From a reader…
What if… How hard is it for a priest to move away from one diocese and be incardinated in another? Wouldn’t it be a loud and stunning message if, say, 100 or so priests decided to move away from dioceses with bad bishops to one to four dioceses with faithful bishops.
How hard is it for a priest to move to another diocese? It is as easy or as hard as the bishops involved want to make it.
Yes. A hundred priests suddenly wanting to leave and actually taking action. That would make a real statement. Of course that scenario involves men leaving also their homes, that is, the area where they grew up, which also means distance from their families. Our Lord did say that we should be willing to leave everything and everyone for His sake. And it is true that people do leave their home turf for work or for love or for other interests. But it is a factor.
Also, priests are not just pawns on a chessboard, or warm bodies to be plugged into empty slots. They are treated that way quite often, of course. Often they are treated like indentured servants who have, barely, right to Christian burial… and that’s about it. Just think for a moment about how bishops treated priests via the Dallas Charter, which has ongoing, seriously annoying and unjust implications for priests. By the way: the bishops exempted themselves from the burdens they laid on the priests.
Another thing to be considered is the pressure on the excardinating bishop and the incardinating bishop from other bishops! I suspect that they would want to snuff out such a development and make it is hard as possible to do.
The overall scheme of moving, according to the Church’s laws, involves a “trial period” in the new diocese of several years. Also, excardination from one diocese shouldn’t be denied unless there is a good reason. Of course it is possible for a bishop to decide to be unreasonable. Bishops can torture priests in a thousand ways.
And there are other human factors involved. For example, how well would the local presbyterate welcome the influx? It could be that a sudden increase in numbers would be very welcome indeed, especially by overworked priests. Still, it could happen that the incoming men would forever be treated as “outsiders”. That happens.
Also, on the human level, each priest has his own individual history and issues. A bishop would not be wrong to consider that, even though he might be hungry for more priests.
Alas, I suspect that this factor suppresses the last embers of warmth some bishops might have, so that they move reluctantly, everyone (lawyers) hounding them to be careful, etc. “Maybe if you drag it out, the potential for problems will go away and it won’t look like it’s your fault.”
It would be an amazing bishop who, seeing a decent priest who would be a good fit, says, “Yes, please do come!” instead of a hemming and hawing “Well, okay. I guess you can come.” It is far more likely that a bishop would leave guys twisting in the wind, oblivious to the pain.
The old Roman adage is “cunctando regitur mundus… the world is ruled by delaying”. This cuts two ways, of course. One could digress on the disaster that 6 year assignments for priests has produced over time. But I won’t.
In the case of a priest moving – or a seminarian for that matter – be wary of going to a place because there is a good bishop there. Bishops come and bishops go. Go to some place because of the bishop and, bammo, he retires, moves or dies. Then there comes “a new pharaoh who knows not Joseph” and you are well and truly up the proverbial creek. The potential for heartbreak is galactic.
Lay people could experience this by uprooting and moving close to a great parish. Then, wham!, the pastor changes and everything goes to hell in a handbasket.
A take away for seminarians would be this. It is far more prudent, if it is necessary to move for the sake of your vocation (if not to religious life or a specialized group), to go to a place where you think you will be happy, bishop notwithstanding.
I’m afraid that the state of affairs is highly iffy right now, my dear readers. There is little unity or consistency of Cult, Code and Creed in the Church right now, amongst priests and bishops too, which makes local changes a real crap shoot.
And as I write, I am conscious that, in the USA at least, this is the time of year that lots of diocese priests’ assignments are being made and men are moving around.