Monday, December 29, 2014

Married Catholic Priest Replaces Priest Leaving the Catholic Church to get Married

Talk about a head-scratcher. I wonder if anyone in the Vatican recognizes the absurdity of all this?

Another case of a priest leaving to get married, being replaced by a married priest – in this case, a former Anglican priest who with his wife and family, entered the Catholic Church. There were several cases of this in England when the Anglican Church started ordaining women. Full details can be found in the Tablet article at… 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Priest shortage here... and everywhere?

Chicago’s Cardinal George ordained a dozen priests on May 17th – one of the largest ordination classes in the US this year. However, that is a far cry from the 30 to 40 that were ordained annually a few decades ago. And they can scarcely replace the 31 Chicago priests that died in 2013. The continued decline of traditional clergy was reiterated in the recent newspaper article in Florida. Perhaps a new kind of priesthood is needed.

U.S. Catholics face shortage of priests

 Dave Breitenstein, The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press7:06 a.m. EDT May 25, 2014

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Nationally, one in five Catholic parishes does not have a resident priest.
America's Catholic population is rising by 1 percent annually, but seminary enrollment is flat. An inadequate supply of priests already has forced hundreds of parishes to close or consolidate.
Priests aren't getting any younger, either. Their average age is 63.
Something's got to give.
"These people have served the church for 30, 40 or 50 years, and now they are retiring or dying and leaving the priesthood," said Mary Gautier, senior research associate with Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.
In the Diocese of Venice, Fla., though, Bishop Frank Dewane is sitting comfortably for the 59 parishes from Bradenton to Marco Island. Dewane has 111 diocesan priests under his authority, along with 60 priests supplied by religious orders. Additionally, between 10 and 70 outside priests, who often are retirees from parishes up North, assist the diocese on a seasonal or part-time basis.
Dewane's focus isn't covering next Sunday's Mass; he is charged with building the next generation of religious leaders.
"We're blessed right now, but we always have to look at where are we in, say, 25 years or 50 years out," Dewane said.
In 1975, there were 58,909 priests in the United States. Today, Georgetown's CARA puts the figure at 39,600, a 33 percent drop. Meanwhile, America's Catholic population rose from 54.5 million to 78.2 million, a 43 percent increase, during the same period.
Although the 39,600 priests seems plenty for America's 17,413 parishes, it's not. Presiding over Mass is just one of a priest's duties, along with hearing confessions, baptizing babies, officiating weddings, counseling parishioners, conducting funerals, teaching schoolchildren, blessing hospital patients, running missions and more. On Easter and Christmas, some parishes in Southwest Florida have a half-dozen or more Masses, often simultaneously on church campuses, to accommodate residents, tourists and seasonal residents.
"I don't know of any bishop who believes he has too many priests," said the Rev. John Guthrie, associate director for the secretariat of clergy, consecrated life and vocations with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Nationally, Guthrie said, the ratio of priests to parishioners in 1950 was 1 to 652, but that climbed to 1 to 1,653 by 2010. That doesn't account for the millions of Catholics who are not registered with a parish or regularly attend services.
"There are fewer of us doing more and more work," Guthrie said.
When schoolteachers are sick or on vacation, a principal finds substitute teachers. The same holds true for a church when priests are needed.
A long-term vacancy at school, however, poses more serious problems: Who will teach students, and will their education suffer because of instability and inconsistency? The same questions arise for a parish without a resident priest: Who will provide spiritual guidance and manage the parish? In some cases, the answer is no one.
"There are places where they only hold Mass once a month because that's the only time you can get a priest," Gautier said.
The recent sex abuse scandals certainly had an impact on the priesthood, damaging the reputation of priests and possibly keeping some men from considering the priesthood.
"Did the scandals hurt? Yes they did," said the Rev. Cory Mayer, vocations director for the Diocese of Venice and parish administrator at Ave Maria. "There were victims, and justice needs to be served. But the good young men see the scandal wasn't part of the church or its teachings."
The Rev. Rafal Ligenza, parochial vicar at St. William Parish in Naples, was raised in Poland, the homeland of Pope John Paul II. Consequently, priests are among the most-respected professions for Polish boys deciding what to do with their lives.
"Here, it's being a doctor," said Ligenza, 32. "There, it was being a priest."
Mayer counsels youth and adults who are contemplating possible roles within the church. The first and most important trait he seeks is a deep love for God. Beyond that, a potential priest must be willing to give himself to Christ, realize he will forever serve the church and be humble.
"The worst thing we can have is an arrogant priest," Mayer said.
Beyond established religions with large, permanent church buildings are a growing number of unofficial or unsanctioned religious gatherings in parks, strip malls, beaches and schools.
Deborah Rose-Milavec, executive director of Ohio-based FutureChurch, said people still want to pray and religious leaders still want to lead a congregation, but the Vatican has steadfastly remained traditional and expressed no interest in allowing married or female priests.
"Church is happening, and it will continue to happen," Rose-Milavec said. "The big question is how will the official church respond."
FutureChurch's position is that the Vatican should consider married men and all women for leadership positions, including ordination.
"They could be brought into roles where they aren't just making coffee, but making decisions," Rose-Milavec said of women.
Pope Francis is at least willing to listen. In October, an advisory board of bishops will gather in Rome for a summit titled "The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization." There, Catholic leaders could discuss the issues of marriage and women's roles within the Church, although change is not considered imminent.
Fort Myers resident Gerry Mater, 74, said he's not opposed to the Vatican opening the priesthood to a larger group.
"It's the work of the Holy Spirit that will decide that for us," he said.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pope warns of future Roman Catholic priests becoming ‘little monsters’

Making headlines again with some frank talk, a couple months ago Pope Francis took on the clericalism of some priests who are more concerned with their careers then serving people. This was not just about clergy with aspirations to Vatican posts or episcopal positions, but also parish priests set on becoming kings of their own parish fiefdoms.
Though widely reported, this is an article from the New York Daily News.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has said men studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood should be properly trained or the Church could risk "creating little monsters" more concerned with their careers than serving people.

In comments made in November but only published on Friday, Francis also said priests should leave their comfort zone and get out among people on the margins of society, otherwise they may turn into "abstract ideologists".

The Italian Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica published an exclusive text of the comments, made in a three-hour, closed-door meeting the Argentinian-born pontiff had in late November with heads of orders of priests from around the world.

"Formation (of future priests) is a work of art, not a police action. We must form their hearts. Otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mould the people of God. This really gives me goose bumps," he said.

Since his election in 2013 as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, Francis has been prodding priests, nuns and bishops to think less about their careers in the Church and to listen more to the needs of ordinary Catholics, especially the poor.

Taking over an institution reeling from child sex abuse, financial and other scandals and losing members to other religions, Francis has tried to refocus on the basic Christian teachings of compassion, simplicity and humility.

His conversation with the members of the Union of Superiors General is important because they will transmit his wishes directly to priests in their religious orders around the world.

Francis said men should not enter the priesthood to seek a comfortable life or to rise up the clerical career ladder. 

"The ghost to fight against is the image of religious life understood as an escape or hiding place in face of an 'external' difficult and complex world," he told them.

He made a brief, indirect reference to the sexual abuse crisis, saying a man who has been asked to leave one seminary should not be admitted to another easily.

Francis said priests had to have "real contact with the poor" and other marginalized members of society.

"This is really very important to me: the need to become acquainted with reality by experience, to spend time walking on the periphery in order really to become acquainted with the reality and life-experiences of people," he told them.

"If this does not happen we then run the risk of being abstract ideologists or fundamentalists, which is not healthy."

The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics has set a new tone in the Vatican, rejecting the lush papal residence his predecessors used and opting for a small suite in a Vatican guest house, where he eats in the common dining hall.

Civilta Cattolica is the same periodical that ran a landmark interview with Francis in September in which he said the Church must shake off an obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality and become more merciful.

Francis, known as the "slum bishop" in Argentina because of his work among the poor, said reaching out to marginalized people was "the most concrete way of imitating Jesus".
His own first visits after moving to the Vatican were to a jail for juveniles and to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa to pay tribute to impoverished immigrants who have died trying to get to Europe.

Francis has said several times since his election that he feels the Vatican is too self-centered and needs to change.

A committee of eight cardinals from around the world that he has appointed to advise him on how to reform the central Vatican administration, know as the Curia, is due to submit its recommendation.