Vincent's reply :
So your conclusion, OTSOTA, is that it does not matter if many priests and bishops are living a downright lie, if not actually indulging in a sinful lifestyle?And next week you will be advising us how to pin a jelly to the ceiling.
I was somewhat peeved...
Now how did you induce that from what I said ?
Incidentally you can pin a jelly to a ceiling with enough pins of good quality - the same way you can have an efficacious Church about the Lord's business with enough Prayer, Faith, Hope and Love.
We've just had a pretty poor crop in this recent off-season...
You equivocate living a lie with either 'dipping one's wick' or prefering 'parisiennes to parisiettes'...
Please wake up and realise that the crisis is infinitely worse than that - clerical celibacy , I concur, is an imperative ; but if you think this is the core crux of the clerical malaise you are very,very mistaken...most of our celibates are also the ones 'living a lie' ; pretending to be 'working' priests.
I am categorically NOT implying that the clergy should be allowed to be sexually profligate ; I'm not suggesting the time is right for married clergy - the priests have enough problems caring for their parish, let alone being responsible or mentally competent enough to cope with that plus a wife and family ;
and I am most definitely not excusing sexually active homosexual priests who think 'having it away' with other priests or having a bit of fun at some discreet distant locale with anonymous individuals is not detrimental to their Ministry.
I'm saying that among the majority of priests [who've never kissed a girl, boy or goat] their priesthood is deeply compromised by their simple lack of being efficacious, Holy, effective, responsible, believing, pastoral, praying priests !
This has led to a severe crisis where their abandonment of responsibility has led their flock to abandon them and the Church.
Some of the most capable, intelligent, loving priests out there do NOTHING!
...and why ? because they've been allowed to act in such a way; they've never had the example of how a parish should be run, they've had minimal pastoral training, virtually no authentic liturgical training, practically no training in how to preach, and when it comes to spiritual direction and how to lead a life of prayer and meditation ???
please don't make me laugh - most divine offices are only opened at a deanery meeting - there is a complete abandonment of responsibility, because surrounding them - birds,bees and educated fleas among the clergy DO NOTHING!
The majority of them 'work' from late saturday afternoon to midday sunday - say eight hours a week if we're charitable ? let's throw in a handful of 20 minute weekday masses, a few more administrative appointments,maybe a couple of social functions ?
a handful of visits to elderly or sick parishioners, maybe they are on the hospital rota for that week and perhaps have to administer a couple of sacraments of the sick ?
maybe a school mass if it's term time ?
Let me tell you this example is a damned sight busier week than most of our clerics would perform in a month !
Some of our beloved clergy out there have never missed an episode of neighbours, countdown or 'deal or no deal' in their lives !!
Some are of the mental disposition that rather than saying the divine office ; they have the daily ritual of sitting down to 'the weakest link' with coffee and a chocolate hobnob.
Do you think all this free time does them any good ? that they are more relaxed and capable and psychologically/spiritually composed to run their parish during times of pastoral crisis ?
Abject boredom, self-indulgent narcissism and overly selfish reflection results...
Rather than inspiring them to do more to fill these vast holes in their schedules they ultimately end up doing less...
I've stayed/lived in six presbyteries - and I've seen the results first hand, I've visited many more where the loneliness , despondency and inability of the priest to 'know what they are about' screams from the walls.
Some priests are in virtual solitary confinement for five out of the seven days a week ; yearning for the telephone to ring, their heart leaping when the letterbox rattles with post or the doorbell rings...
I'm sorry but this isolation and loneliness breeds emotional imbalance; more often than not occasioned with changes in behavioural patterns....the 'eccentricities and quirks' which are indicative of deep problems !
Sure we have dozens of priests who are nothing like that, nor ever could be subsumed into that mindframe, they are people who cope, irrespective of any dearth of pastoral or psychological training, they're survivors...
...but a lot of priests aren't.For the majority of them there are two options :
a] Put up with it and hope/pray it gets better; or grimly cling to the hope that you'll eventually be able to cope with this intense loneliness in a better way.
b] Change things - occupy myself - seek any solace anywhere I can.
The first type ultimately sink ; the second type may begin all idealistic and aspirational ; get up early, say the office, write a book on sprituality or NFP or the life of St Unknown of the remote...go jogging or swimming, learn to play bridge or swahili or car maintenance, start reading all those karl rahner's stacked up in the garage...buy a goldfish!
Some are lucky and it helps , some are even luckier and they do achieve a long-term hobby which assists them to come out of their shell and start performing their ministry in a better way
...for others ? well their lack of success or achievement in their ridiculous over-estimating of their capabilities; merely confirms to them their inadequacy and worthlessness in every aspect of their lives
...How many times do you think I've seen this ?
Then there's the priest who becomes utterly engrossed to the point of obsession with one aspect of their lives - it may be the diocesan liturgy or educational policy or a building project or being a prison/hospital chaplain - every other aspect of their faith [and their reason!] go out of the window with this new 'fad'
- for some it will last all their lives and give them some reason to go on ; for others more recklessly 'will-o-the-wisp' - like, they'll jump from one fad to another [and on occasions waste ridiculous amounts of diocesan/other people's time, money, energy and resources...]
When the priest feels useless or inadequate , or that anything/everything he is doing is utterly futile - that's when he reaches for the bottle, that's when he starts responding to the flirtations from female [and yes on occasion male] parishioners, that's when he starts vanishing from the presbytery for days on end
...thus begins the descent into his personal hell
....Priests are in trouble, and our dearly beloved bishops are doing 'bugger all' about it because their predecessors gave just as bad example as the priests did - abandoning the priests, being negligent to the point of grave matter...
you know I read the 21st chapter of John and it brings me to tears - because our contemporary apostles are not feeding Our lord's lambs , caring for His sheep.
I repeat, the only way anything can be done about it is a massive overhaul in the priestly training process - maybe even a secular version of the old intensively trained religious orders ? - the dominicans, jesuits or redemptorists [but the majority of these once glorious beacons of light for the faith have gone to pot in heterodoxy and acedia and their own selfish anti-catholic agendas].
You've seen the karate kid/rocky/nikita/[whatever inspirational film] montages where the individual is trained, and trained hard to be that which they aspire to be ?That's what seminaries should be like - not boarding schools with a bit of extra prayer and the odd group discussion...
Train priests !
And as for the priests we already have ?
The bishops should get down on their knees in penance and apology for the way they have abandoned them - then grab the priest by the scruff of the neck, chuck a bucket of ice water all over them, and throw them back into training to give the coping mechanisms and spiritual psychological pastoral training to go out there and perform the Lord's wonders in His name.
How many bishops can turn to their priests,
How many priests can turn to their parishioners
How many seminary rectors can turn to their students and authentically declare :
'I did not/do not leave you orphans, there are no strangers here' ?
You know I'm forever complaining about the dumbing down of catechesis - my kids only ever seemed to do the same four parables at school year in, year out...
But in our abject arrogance and lack of basic decency, let alone love, we've forgotten the message of even those parables...
Lord, who is my neighbour ?