This blog post addresses some of the causes of the diminished authority of the priest in the Western world.
I for myself would add my two pence: what makes most of the credibility problem of priests nowadays is that very many of them are as fake as a six pound note, clearly ashamed of their own profession and – generally speaking and forgetting for a moment that they can consecrate the host – a waste of space.
A priest who is not afraid of being a Catholic priest can be criticised, berated or even insulted. But everyone, even his own enemies, will know he is authentic.
On the other hand, no one has any use for a priest who speaks like a snake oil salesman, never disagrees with anyone if it costs even a shade of conflict, and limits himself to the most useless, trite banalities about social justice (for which we already have bad politicians galore), or “the joy of Christ” which strangely seems to exclude the fear of the Lord, or to the flattery of his own parishioners in the most sugary, cheesy, stupid way (“thank you for being you!” is one I will never forget).
Then of course the one or other is suspected of being a homo, or does not give any sign of testosterone ownership at all. They have suspiciously high-pitched voices, and an affected gentleness of ways unbecoming a man. When people are left wondering whether everything is in order with him, Father has already lost.
In order to be respected, a Catholic priest must be, in this order, a) a man and b) a Catholic. If the one or other component is lacking, the public (not only the Pewsitter) will see the guy for what he is: a fake, a pretense, an excuse of a priest. As a result, no one will respect him. Not the real Catholics, and not those outside the Church. Fake vocations have a way of stinking from very far away and in the same way as true revolutionaries can easily spot the fake revolutionary, true Catholics can easily spot the modern priest as a fraud.
No, I don’t think it has to do with education, as priests used to be respected by illiterate peasants and extremely well educated people alike. It has to do with the fact that Church has become almost unable to produce respectable priests, and produces instead unmanly social justice whinos no one would want to be identified with and whom no youth would take as a model.
Priests are often despised because they are often despicable. When the average quality improves the respect and reputation will grow, too.
It has been rightly said that new ideas do not prevail because people are persuaded by them, but rather because the people who believed in the old ideas slowly die and are replaced by people raised with the new ideas.
We see examples of this everywhere, from the long process of “denazification” in Germany (which actually worked with the future generations much better than with those who had lived Nazism and had approved of Hitler) to the great damage inflicted to Catholic orthodoxy by a generation and a half of priests and laymen raised with common places and populist rubbish.
If this is true, then the consequences of it are rather banal: the work of rebuilding Catholic identity must start now, and how many Sixty-Eighters will jump on the train is not really relevant. If, for example, the Vatican were to announce the replacement of the Novus Ordo with the Traditional Mass (a feat which, if truly wanted, could be accomplished in a handful of years) the impact on old potheads would be probably small, but the impact this would have on growing generations and on an awful lot of now non-instructed adults would be significant.
This sound long-term thinking seems not to be the specialty of many priests, who prefer to pander to the lies and fantasies of their awfully instructed and worse disposed grey-haired pewsitters rather than to start injecting some sense into the head of at least the young. The very fact that a priest who denies confirmation to a young heathen should make headlines is an impressive testimony of where things are now.
The bishops should, of course, be the biggest part of the solution; alas, they are the biggest part of the problem: mainly Sixty-Eighters with no faith, no spine and no decency, they are appointed by Popes not much better than they (how do I know that? Because said Pope have appointed the bishops; by their deeds you’ll recognise them…) and they will simply not be the one who defend Catholicism, because they are the one who raped it. To them the same rule apply as to the other: they will largely die as faithless as they have lived, and may God forgive them the incalculable loss of souls they have aided and abetted.
Still, it seems to me – though I am the first to admit I suffer an almost pathological form of optimism – that a new generation of priests is slowly occupying the pulpits, and in time a new generation of bishops will flourish out of them. The old V II generation will soon go to their (doubtful) reward, and from them decent Cardinals and Popes might result. I think I have at least anecdotical evidence to show that a new blood is starting to flow through the Church’s veins, and in time it will not fail to bring the much-needed Catholic oxygen to the pews.
It will be a long work; it might be some time before renewal starts in earnest, meaning: with that assertiveness the secular world calls “aggressive”; we might, I fear, have to cope with indecisive, weak, or outright delusional Popes for a while, as the evil of Vatican II is evidently still running almost undisturbed within the corridors of the Vatican; but the signs are multiplying that those born today might get a much better instruction at their disposal than those born one generation. The problem is, those who might get a better instruction will be a lot less than those who would have get any form of instruction just two generations ago, so we have the situation of a smaller troop of more motivated people, instead of the bigger troop of indifferent ones.
I still think it will be an improvement: small professional armies have always worked much better than big drafted ones. In this, Lenin was probably right: a small minority of truly determined people can achieve much, and punch vastly above their weight.
I think we’ll be there one day. Let us pray for good priests and, in time, bishops.
Beautiful intervention of Father Z a propos the priest who has been asked to recant his support for so-called ordination of women or be dismissed from the seminary of Maryknoll.
Father Z’s comments are beautiful and most certainly worth the reading.
I feel the need, though, to add some short considerations of mine:
1) How en earth can it happen that a priest supports so-called women ordination for what have obviously been many years before he is asked to recant or face consequences.
2) How on earth can it happen that a priest supports so-called women ordination and he is still a priest.
3) How on earth can it happen that seminary goes from 300 to 10 seminarians without anyone thinking that in order to do so, they must have made serious mistakes.
4) How on earth can it happen that a seminary with 10 seminarians is allowed to stay open and employ an array of teachers, administrative personnel and the obvious costs of the structure.
This sad piece of news is disconcerting in more ways than one.
Sooner or later it had to happen. Whilst it is obvious to everyone that most blogging priests are (as it is expected by them, besides being an excellent character trait) extremely prudent in their public utterances and attentive not to let disagreement between them sink to a level unworthy of their habit, it was only a matter of time before some serious clash would erupt in the Catholic blogosphere.
In this instance, the episode seems to go a while back and has as protagonists a lofty Monsignor with a tendency to reinvent Catholicism and a passionate, but rather emotional retired priest loved by everyone. When, therefore, the lofty Monsignor (most probably not influenced, I hasten to add, by the liquor so famous in his part) wrote a rather extraordinary theory about Our Lord not being physically present after the Resurrection (to refute which it is enough to read a Gospel; alas, Monsignori are not anymore what they used to be), the emotional priest, full of righteous anger, reacted in a way which the very sensitive Lofty Monsignor considered libellous. A longish controversy apparently ensued, at the end of which the good priest announced the intention to close his blog.
Now, I am not a priest but I know something about being emotional; for this reason I’ll allow myself a couple of considerations.
1) It is utterly contemptible that a religious – besides reinventing Catholicism in the most extraordinary way, but I suppose this comes with the progressive credentials – should stoop so low as to engage in a longish, bitter controversy with another religious over the use of such adjectives like “lofty”. I can think of one or three adjectives which would be far less pleasing for the Monsignor to hear, vastly more appropriate, and certainly not actionable. If this becomes a fashion, the use of the internet from brave priests as a showcase for orthodoxy might be stopped from above, which would be a big disgrace.
2) I may be cynical here, but unless the man is in serious need of professional help I can easily imagine that this controversy has been brought about for so long precisely in order to discredit conservative Catholic blogs written by Catholic priests , or at least with this consequence seen as a pleasant side effect of the controversy. Even in the land who gave us whiskey one must be aware of the fact that his own reputation will suffer most atrociously and in all eternity, as google has the memory of an elephant. But I might be wrong here, and the professional help what is truly needed.
3) Without being a lawyer by trade, I can’t conceive that adjectives like “lofty” can really constitute an actionable offence. Were this the case, no single blog a’ la “Homo Smoke” would be functioning, no single expression like “homo smoke” were ever used on the Internet and the turnover of the Internet libel lawsuit industry would greatly exceed the one of the global armaments. This is simply not the case. Look at how journalists berate and belittle each other every day on press and internet and draw your conclusions.
These are professionals, mind, certainly better trained than a retired priest in the subtle matter of libel laws; and still they shoot at each other with the pump gun day in and day out.
4) Having said that, I can’t say that I approve the decision to close one’s blog because some chap in some very cold and windy place starts threatening one with absurd lawsuits. Such a behaviour smells, if I may say so in the kindest of ways of a certainly very kind man, of passive-aggressiveness. “Look what the brute has done to me, an old man” is the message. We are all humans of course, but in my eyes the first thing (the inordinate, ridiculous reaction of a man who can’t even read the Gospel) has nothing to do with the second (the decision to close the blog).
Whatever lawsuit might be initiated (and it would be the grandest waste of money and reputation, if you ask me), the decision to close the blog wouldn’t have any influence on it. The closure of the blog can only be seen as an aggressive act toward a person thus indicated as the responsible for the closure. But this is just not true. Whatever the faults of the man (“Fawlty” he has also been called, I wonder whether this is actionable?), he is most certainly not responsible for the blog closure.
Summa summarum, I’d be very pleased if this episode would teach the Catholic Times that if you carry the name “Catholic” you should have contributors who can read the Gospel and know the most elementary facts about Jesus; and I truly wish that the good old priest will, perhaps in time, realise that by closing the blog he has made the impression of the one who goes away with the football. This can’t be good and can’t be right.