A while back I told you that in England some priests have started a new Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. They want a Confraternity which is faithful to Catholic doctrine and their identity as Catholic priests. I know quite a few of these men and they are great priests.
Therefore, it was simply a matter of waiting a few days before this fine initiative was attacked in The Tablet (aka The Bitter Pill aka RU 486 aka FishnChipsWrap).
Here is a letter accepted by RU for your disedification in the 9 April number. My emphases and comments:
Dubious models of priesthood?
It was interesting to read about the new Confraternity of Catholic Clergy in the British Province of Pope St Gregory the Great (News from Britain and Ireland, 2 April). The theologically dubious description of the priest as being an image of Christ, acting in the person of Christ, and possessing an “active instrumental power” all in a way in which the layman respectively is not, cannot, and does not, betrays a clericalist and power-based notion of priesthood at odds with any notion of service. [I am not sure from which planet the writer came, but on my planet the Catholic Church teaches these very things about the difference between priests and lay lay people.] This could all be put down to a traditionalist nostalgia for past priestly status or to an outmoded and flawed theology of the priesthood, were it not for the fact that psychologists and others are very aware that it is precisely that kind of power-focused selfdefinition that has in part contributed to the abuse of power within the priesthood, including the sexual abuse of children. [Nasty business, this. Affirm that there is a difference between the priesthood of the laity and the priesthood of the ordained and you on the same course as a child abuser. Tell that to the feminist nuns who abused kids.]
John J. Dunne
Bridge of Earn, Perth
Okay… take a moment to … I don’t know… perhaps to wash your face after that slimy green-ink diatribe.
I don’t think any Catholic publication, even one such as The Tablet, should print a letter like that. Shame on the editor.
And to the writer:
I, a priest, can consecrate the Eucharist and absolve sins, and even confirm if necessary. If you are a lay person, you can’t. Even if you are a deacon, you can’t.
I, a priest, act in the person of Christ when I consecrate or absolve or forgive your sins during sacramental confession. I, a priest, am alter Christus when I do those things in a way that you, a lay person or even a deacon, cannot be. I, a priest, when I do those things, do them by Christ’s power through my poor and unworthy person.
I, a priest, can hold certain offices in the Church, which you, if you are a lay person, can’t.
I, a priest, am not better than you, if you are a lay person, but I have received a sacrament which made a change to my soul. I am different. I will be a priest in that sense forever, even after death, in heaven or in hell (God forbid).
If you are a lay person, you share in the priesthood of Christ insofar as you are baptized, but you are not a priest in the sense that I am a priest.
That’s how it is in my Church. The Catholic Church.
I hope the English Confraternity grows in numbers quickly. Let it be attacked often in the pages of The Pill.
Lay people can join as “friends” of the Confraternity.
Also, the Confraternity is going to be able to take donations through a PayPal button on their website. I hope many of the readers, in honor of The Tablet will go mobilize in support of these good men and make a donation…
… and then write a letter to the editor of The Tablet saying how much you gave and why.