Here are a few paragraphs from his longer post, which I encourage you to take a look at.
We jump in media res and I added some emphases …
Professional jealousy and clerical sycophants are what discourage priests. When their bishops do not treat them as sons of the church but as lower level managers whose task is to be a company man at all times, then you get some unhappy priests on your hands. When the same guys have been on Personnel Board for the past 20 to 30 years; when assignments are made not based on qualifications but on church politics and ‘who you know rather than what you know;’ when special treatment is given to those who went to the bishop’s alma mater while those who had to fight tooth and nail to preserve their orthodoxy and virtue while in the seminary are made to feel like misfits after ordination; these make for disillusioned clergy to be sure.
Foibles of parish life are like family life. Any husband and father realizes that no family is perfect and that every day has its challenges. Likewise, every priest knows that no parish is perfect (and no pastor or parochial vicar is perfect either). There are good days and bad days. Many challenges and many opportunities for grace and conversion. What deflates priests, is not celibacy or Magisterium, but subterfuge, duplicity and deceit from their own ordained brethren. When church ceases to be about faith and more about solvency, then priestly zeal can drop dramatically. Yes, bills must be paid and responsible financial procedures and policies be in operation. On the other hand, bishops do not need ‘yes’ men, they need honest, courageous, and un-ambitious advisors to give them reliable and responsible counsel. Sometimes, you wonder if the old Soviet Union did not reincarnate or morph itself into a diocesan bureaucracy.
Priests are happy being priests and doing priestly things, like celebrating the Sacraments, teaching the faith, visiting the sick, and helping parents form their children into Christian men and women. What makes us unhappy is being treated like we’re guilty before we even know what the accusation is. What kills priestly zeal is corporate red tape and extreme micromanagement. I promised respect and obedience to my bishop and his successors but not to a committee or board advising him on numerous matters. That is not to say most priests who work in chanceries and central administration are not devout, sincere, hard working or competent men. Most are. But there are places where the tenure has been so long and the cronyism so pronounced that middle management makes itself indispensible and necessary. During the worst of the clergy sex scandals, it was not just the perverts who misbehaved and a few bishops who swept things under the carpet, it was also a few middle management clergy giving bad advice and a few becoming a buffer between priest and bishop. When that happens, good priests are unable to communicate important information to their chief shepherd because someone in between has blocked or intercepted the message. Access to the bishop for any priest has to be unfettered as any son would be to his dad. When the corporate model is enshrined, however, it feels like only the vice presidents and board members have access and lower level employees just do their work and keep quiet.
I have been ordained 23½ years and can truthfully say I would not be happy doing or being anything else in the world. I love being a priest and love doing priestly things. What disheartens me and my colleagues is not the human element but the dark side of human nature which can tarnish any human heart, be it clergy or laity, priest, deacon or bishop.
When priests are told they need to get anger management treatment merely because they preached a homily in support of Humanae Vitae and in condemnation of birth control and abortion; when priests are admonished for enforcing canon law and requiring sponsors for baptism and confirmation to be Catholics in good standing; when priests are reprimanded for exercising their legitimate liturgical options as stated in universal law; when pastors spend sleepless nights over meeting diocesan assessments; when assignments and transfers are arbitrary and haphazard rather than based on experience, history and qualifications; then zeal begins to erode and evaporate.
On the other hand, when priests feel like they actually belong and work in a family of faith rather than in a corporate business, they are willing to endure any hardship, obstacle or inconvenience. When priests feel that their bishops see them as spiritual sons rather than ordained employees, they will love them in return and serve them to the best of their abilities. Most priests ARE happy but they can be even happier. Does not mean more pay or more vacation. Does not mean eliminating celibacy or the hierarchy. It means ditching the corporate model once and for all. Bishops are more than Vice Presidents and corporate executives. They are SHEPHERDS and priests and deacons are there to serve and assist them.
It helps when church authority is employed to discipline all instances of misbehavior (like teaching heterodoxy or committing liturgical abuse) and not just when it involves personally disagreeing with one’s superiors or their prudential judgments. Stepping one someone’s toes is not the same gravity as denying a revealed truth or committing sacrilege, yet often those crimes go unnoticed or unpunished while minor infractions of diocesan policy are punished with severity and swiftness.
The aftermath of the scandals has made some of the faithful suspicious but most still trust and love their priests. The excessive and over-the-top sacrosanct respect given to the clergy until the end of the 1950’s has gone and rightfully so. Sadly, some parishioners have become more bellicose, contentious and disrespectful especially when a priest is merely defending church doctrine or enforcing church discipline. Yet, even these burdens can be borne as long as the priest feels he is supported downtown as well. Priests expect to be called on the carpet if we are guilty of misbehaving in any way but we also presume to be backed up when we defend Holy Mother Church by those lukewarm Catholics who seek to make her irrelevant in matters of faith and morals.
When the human element of the Church is fair and just, that enables the rank and file to busy themselves with the pastoral work that has to be done. When there is cronyism, politics, skullduggery and intrigue among the clergy (upper and lower), then the zeal can be robbed from those who find it distasteful and inappropriate. Happiness is the natural object of the human person that is why we seek eternal happiness in the next life. Happiness is like joy. It comes from having inner peace which is tranquility of order. When our will conforms to the Divine Will, there is harmony and peace in our soul and that creates a sense of happiness. Knowing you are doing what the Lord wants you to do makes you happy. But human beings can also bring unhappiness when they distort the truth and when they deny justice to fellow human beings.
A former bishop told me that he loved to get letters of support for his priests since most people only write their bishop when they want to complain about a priest and rarely to compliment him. We have all had the experience of the nasty letter from the irate parishioner who feels mistreated. Whenever a positive letter came in, this bishop made the same effort to call the priest in and share the contents. If more parishioners wrote supportive letters before their pastor got transferred or before he leaves this earth, it might help keep more guys happy on the job.
When you doubt that your efforts have any effect, that there may be no fruit to your labor, it can be discouraging. Hence, I always tell people when I visit other parishes that they need to express their satisfaction from time to time, to their priest and to their bishop. No need to remind them to complain when he is not doing what he is supposed to do, people react immediately and rightfully so. Jesus often gave encouragement and so should all of us.
Father made some good points here.
Also, in the section I cut out, he talks about bishops and getting priests named “monsignors”.