I’d say Clericalism itself is much worse.”

    Possibly the most absurd statement I think I have ever heard in my life.

    “And I do have some idea what priests “have to go through” and its much less than they make it out to be. There are many good priests who take on lots of extra work and ministry voluntarily and totally spend themselves…but the minimum is a very cushy life indeed. Many get away with saying a Mass every day, maybe two on Sunday, saying a wedding or funeral sometime during the week, visiting the hospital a couple times (this idea that priests get calls all the time for emergencies isnt true, however, people simply arent dying in the middle of the night all that often, maybe a couple times a month in a really big parish). If they’re good, they’ll have confessions once a week and say their (extremely reduced compared to the traditional Breviary) LOTH and spiritual direct some people, but I know of lots of priests who dont. Associate pastors who really get away with just saying Mass every day and maybe bringing communion to a few homebound people a couple times a week. Their job is essentially to read texts out-loud and wave their hands over things. Never forget that.”

    You are a disgusting blasphemer to I see if not a outright heretic.

    Your argument is utterly illogical, this does not in anyway support your suggestion that we should lower the standards set for the priesthood. Because some priest are not reaching a very high standard we could encourage them to be better priests by lowering our expectations of them? By perhaps only requiring them to work a few hours on a weekend and allow them to have the great distraction of been married and caring for their own family at the same time as the parish and at the same time as working a full time job during the week?

    What foolishness! The answer is to encourage them to live up to their priesthood not reduce the standard and throw extra stumbling blocks and sources of temptation in their way to distract them and dissipate their energies in occupations other than that required by the parish and the souls under their care. Your ideas have already been tried, go and take a look at the Anglican ecclesiastical community and see how it is working out for them.

    “Love the priesthood, but be VERY suspicious of priests.”

    And that’s not an unCatholic attitude. If my studies of history are correct, it is the consummately Catholic attitude to have towards priests.”

    You have clearly been reading the wrong kind of books then, it is not a catholic attitude to be very suspicious of anyone without a just cause let alone every priest, I suggest you get back to your studies.

  101. swck says:

    3. I’m not sure I agree with the wording, but I can appreciate the concern behind it. Where I see a major risk is that the laity will be further confused in their understanding of the different orders of clergy. Even now, in my parish, I’ve heard people talk about how there were two priests saying Mass this past Sunday. You know, one read the gospel and preached and kind of helped out the other one up at the altar and gave out communion, but he wore that scarf-y thing sideways.

    I also think when Deacon Smith is the “administrator,” handling the day-to-day operations and probably the baptisms and weddings, and Sister Sue takes care of visiting the sick and homebound, with Fr. Jones only appearing on the scene when Mass, Confessions, or Annointing are needed, it will lead to an identity crisis for the priest, who instead of being a shepherd of the flock who knows each of his sheep by name, ends up acting more like an independent contractor who gets called on to help out when the regular staff needs some extra help.

  102. Girgadis says:

    #12 – More Quite Time? Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament would accomplish that and be good for the soul.

    Comment by Big Jim

    I very much agree, but here again you find an alarming level of resistance to this
    on the part of some parish priests. The argument I got from my former pastor was
    that you can’t “introduce” anything new in the parish until you can get participation
    in existing devotions to increase. In every religious community where daily Adoration
    has been the norm there has been an increase in vocations. In every parish where
    perpetual Adoration has been introduced there has been a decrease in crime and an
    increase in attendance and support for the parish. This is an area where I believe
    the laity can assist the clergy – by coordinating schedules for Adorers and getting
    out the word. I haven’t given up but I’m really at a loss to explain why this
    beautiful and powerful devotion isn’t given priority along with encouraging attendance
    at daily Mass.

  103. mfg says:

    I will not comment on this blog other than to say that I would rather concentrate on the affirmative. That being said, I am eternally grateful to The Holy Spirit for my memories of the stewardship and leadership of Cards Manning, McIntyre and Ab Cantwell under whom I was privileged to be raised and educated, and in turn raise and educate my 6 children. There, no red.
    I will,however, comment on Fr. Z’s notation on #4. I enjoy teaching 5 of my youngest grandchildren the old Baltimore Catechism (TAN Books, Rockford, Il, Imprimatur +James Gibbons, Ab of Baltimore 1885) All 5 children love it, look forward to it and excel in it. They vie with each other in their enthusiasm to memorize first and perfectly and are anxious to demonstrate their proficiency to their parents. Curiously, their age and grade level do not seem to make any difference in their ability to ace this info, both orally and written, within a week’s time, as true for the first grader as for the sixth grader. Note: I am not adverse to supplementing their piggy banks for satisfaction. Also, continual review over years is essential.

    Recently my son’s pastor was a dinner guest at two of the childrens’ home. In the course of the evening they recited for him the 20 mysteries of the rosary (including the word, Gethsemane–I like to be comprehensive); the 10 commandments, the 6 precepts,the corporal works, the prayer to St. Michael, and the old Confiteor with breast beating, among other jewels. The priest declared how happy he was that the children were being so well instructed in the faith at St. John’s School. No, they responded, we didn’t learn this at school. Our grandmother taught us. “…from the mouths of babes…” My grandchildren know why God made them.

  104. Mark says:

    “By attacking the entire priesthood as ‘full time bureaucrats’ you are following in a long line of anticlericals and your further suggestion that priest really don’t do all that much and shouldn’t be paid is further proof of this if any was needed, you have insinuated that our priests are useless parasites which is a grave injustice to all these men who have sacrificed themselves to make the salvation of our souls possible.”

    No. My accusation is a little more restricted. Diocesan priests currently, in the Latin Rite, ARE full time bureaucrats. That’s simply a fact, and priests I’ve talked to dont even deny it, they just dont see it as necessarily a bad thing. And neither do I…”necessarily”.

    But the priesthood IS their career, not just their vocation, it is the source of their salary, and they are members of a highly bureaucratic institution that uses mandatory celibacy as one of many means of psychological control over men who, granted, are very often of the personality type who need to be controlled psychologically, who are dependent on institutional living like that.

    To deny this is to deny basic sociological categories.

    Monks and religious I would not say the same thing about. Eastern Catholic priests I might not say the same thing about depending on the organizational model their particular Church uses.

    I never said priests shouldnt be paid. I said we need to reimagine the priesthood beyond just a full-time salaried celibate position. Surely a full-time celibate paid clergy will always exist, and rightly so. But supplementing it with part-time volunteer-based married men could significantly alleviate the shortage and help bring some balance and perspective to what is otherwise an often out-of-touch ivory tower.

    “Your plan is also anticlerical in the effect that it will have in that it would serve to further the destruction of the priestly identity which has already been disastrously undermined by the excessive promotion of the idea of the common priesthood of the laity and the use of laity in clerical functions such as we see with EMHC. Priests need to have their priestly identity rebuilt not utterly obliterated.”

    Again, you seem to be suggesting that somehow the men I would allow to be ordained would still be somehow “lay” or not totally clerical just because they are married and have weekday jobs.

    But frankly, my plan would totally DO AWAY WITH using laity in clerical roles, because there would be ACTUAL CLERGY to fill those roles. Far from further “laicizing” things, it would re-emphasize the distinction between clergy and lay by providing enough clergy that lay substitutes would not have to be used! We might not even have to use lay “servers” anymore, because we could ordain men from the parish actual acolytes (my plan assumes a return to the traditional rite, by the way).

    “Possibly the most absurd statement I think I have ever heard in my life.”

    Anti-clericalism and clericalism are both bad. Clericalism is used to refer to cronyism and aloofness in the political environs of the Church. Anti-clericalism, however, doesnt mean merely opposing clericalism as such, but rather opposing the concept of clergy in general. Both are wrong.

    “You are a disgusting blasphemer to I see if not a outright heretic.”

    No. I’m not saying I’m a Saint, but most Saints have similarly condemned the utter sloth and corruption of the clergy. The priesthood is a gift of God. Priests, on the other-hand, are a necessary evil that exist only so that the priesthood can be instantiated. And I feel in very good company saying that.

    “By perhaps only requiring them to work a few hours on a weekend and allow them to have the great distraction of been married and caring for their own family at the same time as the parish and at the same time as working a full time job during the week?”

    Again, you seem to be imagining a world where everything is the same except the priests we have now would have to be married and work a job too. That obviously wouldnt work.

    The priests I am proposing would not have to “care for the parish”. They’d have to say one Mass on Sundays. They would not be the full-time pastors. Again, if a parish is having a Eucharistic Service led by a permanent deacon 3 weeks out of the month because the pastor switches off between 4 different parish locations…why not just ordain that deacon to the priesthood, as long as he wouldnt be required to do anything beyond what he already is doing? Is mandatory celibacy (and I am not questioning the value of celibacy, merely the mandatory nature of it for the secular clergy) really of such institutional value that its worth depriving people of Mass who could otherwise easily have it?

    Though, if parishes could be smaller (like in the East) the work caring for them gets a lot less burdensome. But they can only be smaller (2 or 3 hundred people at most would be ideal) if we had more priests. If we did have small parishes like that, though, with Mass only on Sundays and feasts, with daily Mass left to the full-time celibate clergy at the larger parish centers (like we have now)…a volunteer clergy at that very local level might be able to handle it. And they would be clergy, not lay, remember. They’d be real priests, and real deacons, and real subdeacons, etc.

    “Your ideas have already been tried, go and take a look at the Anglican ecclesiastical community and see how it is working out for them.”

    Anglicanism was brought down by its heretical nature. Not by married priests. The Orthodox are doing fine.

  105. Fr. Andrew Moore says:

    A (maybe, maybe not) humorous aside. I was at his talk as a priest-representatve to NFPC from my diocese. The emcee in his introduction announced that Cardinal Mahoney’s talk was being sponsored by the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC). Upon ascending the dais, Cardinal Mahoney began his remarks by saying “I thought I was being sponsored by Mother Angelica.”

  106. jennifer eva says:

    catechist –

    a priest that I cherish for giving my husband and I (and many) a great start said that you will not be able to find spiritual direction and he can’t possibly give direction to all that come to him on a regular basis. He suggested what was already mentioned (so I am just making a second motion) read the doctors, scripture, the catechism, pray your heart out for clarity and make good use of the sacraments (even if it is the OF you can still receive graces and make penance of it to boot – if it is one of the dancing kind ya know)

    jenne

  107. Jane M says:

    I have seen a parish that was run by a deacon with a priest just coming in to do Mass on Sundays. When there was a priest and the deacon to help it was a nice little parish. When it was just the deacon it took about six months to destroy the parish. I have heard that deacons are specifically ordained for service to the bishop or his priests. (Check the Bible for the original deacons.) That does not translate into being a priest where you are ordained to carry out the bishop’s missions to teach and sanctify. One problem goes along with #13 which is confession. The deacon can’t do confessions, so the parish doesn’t have much, so people remain in their sin. UGH!

    As far as Mark’s suggestions go, here’s another. Orphan children who have a social worker to help them will be instructed to just call the social worker dad, or mom as the case may be. That way they won’t miss their parents since the social worker is surely doing at least as good a job — maybe even better.

  108. Mark says:

    What are you talking about?? Calling a social worker mom or dad isnt true. But if those deacons really were ordained priests, then they would really be priests. And yet I get the sense you’d treat them as second-class clerics still, as somehow “still lay” or “not really” the same as other priests.

  109. Michael says:

    Fr. Z, could you define a little more clearly what exactly constitutes a “knuckleheaded” comment? Assuming a hypothetical situation where a church hierarch is known for sentire sine Ecclesia, do we have to tiptoe around his heretical musings much like someone trying to walk around a piece of dogpoop? Or is calling a spade a spade considered “knuckleheaded”?

  110. Jakub says:

    Can’t wait for the complete move by HRM to Valyermo…I’m going East

  111. Franciscus Angelorum says:

    Frankly, I’m siding with Fr. Z on this one. The Archbishop makes good points, and most of it is what most of us want in our parishes anyway. Of course, I’d rather we implement such things in a consistently Traditional way. That is, of course, given. Just because he is a polarizing figure doesn’t mean that he’s a heretic.

    Just a reminder that we ought to be civil when discussing this – we’re all batting on the same team here… and the good Archbishop is as well, even if we disagree with him. (and I’m saying this as a moderate Trad)

  112. James says:

    Fr. Z.,

    I sure hope you are keeping your word and kicking out the people who have nothing better to do than bash Cardinal Mahoney. Many people don’t agree with him. But people, he is STILL a Prince of the Church, whether you like it or not. I was scandalized when I was at Dunwoody for BXVI’s visit. I was front row in the seminarian section. Before His Holiness got there, Cardinal Mahoney walked by to say hello to the seminarians. SEVERAL seminarians, many of whom profess a love for Jesus Christ, His Church and the Traditional Mass, TURNED THEIR BACKS ON HIM AND CROSSED THEIR ARMS. That was the worst example of hatred and ignorance I have ever seen. You may not like him, but he IS His Eminence, and last time I looked, noone writing here was a Cardinal.

  113. James says:

    Sorry…by “worst example of hatred and ignorance” I should have said “most shocking” – but you get the point.

  114. Jackie says:

    I have to say I am suprised at the disagreement with # 12- parish retreats are a wonderful way for the faithful to renew their spiritual lives without leaving their families or jobs. Whenever we have the at my parish they are wonderful with mass, confessions, and spiritual talks, usually about the mercy of GOd. I just dont understand whats wrong with taking special time as a parish to reflect and pray outside teh normal routine.

  115. Franciscus Angelorum says:

    “I have to say I am suprised at the disagreement with # 12- parish retreats are a wonderful way for the faithful to renew their spiritual lives without leaving their families or jobs. Whenever we have the at my parish they are wonderful with mass, confessions, and spiritual talks, usually about the mercy of GOd. I just dont understand whats wrong with taking special time as a parish to reflect and pray outside teh normal routine.”

    I suppose most of my older colleagues are cynical at the offerings some of the “[perverted version of] the spirit of Vatican II” types – some retreats are run by said people who don’t know how to run retreats. At our parish, luckily, the retreats, as far as theology is concerned, are pretty orthodox. And you know who organized it? Young people (the priest running the affair was perhaps the only one over 30, haha).

  116. Adam says:

    Please pray for Cardinal Mahony, that his prayer life is full and that his heart is open to the Lord.

  117. Fr. Anthony says:

    In the light of Point No.14., after many years of being a priest, I now see the benefit of collaborative ministry: we train the laity to give spiritual direction, thus allowing the priest more time to clean the church and wash and iron purificators …

  118. Jane M says:

    #3 on deacons running parishes — Does that risk “undermining the integrity of the diaconate as a ministry distinct from the ministerial priesthood”?

    I would have to say yes it does risk undermining the whole distinction of priests and deacons. As witness, commenter Mark, who wants to make deacons into priests because they do everything but the last little inch of consecrating the sacred species, he says, so no big deal letting them do that last bit. But he says, they’ll only work on Sunday morning and confession only as a special event. It is he who is treating these “ordained deacon/priests” as second class clerics.

    A father is a father full-time, every day, all day long. If I needed a priest I wouldn’t ask him if he were just ordained for Sunday and did I need to go find someone else for my week-day problems.

  119. Dinah says:

    “I’m not sure I agree with the wording, but I can appreciate the concern behind it. Where I see a major risk is that the laity will be further confused”

    I share your appreciation.

    I am not usre some of you know how far gone a lot of religious education people and lay miniters in parish work are in their understanding.

    Look at this satiric “conversation” among evil bishops imagine by one of these misguided lay persons:
    http://www.rpinet.com/wforum/index.php?t=msg&th=4380&start=0&rid=261&S=cdf8f8d7337432b9329672a4b8fa42e6

    “more from John Chuchman [sic]

    Overheard:

    B2: Frankly we’d be better off
    if these educated laity
    would just leave.
    Catholic Education
    is for kids, not adults.

    B3: Yes, and if they would just leave,
    instead of causing a ruckus,
    we could get on with making this church
    Smaller and Purer
    as XVI envisioned.

    B4: Some laity have even discovered
    that it was the Community Gathered
    that consecrated the bread and wine,
    and not our personal power.

    B1: God help us if that idea spread.”

    That part about the “community consecrating” the sacred species being a truth that the power-hungry bishops try to suppress is pure heresy, isn’t it?
    I will take correction on this, but I think we are right to be concerned about people being taught a very wrong conception of the proper roles of the lay people and the priests.

    Hope this is not one of the knucklehead comments and I sorry if so.

  120. Virgil says:

    Interesting discussions, especially around #1. (No wonder he put it first!)

    I agree, as noted by a few above, that it “works both ways”: younger priests question the orthodoxy of older ones, AND older priests question the orthodoxy of the young guys. And it’s more than just orthodoxy that is being questioned; it’s
    - orthodoxy
    - pastoral skill
    - intelligence
    - lifestyles (i.e. rectory living)
    - political affiliations

    From what I have seen, both in the US and in Europe, is a tremendous generational divide that doesn\’t fit into easy statements like Mahoney\’s. Perhaps he phrases it the way he does, simple to make the sound bite.

    The problem is much bigger than he lets on. And every bishop and Vicar from Priests has to deal with it DAILY, as their priests march in and out of the diocesan offices.

    Were I to re-phrase the Cardinal in a less diplomatic way…

    “Some really harsh generational divides among priests, in which clergy dismiss each other, insult each other, and generally cannot play well together. I am tired of trying to be referee.”

  121. Ceile De says:

    #10: What about Eastern Rite churches and Spanish, Vietnamese, English and Tagalog Novus Ordo Masses? Also,
    what about the fact that it is His Holiness himself who is trying to ensure the EF is not denied to those who
    seek it. Also, it brings us closer to our Orthodox brethren which should help ecuemism.
    #14: What does this mean? I do not want any lay person giving me spiritual direction – if I want that I can
    go to a protestant church.
    #15: I understand it – so many parishes have either rejected or are ignorant of the church’s teachings.
    Talking of which, is there any way of verifying the orthodoxy or otherwise of a parish’s RCIA program?
    I’ve heard enough of liturgical dancing and clown masses but am hoping the stories are apocryphal(my wife
    is considering converting but it seems that many RCIA organisers are hostile to teaching the catechism. Is it really that bad?).
    Finally, His Eminence is not a bad man and it is disturbing to hear how seminarians would turn their back on
    him – we should pray for him. My take FWIW is he is an administrator at heart more than an inspiring spiritual leader – each of has his own qualities and weaknesses.

  122. Ceile De says:

    One more point on #10, I agree fully with Cardinal Mahony in his online chat of 2008 as follows. I trust
    it extends to the EF.

    http://recongress.org/chat2008.htm

    Alexis: Is their anything against the Catholic church being more fun? I mean the priest talks and kids don’t
    pay attention so couldn’t we sing and dance, and make it more like gospel churches do, so kids will want to participate? I was just wondering if that was against our faith?

    CardinalMahony: Alexis: Sounds good to me! Our parishes need to offer a variety of liturgies which appeal to different age groups and to different likes. Youth Masses with groups such as Life Teen are really helpful!

  123. dominic1962 says:

    The structure of the priesthood isn’t the problem-rather, it is the moral and social concepts priests often have. Some think that they were ordained to play golf and have swanky little soirees. It is not a matter of being disconnected or in the ivory tower too much, on the contrary its more like too much time in front of the TV and too much indoctrination to be “pastoral” and whatnot.

    If some priests had half as much zeal for Tradition, the liturgy, and the traditional duties that the cura animarum had as they sometimes do for all sorts of worthless worldly pursuits, we would be unstoppable.

    Making the clergy into some sort of blend in with the laity would be a massive mistake. They need to have a strong identity as priests-and celibacy is an integral part of that in the Latin Rite. Having a bunch of “Mass priests” running around sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? Even worse is the idea that priests should just be trained with a basic Baltimore Catechism knowledge of theology and let loose. That is all we need, a bunch of ignoramuses who know rote answers to basic theological questions without any of the supporting philosophy and higher level theology. More and more Catholics are college educated now, probably to their own detriment. Often, they will not accept simple answers and while this can be very annoying, it is a fact. It used to be that Father was the most educated man in the whole town-probably more educated than any Protestant ministers around either. Now, this is not the case and people with degrees (especially more advanced degrees) seem to think that gives them a license to know everything about anything. Our poor simpleton priests armed with a simple catechism and gumption won’t stand a chance.

    No, what we need are well educated, orthodox, celibate priests who are not part of the Old Boy’s Club and are above all holy. They need to be the crack officer corps of the Restoration. We need quality over quantity, we need solid intellects-not puffed up on innovative abstraction and we certainly do not need lazy bums who are just looking for leisure and comfort.

    The Faith can survive without easy access to the Sacraments. Familiarity breeds contempt-with both the frequency and the level of respect and reverence demanded/given. Today, we in the U.S. are very lucky to often have more than one church within a town or a parish within easy driving distance. Such is not the case in much of the world, nor was it the case some years ago in this country. I think people come to expect the same service they got in the haydays of the building and vocations boom of the late 50′s and early 60′s but that is not going to happen any more even when we get things back on track. Also, when it comes to how the liturgy is said and how the other sacraments are administered, it is often very banal and pragmatic. The very idea of a Communion Service seems to harken back to the “bad old days” when people didn’t receive Communion at Mass but showed up for or stayed for Communion afterwards or at some other time. It seems that people (or at least a vocal minority) are clamoring about their “rights” but don’t seem to have a very Catholic outlook on the matter. This is the same argument used by liberal nutjobs in order to get women and married men ordained-the “hierarchical Church” is denying the Sacraments to the people because of their medieval insistence on a male only celibate priesthood. Considering their rather low theology of Eucharist and the Mass, one should wonder why they even care. When people really have a love for the Eucharist-to see it is often enough. Granted, this can go overboard and we have the problem that we have to impose an “Easter Duty” on people. That said, the possibility of less frequent but more devout Communions seem much more advantageous than frequent Communions that seem to have habit or custom as their main driving force.

    Maybe people would realize how important the Church is when they can no longer take it for granted?

  124. dominic1962 says:

    As to lay spiritual direction and the suggestions for an alternative, I don’t mean to sound like a smart aleck, but move to an orthodox diocese or seek out the local legitimate TLM order priest.

    Really, there is no other solution than to restore traditional and orthodox Catholicism to the clergy and laity and throughout the Church Universal. The fact that a hunger exists does not give one the right to demand what they think they want immediately. Work to promote good vocations, then you will have spiritual directors.

    I think, again, what some of you are really requesting is pastoral counseling or maybe some sort of prayer buddy. That sort of thing could be provided by solid laymen. Actual spiritual direction is an extremely serious burden that not even all priests should undertake-even though they have the grace of state that is connected to the Priesthood.

    Another solution? Ask around. Sometime there are good, solid old retired priests around that would be willing to take you as a directee. Sometimes there are younger priests who are interested in doing this sort of ministry. If you have an orthodox monastery or convent around, this would be a goldmine. There are also books out there that give you at least a good sense of what spiritual direction is about, I think TAN publishes one good one.

  125. Matt Q says:

    1. The statement is referring more to the fact the “older” generation of priests have the weird ideas and the younger ones are challenging them on that. The younger ones are leaning more towards Tradition and authenticity of the Faith rather than rather than “bucking the system,” as it seems.

    2. Not all parishes are like that. The local parishes around me still answer directly. Even my parish. Call us up and the The Hag answers the phone.

    3. Priest shortage is this Cardinal’s fault. Period. It is anecdotal to you non-residents, but appreciate it nonetheless.

    4. Father Z is right. Lay ministers could use more instruction. Half of them couldn’t even answer properly why they do what they do, and when asked about the Faith. It would should also be recommended that lay ministry doesn’t mean equating them to the priesthood.

    5. Again, the Cardinal’s fault!! The sentiment of the seminarian gives impetus to the statement I made above about the “older” generation being challenged–their nonsense is being challenged in other words.

    6. Father Z is correct again. The younger generation believes everyone is equal–per se–and that’s it. We are getting tired of the “multi-cultural” stuff which actually divides and emphasizes difference rather than unity.

    7. Father Z is correct again. Just say the black and do the red. There really isn’t much to “plan” with the Liturgy. The Mass can take care of itself. This is why Mass in the vernacular is so vulnerable to being mucked up. It’s too open to caprice and personality. There is a lack of grasp of the Bible by many priests and their homilies are proof.

    8. Yes, Father Z again. Just being chummy with people and exchanging points of belief are not where it’s at regarding ecumenism. One must reach the point where he becomes evangelical. Jesus Christ is Lord and there is no other. Dialogue is always important but always assert the Church’s position on matters and especially salvation.

    9. Regarding “comprehensive immigration reform,” the average churchgoer is tiring greatly of that slogan. We all know, especially here in the Southwest, it means illegal aliens from Mexico. The average citizen is not against immigration but illegal immigration which flows unchecked from the Southern border, and yet everyone is expected to agree with some kind of reform to allow them to jump to the head of the line while countless others are jumping through hoops and waiting years to get here LEGALLY. Yes, we do tire of the local Church’s “immigration reform” routine and we tire of having to pay for everyone else’s BS.

    In this regard, Father Z, no, the economy has nothing to do with this. Unless one lives here and seen and knows what goes on here, no one knows a thing about Los Angeles and Southern California and what goes on here.

    10. I agree with Father Z. Let’s not get started here. In closer circles I have some very choice opinions about this Cardinal and those closest to me know explicitly what I think of this individual.

    11. Same, and I believe the Cardinal should do well to stay away from the subject of sexuality as he has so mismanaged the subject in more ways than one.

    12. Parish retreats are great and have great value, but if it’s going to be more of the same we get at Mass, I don’t waste my time even considering it.

    13. Father Z, right again. Yes, more people need to go to confession. Randomly pop in at church during Confessions and see everyone who isn’t there. Week after month, the wait for Confession is nil because there is hardly anyone there but yet Communion takes up to twenty minutes on Sundays. There is a major disconnect with this picture.

    14. Spiritual direction on the part of the laity is a very bad and dangerous idea. Would one take medical advice from someone not a doctor? About legal advice from one not a lawyer? Why would anyone then consider spiritual direction from one not a priest. Granted, there are lousy priests, but to the extent a priest has been educated in things as opposed to a lay person, there is no splitting hairs here. We all share and are fed by each other, but to officially place oneself in the hands of a non-professional ( in this case, the priest is very much the professional ) is a disaster in the making.

    15. Right again, Father Z. It is what it is because it is a practical reality.

    16. Again, the false/deliberate blurring of the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood of the Faithful. The twain does not, cannot, meet.

    17. I can take it or leave it, just like these points of discussion the Cardinal has brought up.

  126. 1. Based on he Cardinal’s “Religious Education Conference” every year giving a large public platform to all sorts of dissenters (including the directly heretical positions, like women priests), I question the Cardinal’s orthodoxy. Trying to deflect the issue over acceptance of truth in faith with something like “we don’t get along” is the process of a relativist – I’m OK and you’re OK. In a theological term, modernism.

    2. A practical problem to be solved.

    3. The top priority should be to fix the root problem – getting priests. But that requires orthodoxy, as is shown in the vocation count for dioceses that do better in adhering to the Church’s teachings.

    4. Yeah, like the Baltimore Catechism and not the Religious Education Congress.

    5. Sounds like an excuse to blame the priest for not accepting that they are just one of the crowd, as in a democratic Church. Seems like a means to push the integration and confusion of the mixing of roles for laity and clergy.

    6. The Church has always been multi-cultural, since united by faith, it keeps the best part of the culture and eliminates the bad parts. A good example is when Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego.

    7. Yes, a reverent “saying the black and doing the red” will provide a fabulous improvement.

    8. So what is the situation with “too fast” ecumenical movement?

    9. Perhaps he doesn’t like the debate over how to prudentially handle illegal immigration? This sounds like a way to place blame on those who do not agree with his way.

    10. There you go – the “Latin Mass” is a threat – to the Cardinal. Quite telling.

    11. How about saying what the Church teaching is, instead of more I’m OK you’re OK relativism?

    12. “More parish retreats” are good only IF they adhere to Church teachings. Re-work the Religious Education Conference first, that is make sure only real Catholic truth is contained within.

    13. “Poorly realized renewal of reconciliation?” For starters, the priests must talk about sin and repentance, and adhering to Church teachings. Loss of the sense of sin needs to be fixed first. But then that requires orthodoxy, that same pesky problem.

    14. More democratization of the Church. Again, focus on the root problem, not democratic symptoms.

    15. It would be good to know why so many people go outside their parish.

    16. “communal approach?” Seems like another democratization feature, based on fewer priests, thus providing an excuse for laity. But there is no “communal extreme unction” sacrament.

    17. I am reminded of Archbishop Sheen’s comments when he showed the fallacy of just needing better organization to solve problems. No, we need faithfulness and then God’s Grace will provide the impetus needed.

    In summary, I am not impressed, nor surprised.

  127. Greg Quartano says:

    #1

    Interesting use of the word “orthodoxy”. If he had used the word “heterodoxy”, the comment would make more sense and be more truthful.

  128. Robert Badger says:

    I studied in two different seminaries. I did my college seminary at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania (just outside Philadelphia) and my theological studies at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, CA.

    St. John’s was, and presumably still is, very big about collaborative ministry. Our homiletics professor thought that we should delegate as as much as possible when we became pastors so we could spend a lot of time preparing our homilies. For him, preaching was the important duty that a priest could have, even more important than celebrating the sacraments, or so one would be lead to believe by what he taught us. He was also adamantly opposed to Eucharistic Adoration. To quote him, “Jesus said ‘Take and Eat’, not ‘Take and Stare.’” There were, however, some wonderful professors I would never have met had I not gone there. Thankfully, not everyone was of his mindset.

    One thing which still needs to be looked at is how one balances lay ministry with priestly ministry. Otherwise, one tends to end up with either a laicized clergy or clericized laity. The late Monsignor Sarkis Garabedian, an Armenian Catholic priest friend who had faculties for the Latin Rite used to tell me, “It is a scandal what you Latins are doing with your liturgy!” He spoke to me more than once about he spent a great deal of time hearing confessions in hospitals. His own parish was very small. He thought it was a scandal that all these Extraordinary Ministers of Communion had replaced the priests in visiting the sick, as they could not grant absolution.

  129. RBrown says:

    Mark,

    I disagree with much of what you wrote.

    1. It is true that US ciocesan priests tend to be bureaucrats, but that is not the case in most of the rest of the world. And so it would be a mistake to base any concept of the diocesan priesthood on what happens in the US.

    2. I think you have a false concept of theology. Because theology is the science of God (considered according to Revelation, according to pure reason, and according to both), it must be ordered toward wisdom. Every priest is called upon to explain the Mysteries of Christ and His Church. It is intrinsic to the priesthood because of the intimate nature of Word and Sacrament.

    A priest has to be able to explain the Mysteries in homilies and questions from both Catholics and non-Catholics. Socrates said that philosophy is a meditation on death. Of course, a priori that means it is also a mediation on how to live. The same is true for theology.

    And, perhaps more importantly, he has to be able to explain them to himself.

    In so far as theology is the science of God and ordered toward wisdom, it is primarily contemplative. From such an understanding of its nature, theology must be said to have an intimate relationship to the interior life. In fact, theology properly done has much in common with the Prayer of Active Recollection (cf. St Teresa’s Second Mansion).

    I do agree, however, that a certain approach to theology has been too academic, reducing it to little else than a branch of library science. This approach is more textual than conceptual, too much a matter of information and not enough of comprehension. To a great extent, this approach has been adopted by the Jesuits.

    Theology can be an academic discipline, but primarily it is an intellectual one. And so not only do I doubt that someone can learn theology in three weeks, but I also think it can barely be started in three years.

    3. The advantages of celibacy are many, incl the complete dedication of the priest to his vocation. Has celibacy been used to propagate a false, ossified version of the Church? Yes, but corruptio optimi est pessima.

  130. TNCath says:

    1. Conversations with many priests ordained in the late 1960′s and throughout the 1970′s reveal that they are very concerned about how “conservative” the seminiarians and newly ordained are. Quoth one priest, “Yeah, let’s see how conservative they are when they have to deal with the real world.” At a recent Chrism Mass, a bishop remarked to his MC about the reverence of his seminarians who were serving the Mass, “What the hell are they bowing all the time for?” These incidences do provide some insight into the attitude of the up and coming generation. I hope and pray it continues!

    2. I understand the need for a human being to answer the phone as well. Elderly people, often those requiring a priest in the event of an emergency, find the “press 1, press 2″ directions to be confusing and frustrating. Moreover, the last thing one wishes to do when faced with a crisis is to get a recorded message. Reminds me of the infamous line by Rodney “No Respect” Dangerfield: “I called Suicide Prevention and they put me on hold!”

    3. The permanent diaconate seems to be a blessing as well as a curse to the Church. Sometimes these well-meaning, good men can be misused from being perceived as “glorified altar boys” to becoming overly caught up in their own importance, particularly those who administer “priestless parishes.” Additionally, it also seems that some priests use them whenever possible to avoid having to lead devotions such as Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

    4. Not knowing the very basics of the Faith is a problem we have had for the last 40 years. It that very ” theological and pastoral formation” for lay ministers, at a time when the economy is prompting greater reliance on volunteers and deacons” that the cardinal speaks of that has us in the mess we are in.

    5. In other words, Cardinal Mahony wants the priests to less rigid in following liturgical, canonical, and moral precepts?

    6. In other words, Cardinal Mahony wants priests and seminarians from other cultures to water down their cultural and liturgical expressions as we have done here in the U.S.?

    7. While I agree with the text of what the cardinal says, I’m wondering what his interpretation of “Say the black, do the red” would be.

    8. Perhaps 40 years of “ecumenical efforts” has taught us that we really can’t be as “ecumenical” as we thought?

    9. There are a wide variety of opinions, within as well as outside the Church, as to what the Church should or should not be doing in this regard. Whatever the answer is, the response should be merciful yet orthodox.

    10. And how do clown Masses, folk Masses, polka Masses, mariachi Masses, Masses that feature liturgical dance, and other para-liturgical events foster “parish unity”? Had liturgical reform been properly implemented in the first place, we wouldn’t have these “parallel communities.”

    11. Does the cardinal think that the Church’s “position” on sexuality is implausible and uncompelling? If so, why is that? Because encyclicals like Humanae Vitae are often ignored by both bishops and laity? Because Notre Dame and other Catholic colleges and universities choose to invite and honor people who embraces abortion, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, and the like? If the “position” of the Church regarding sexuality is not plausible or compelling, could it be that it is because we aren’t doing enough to stand firm on our convictions and faith?

    12. I’m all for quiet time in parishes, but do we have to have a speaker? How about parishes having a 40 Hours instead of a preached retreat?

    13. Was the Cardinal really pushing for auricular confession or was he making a veiled reference to revamping the sacrament to allow for the widespread use of general absolution?

    14. I tend to equate the term “spiritual direction” with “guru.” How about getting the laity to find a good confessor? A good confessor is the better than any spiritual director or psychologist in the world!

    15. Hey, at least they are getting baptized and married in the Church!

    16. Sometimes I think these “communal anointings” turn into more of a show or publicity stunt than an expression of the parish’s care of the sick. Besides, not everybody wants to be publicly anointed.

    17. In such a large archdiocese such as Los Angeles, I can see where this would be very difficult to accomplish. And, honestly, aren’t there “bigger fish to fry” right now than this issue?

  131. Latekate says:

    The term “social concern” (#9) needs to be defined. Is Mahoney lamenting folks backing away from Marxist/collectivist politics endorsed by change agents within the Church? Is he referring to the apathy toward charity that arises among people when the state seizes and redistributes wealth to “the deserving” to “end poverty”? I can understand the Church being FOR immigration from Mexico and S. America. These are Catholics immigrating (thank goodness!). BUT unchecked immigration into a welfare state will bankrupt the state and the politics of a lot of these immigrants is leftist. The only moral recourse is to eliminate the welfare state and allow the immigration.

    From most of this it seems Mahoney wants to operate the Church like a commune, make the clergy superfluous (what’s the point of becoming a celibate priest if the laity and diaconate can perform the same functions)? The point of multiculturalism is that all cultures are equally good and this is not true. In fact, Western Civilization, founded for the most part by the Catholic Church, has been proven far superior to many if not all (granted I’m biased) other cultures. The very idea of multiculturalism (as well as Marxism, feminism, Fabianism, and many other ideas) arose in a culture willing to tolerate it, Western Civ. Why would Mahoney want to minimalize this??

    As far as Church “positions on sexuality”, this phrase reminds me of Obamas phrase (I heard this AM) “Constitutional TRADITIONS”…not Constitutional LAW, but the much less binding, almost archaic “traditions”. Interesting and speaks volumes…Orwell would love it.

  132. “What are you talking about?? Calling a social worker mom or dad isnt true. But if those deacons really were ordained priests, then they would really be priests. And yet I get the sense you’d treat them as second-class clerics still, as somehow “still lay” or “not really” the same as other priests.”

    That is because those who would be ordained under your plan would be second class or rather second rate clerics, sure they would have the same priestly powers that God provides to all those who receive Holy Orders but just as there is already a difference in quality between one priest to the next now there would be an even greater gulf in quality caused by your proposals between full time priests who are always at our service and the part time priest who only serve us a few hours on a weekend.

    All other things been equal a person who commits himself to doing something full time is always going to exceed the ability of someone who only does that something a few hours on a weekend. The difference between a current full time priest and a weekend priest would be like the difference between a Army Ranger and a member of a Militia. I know who I would prefer defending my life out of those two groups and likewise I know who I would want defending my soul out of a priest who has sacrificed everything to follow his vocation to the priesthood and a priest who has no distinct vocation and is instead mixing the lay life and the clerical.

    Not only would your proposal greatly reduce the priestly identity by reducing the distinction between the priesthood and laity it would also reduce priestly morale which is already dangerously low. Another effect would be the reduction of the quality of the clergy still further which would have the knock on effect of reducing the respect of the laity for the priesthood.

    It also furthers the extremely destructive idea that religion is something you only do on a Sunday.

    It would be a complete disaster.

  133. Andiclare says:

    Mark said: “Priests, on the other-hand, are a necessary evil that exist only so that the priesthood can be instantiated. And I feel in very good company saying that.”

    It doesn’t matter if how many other people may agree with you, that doesn’t make your opinions right. I can’t hardly believe some of the things you’re saying here. Priests are a necessary evil? “Their job is essentially to read texts out-loud and wave their hands over things”…? Without the priests we have no sacraments, no Eucharist. You say you don’t hate the priesthood but all you’re trying to do is tear it down at every turn.

    Thank God it’s not your job or responsibility (or any of ours) to “re-imagine” what the priesthood is for the Church. The priesthood was instituted by Christ himself. That’s either good enough for you or it isn’t.

    Reading what you’ve written here, I’m wondering why are you even Catholic, Mark? You realize that the Protestant Reformation was fueled by anti-clericallism more than anything else?

  134. RBrown says:

    The priesthood is a gift of God. Priests, on the other-hand, are a necessary evil that exist only so that the priesthood can be instantiated.

    I can only conclude that the nature of evil wasn’t covered in those threes weeks you insisted are sufficient for learning theology.

    And I feel in very good company saying that.
    Comment by Mark

    I think our definitions of “good company” are vastly different.

  135. Dino says:

    As one who grew up in the Cardinal’s see, and temporarily in an adjoining diocese, I read most of this as something positive coming from one who hasn’t shown this kind of view for a long time.
    Does this mean he’ll give up the dancing girls, wicker baskets and Kool-Aid pitchers?

  136. Therese says:

    #10, the notion of “threats to parish unity” accounted to the TLM are a very real problem around here. Our little “stable group” is constantly being shuttled about by schedule changes–the need for a permanent location for these Masses is growing quite urgent. (The past Christmastide was quite literally spent in a cave–in the basement chapel of a secular retirement home that welcomed us with open arms and treated us with such kindness we were sad to leave. They do not, however, have a consecrated altar or even kneelers.) The most constant complaint I hear from those who would like to attend is the difficulty of figuring out where we are on any given Sunday. (I have this problem occasionally myself–and I’m the unofficial secretary of the group.)

    I am on good terms with one particular pastor who could do much good for our group (indeed, for his parish as a whole) by giving us a home, but his fear that the TLM is a threat to unity have stopped him so far. Here we are, finally free to pray this Mass, and no closer to being more than second-class citizens in our own Church.

    There is another wrinkle in the situation: a local SSPX chapel is thriving just 30 miles away, and watching carefully how we are treated by the local ordinary and his priests. So far, the message being sent is not an encouraging one…

  137. Cathguy says:

    Hang in there Therese!

    I hope I am not misreading your post, but I seem to see in it a temptation to jump ship to the SSPX.

    I hope you have not suffered any persecution for your love of the old Mass. I have recently. I know what it is like.

    Despite the fact that I have undergone some abuse at the hands of the establishment (relatively serious) that does not mean that I am ready to jump ship to the SSPX or an independent chapel of Tradition (although I am SORELY tempted).

    Read what they have to say on EVERYTHING before making such a drastic move. The truth is that the way the new Mass is typically celebrated in most parishes is EXTREME. But, arguably, so too was Lefebvre. There is health there in the middle, but finding one’s way today can be difficult. And some priests, especially well connected ones, can use their power to destroy you if you let them. Don’t let them. And whatever you do, if you love the old Mass and tradition, DON’T TAKE A JOB FOR THE CHURCH. Especially in the classroom. Better to be a public school teacher where you can make some money and support your family and not worry about being co-opted by the establishment. MAINTAIN INDEPENDENCE FROM THE CLERICAL STRUCTURE AT ALL COSTS FOR YOUR LIVELIHOOD. If you don’t, they will kill you. Praise God I did. Otherwise, I may be homeless on the street right now thanks to a cleric who hates the Catholic Mass and hates Catholic laity who believe.

    The terrible abuses that go on are enough to try the faith of the best Catholic. There are good and holy priests coming up! There is hope!

    Pray pray pray. No matter how filthy (and it can be VERY filthy) the human side of the Church should not detract us from its divine nature. The Eucharist is there, even if it can be very hard to perceive it sometimes. And the SSPX do not have all the answers, though they think they do. Read everything…

    Something that helps me survive is this: “place not your trust in princes.” Clerics are men, who are often heroic and wonderful. Far too often they fail. That is to be expected. Only Jesus Christ, His Virgin Mother, and the saints in Heaven won’t fail you. Everyone else can and will. Don’t place your trust in them. Always focus on CHRIST, the Sacraments, and the Church triumphant. The Church militant has enemies in the gates, even to the highest levels. Just pray, trust, and be faithful. Don’t let them make you leave. Many of them want you and your community and the Mass to go away, be with the SSPX. They desire the split. Their liberal hearts yearn for schism. They can ignore you and call you names if you go outside.

    Don’t give them the satisfaction.

  138. Therese says:

    Cathguy: “I hope I am not misreading your post, but I seem to see in it a temptation to jump ship to the SSPX.”

    Thanks for the encouraging words, Cathguy–I’m not going anywhere. I have hung in with Our Mother the Church through thick and thin. (And things got mighty thin when dancing girls appeared during a Mass celebrated at a Midwestern Catholic education conference.)

    The SSPX have nothing I want–rather, they have something I want: my fellow Catholics back.