John L. Allen Jr. picked up a couple interesting tidbits about clergy vocations from the Synod of Evangelization going on in
1. Draining foreign countries of priests to staff priest-empty parishes in the
is unjust. USA
2. A Byzantine Archbishop said he has too many priests and no place to send them – because they’re married. Though that is accepted by
for the , there are stringent
restrictions on ministry where celibate priests are the norm. Byzantine
In Allen’s own text:
(Cardinal) Pengo (of Tanzania) noted that Africa today is dispatching priests to the West, just as Western missionaries once came to them. That's a good thing, Pengo said, but it also carries at least two risks:
§ Priests going abroad may be "seeking in the first place material gain before genuine evangelization, to the detriment of the church on either side."
§ The West may be fueling a damaging brain drain at the expense of the developing world. "The church in
Africa is deprived of its best qualified
evangelizers, while the materially rich Western church receives
evangelizers," Pengo said.
At some stage, Pengo appeared to be suggesting, Western Catholics might have to ask if their growing reliance on imported priests is actually an injustice.
Although a synod of bishops is hardly "Evening at the Improv," the priest shortage also occasioned an unintentional moment of comic relief Thursday. It came as Byzantine Archbishop Ján Babjak of
"We are able to thank God for the abundance of priestly vocations," Babjak said. "In the service of 250,000 faithful we have more than 450 priests and approximately 90 seminarians in the seminary."
In fact, Babjak said, they're actually turning guys away: "We cannot accept any more in the seminary because we have no more places to send them to carry out their priestly service," he said. (In part, that's because Eastern priests are often married, so there are restrictions on where they can serve outside their own tradition.