NOTA BENE: I originally posted this back in 2012.
I ran across this by chance looking for something else. It struck me as opportune, given what is going on in some places… the lot of some tradition-leaning priests. It’s a bit ironic that, in 2012, the cleats were perhaps on the other foot.
I have watched Moneyball a couple times.
The movie offers grist for our mill.
In one scene Carlos Peña is curtly traded by the A’s to the Tigers because of internal team management (vision) conflicts.
Priests are mostly treated like indentured servants. The “Dallas” thing made this worse. The lack of charity and justice with with many priests have been treated should fill many with concern and anger.
Leaving aside – without question – all cases of priests who commit crimes, could a baseball model work better?
After all, this isn’t a game we are playing!
In Moneyball, the main characters want to get the stats down to one number. The overriding task of the Church is to get as many people as possible to heaven (i.e., keep them out of hell).
A scene at the chancery of the Diocese of Black Duck:
“Hey Bob, do you have a moment? Have a seat…..
[Father “Just Call Me Bob” Liberal sits down in Msgr. Manager’s office.]
“Father Bob, you’ve been traded to Archdiocese of Red Bird. Here is the number for Msgr. Rossi’s office. He is their Manager and he is expecting your call. Good luck and God bless you, Father!”
Later, in Red Bird, Msgr. Rossi receives Father’s call:
“Bob! I’ve been expecting your call. Welcome to the Archdiocese of Red Bird! We believe with the Cardinal Archbishop, Bob, that you’ll be a fine fit with our diocese’s “Spirit of Vatican II vision”. His Eminence wanted me to tell you that you will be a great asset here as chaplain to the Aging Post Catholic Lesbian Sisters Who Evolved Out Of Perpetual Adoration Of Jesus In The Poor-Oppressing Bejeweled Monstrance. Check your email for your airline ticket. We have already contacted a moving company for you, Bob. Your condo is ready. See you soon!”
And so, the small market Black Ducks, who because of a shift to a more traditional Catholic vision has been ordaining 6 men a year – good farm teams in parishes and from elsewhere – send the 55-year old liberal “Bob” to the big market Red Birds – who ordained 1 and where his liberal vision is still the norm. In exchange, the Black Ducks receive 2 younger priests. Their love of the older liturgical forms made them sub-optimal for the Red Birds. The Black Ducks also picked up a priest-canonist who had to refused to rubber stamp annulments at the Red Bird Tribunal.
Baseball is the game God loves the most.
Is it analogous to how the Church is might be governed?
I dunno. Maybe. Maybe I am just venting even as I throw out some ideas for discussion.
Consider: Isn’t this how bishops are handled these days?
In the ancient Church, moving a bishop from a diocese (to which they had been wedded) to another diocese was considered adultery. That model has, it seems, changed.
Obligatory membership in territorial parishes is all but over. Law will eventually reflect this change (unless the global economy collapses first and people can’t just drive around anymore).
Incardination is less than the vinculum particolare that the Council Father’s idealized. The assignment of priests to parishes is limited to 6 years with a possible renewal. What’s with that? Can a priest really do anything in a parish in that time? I think not.
Everyone is on the move. If lay people have multiple careers, well….
Since dioceses and parishes are so heterogeneous these days, well….
There are lessons to be learned from the scenario in Moneyball.
Given our challenges right now, we have to think outside the box.
First, let’s accept that our entire Church is “an island of misfit toys”. Nevertheless, some toys can fit better in, and be happier in, another “fit”. Then “market forces” can take over… okay… call it divine providence.
We have to depend on Our Lord’s promises to the Church. Christ didn’t promise that the Church would prevail against Hell in the Diocese of Black Duck, but we know that He uses us for His plan and purposes. We must use our gifts and work out in prayer and in the tangle of our minds and with the help of grace and from history to discern His will.
As times change, the basics remain the same.
We must, however, change our approaches at the times require.
“Father, have a seat…”