Monday, May 4, 2009

The Paradox of Vatican II

I've been struck by a comment left by a priest in response to John Allen's latest article on the NCR. The commenter is reflecting on a statement made by Cardinal Mahoney concerning one of the problems the Cardinal sees with in the current church--that of the generational divide with in the priesthood:

"the article points out to two things I experience. The divide between the clergy is apparent. I went to a evening of discernment where there usually have a younger priest and an older one. When asked the question, Why did I want to be a priest, I mentioned the wonderful and selfless service that I witnessed with the religious in my life. My priests, teachers, and I saw how happy they were. When the younger priest responded he said that he experienced a call praying in the presence of the blessed sacrament. No where in his 20 minute answer did the word service ever come up. So much for the ministerial priesthood."

I've noticed this generational divide as well. The seminaries which are flourishing are cranking out what I call 'sacramental' rather than ministerial priests. Sacramental priests have a very different mindset from a ministerial priest and consequently very different views of the Church and it's mission in the world.

I think one of the problems the framers of Vatican II failed to discern is that they were creating a vision for the Church which was in no way, shape, or form, supported by the psychology of the clerical priesthood or the institutional structure. In fact, the whole notion of Vatican II really consisted of a group of bishops and theologians proposing a theology and psychology from which the council itself did not act. In other words they were proposing a more bottom up theology and psychology but doing it from a seriously top down authority structure, which at the highest levels also believed it was infallible.

They were proposing more freedom and choice--maturity-- for the laity, while enacting those decrees with virtually no input from the laity or the clergy who would have to bring them to fruition. They were talking things they themselves weren't walking, and in many cases had no experience of walking. Vatican II was offered to the Church out of an institutional vacuum on how just to enact or model Vatican II. No wonder it all got so confusing.

In retrospect, the issuance of Humanae Vitae brought this entire paradox to the surface. Paul VI demonstrated in spades that the institution could talk the talk, but had no intention, nor any idea of how to authentically walk the walk. The trend since Humanae Vitae seems to be to rework the interpretation of the documents of Vatican II in such a way that they support the exact clerical theology and psychology they were meant to transcend. Hence we have the 'reform of the reform' and young priests who see themselves as sacramental celebrants rather than ministers to fellow pilgrims.

I can't see how the institutional church can reconcile itself with the psychology and view of humanity of Vatican II without reworking the entire notion of priesthood and church governance. The option they seem to be following is to let the Church reduce itself in numbers until a vastly shrinking laity fits the number of vastly shrinking priests. They seem utterly incapable of entertaining the notion that the Holy Spirit's answer to the call for vocations to the current form of priesthood is a resounding "NO". I can understand that on one level. Accepting that answer would in essence be accepting the rejection of one's own calling. In reality though, it's really accepting rejection of one's interpretation of one's vocation and that is a different concept.

In the meantime, the paradox of Vatican II is being played out in political divisiveness. The more traditional camp siding with the authoritative clerical priesthood and the more liberal type searching for meaning outside that authority. I have no doubt that at Vatican II the Spirit was moving things in the proper direction for the evolution of mankind. I also have no doubt that the very people who were inspired to write these documents were incapable of discerning those notions also applied to them. In some respects Benedict really is the perfect Vatican II Pope. Brilliantly able to teach the concepts while oblivious to the fact he doesn't have the personal psychology to govern from them.

Unfortunately for the American church the real divisions have come from episcopal appointees who not only can't walk the walk, they can't talk the talk. Too many of them are Canon lawyers. That mindset has mired us in legal definitions of abortion and traditional marriage, rather than pastoral solutions that deal with the human person. It is however, a nice strategy for enhancing their own canonically derived authority with in their own dioceses. It is a real sign of the current times when so many of them use Canon Law to support their authority rather than rely on their pastoral ability. That this mentality filters down to their seminarians is hardly surprising.

Until some really inspired brilliant person can convince the ecclesial structure that they really can govern the Church inspired by the psychology and theology of Vatican II, the church will continue to fracture. It is completely inauthentic to teach from one world view while governing from it's opposite. The exodus from the pews, coupled with all the fear based legal rhetoric shows the depth of this truth. So does the lack of priestly vocations. So does the propensity for Catholics to fracture a long political lines rather than unite around a shared belief in Jesus. None of this will change until the smoke screen of the 'reform of the reform' includes the completely unreformed ecclesiastical and clerical structures.


  1. This kind of article, which shows up every once in a while, is depressing. Having spent five years in a seminary, even I, an "insider," can't classify seminarians or young priests as one or the other. There are good and bad, right and left, big and small, and everything in-between. To continually try and draw these conclusions (sacramental vs. ministerial) is not helpful and, more to the point, not factual. In four years in a major seminary, I never met one "researcher." Nor did I ever meet a person at all who knew us and was familiar with us enough to make this kind of
    "one or the other" distinction. Priest are human beings. Seminarians are human beings. They are complex and cannot fit into one category or another. An article like this, however, stokes coals of divisiveness. There are excellent "traditional" priests and there are excellent "progressive" priests. And, surprise, there are bad ones too! Look at the real experience of parishioners and you will find good and bad experiences from all kinds of priests. To try and make this all fit into a two-column categorization is wrong and promotes stereotypes. Why do we want to further promote stereotypes? For all the pressing issues in the Church and world, how does this help?

  2. I tend to agree with the writer of this blog. About a year ago a friend of mine who is a priest in a large archdiocese and in his early sixties related this to me: “The young priests today are told to distrust priests in their fifties, sixties, and seventies.” Enough said!

  3. Makes a lot of sense Colleen and the "Vatican II really consisted of a group of bishops and theologians proposing a theology and psychology from which the council itself did not act. In other words they were proposing a more bottom up theology and psychology but doing it from a seriously top down authority structure, which at the highest levels also believed it was infallible."

    It says that they believe in their power and authority and that they can hold their laws like the Pharisees against us if they wish. It also says that we are to have a relationship with God, but not really, because they wind up denying it with their authority over us. It is a control mechanism and consists of holding onto power which only truly belongs to Jesus Christ. I use the term Pharisaic as a truth, not to belittle or condemn.

    I don't know if they actually truly "believed it was infallible." I believe they did not want to let go of that concept of control over others with their authority and rule and THAT it is the real problem for the divide and schizophrenia theologically in the Church. The concept of infallibility was a conjured up notion to begin with and it is not supported by the Gospels.

    Last night I was continuing a read "the Six Miracles of Calvary" by William Rufus Nicholson (1822-1901) a pastor, church leader, and seminary dean. It's a very informative little book with some details and symbols that I was not aware. I think it is important and relevant to the problem in the Church now, so I am typing up some of its text.

    The first miracle was the complete darkness starting at high noon. From 12 noon to 3 pm the sky was darkened. At exactly 3 o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice and he died. That is the exact moment when the 2nd miracle took place and the Temple Curtain ripped in two.

    What was the Temple Curtain? "The curtain of the Temple was a covering designed to conceal what lay behind it, namely Holy of Holies, or the Most Holy Place." "We must go back to the tabernacle to learn the purpose of the curtain in the first place."

    "The tabernacle had three divisions in it - the outer court, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. Every Jew in Israel could assemble in the outer court. Only the priest were allowed to enter the Holy Place, where they would fulfill the daily tasks and ministries demanded of their positions. Yet the only one allowed to enter the Holy of Holies was the high priest, and he could enter it only once a year, with the blood of atonement and the smoke of incense."

    "In the outer court of the Temple stood the bronze altar (Exodus 27:1-4) and bronze basin (Exodus 38:8). These were in the sight of the people and stood as symbols of what was needed to draw close to God. They reminded worshipers that they could not approach God without the ministry of the altar of blood sacrifice, and through that blood be cleansed as in a basin. Inside the Holy Place, in the sight of the priests who had just come from the bloody altar and the cleansing basin, were the bread of the Presence (Exodus 25:30), the golden lampstand (Exodus 25:31-40), and the golden altar of incense (Exodus 30:1-6) - symbols of union and fellowship with God.

    "In the Most Holy Place (Leviticus 16:2), only to be witnessed by the high priest, were the ark of the covenant (Exodus 37:1), its golden cover-the atonement seat (Exodus 25-17), the cherubim (Exodus 25:18-22), and the shekinah-the cloud of Glory. These were symbols of the throne of God's presence, power, and grace.

    "In this way, God communicated through the tabernacle's symbolism of sacrifice and cleansing the answer to how a sinner could worship Him acceptably.

    "Yet, the tabernacle also included symbols that represented the barriers to that same worship. During the ministry of the tabernacle, the approach to God was imperfect, for there were curtains in the tabernacle. Those in the outer court were blocked from the Holy Place by means of the first curtain; while the priests in the Holy Place were blocked from the Most High Place by the second curtain. The purpose of each curtain was the same: it existed to conceal what lay behind it and to prevent any further passage beyond its boundaries.

    "By virtue of the bronze altar and cleansing basin, those in the outer court might enter to a certain point, but only the priests might pass the first curtain and come near to the symbols of fellowship with God. Only the one High Priest could go behind the second curtain and come near the even greater symbols of fellowship with God.

    "Of the two curtains, symbolizing barriers to entering into the presence of God, the second curtain was the more significant. For behind that curtain was symbolized within the Most Holy Place the culmination of the reality and blessedness of intimate communion with God. So ultimately, the Most Holy Place was where all the symbolism and ritual of temple worship, from the entrance in the gates of the outer court, to the entrance of the High Priest into the Most Holy Place, was directed.

    "This second curtain, which powerfully expressed the barrier to worship with God and which concealed the glory of God's very presence, is the one referred to here in our text.

    The Second Curtain Described - The curtain was made of a curiously designed fabric. Upon the base of "finely twisted linen" (Exodus 26:31) were displayed the colors of blue, purple, and crimson. With the purle between the blue and crimson, beautiful cherubim were created in the pattern. Its visual effect prompted thoughts of life and power, while at the same time exhibiting both beauty and glory. It hung by hooks of gold susended from four overlaid gold pillars. The Bible calls it the work of "skilled craftsmen" (Exodus 26:31). Yet it was the skill of God, who shoed them the example from "the pattern I will show you" (Exodus 25:9). It was copied from "the pattern the Lord had shown Moses" (Number 8:4)

    "How impressive ths sight must have been in the glow of the seven lights of the golden lampstand! How it must have filled the viewer with awe as it hung before them, concealing the greater glory which lay behind it. Through the picture of the embroidered cherubim, powerfully watching and guarding quietly, communicating clearly, "You may go this far, but no further." We can imagine the reverent whisperings of the priests in the Holy Place.

    "But now the curtain had gone out of existence. It had been torn in half. Suddenly and dramatically, its purpose is ended. While it still hung in place, you could now see through and beyond it. As a curtain it was useless. All at once, strangely, the concealment has ceased.

    "The curtain fell in pieces in its own place before the Holy of Holies, as if it had resigned its office. No human act had caused its demise, nor had anything else from the porch of the temple to the Most Holy Place been moved or damaged throughout the entire magnficent building.

    "It was not through the natural process of decay that the threads of the curtain tore, because it fell not in shreds but into two whole pieces. It did not have a tear here and a gash there. It was torn in two, in precisely two pieces. As another gospel writer says, it was torn "in two" (Luke 23:45)-that is, in two equal pieces; thus its opening revealed the very center of what it had been created to conceal.

    "It was torn from the top to the bottom in a straight line downward and completely through. It was not ripped apart from some vandal below, but cleanly cut by an invisible hand from above. This statement clearly implies supernatural intervention, indicating that anyone who saw it would recognize it as such.

    "But what is even more remarkable was that the tearing of the curtain was an amazing coincidence. When did the tear occur? It occurred precisely when Jesus Christ died on the cross-at the very moment! That was the precise moment the curtain of concealment had been waiting for; the moment for which through all the ages it had continued to exist in defiance of the ravages of time and violence The very moment! It was as though an inner intelligent clock had kept watch within it and when it heard the final stroke, the final cry of Christ, it knew its time and purpose had come to an end.

    "It is noteworthy to remember that it was torn immediately after the loud cry of the crucified Christ. There were, in actuality, two loud cries from the cross. The first came just before the darkness had ended; the second came after the darkness had passed. The first cry was an agonizing wail of abandonment; the second was a shout of joy. The first cry was crushed out of Him by an intolerably agony of which the dreaded darkness was a sign; the second cry was the thrusting forth of His feelings of fulfillment and deliverance in being restored to communion with His Father.The first cry shouted, "My God. My God, why have you forsaken Me" (Matthew 27:46). The second cry was a shout that said nothing, but followed His last words, "It is finished" (John 19:30).

    "His work was finished. He had borne our sins. His burden was gone. So this second loud cry from the cross was the Conqueror's roar of victory. In the same way that a weary man at the end of a long day reflects pleasantly upon the success of the day, relaxing with gratifying visions for the next day, so with an intensely human joy, before falling asleep, the suffering Savior gave forth that final shout. His triumphal purpose was accomplished.

    "The roar of victory coincided with the tearing of the curtain. As the Savior finished His work, as His note of triumph rose high and clear from His dying lips, then the concealment of the Holy of Holies came to an end. The curtain was cut as if by the blade of a skilled artisan, passing swiftly down the curtain, ending the concealment forever. It was a sign of what had been accomplished.

    "The specific time it occured was one of its most compelling features. Jesus Christ died at three o'clock in the afternoon. This was precisely the time the evening sacrifice would begin, requiring the presence of the priests in the Holy Place, in front of this very curtain. They would be fully engaged in their priestly duties. Yes, God meant it to be seen and reflected upon.

    "Truly God meant for us to learn from this powerful event. The effect it should have on us can be deduced from the sacredness of the veil that so completely controlled the conduct of the priests. For fifteen hundred years, as greatly as the people of God had sinned, there was one sin they had never committed-they had never violated the secrecy of the curtain. Therefore, when the curtain was torn in two, the impression upon those who witnessed it must have been strange and confusing. The impact upon the priests must have been tremendous, and the inevitable reports of this incredible event must have stirred the community with excitement.

    "To prove the powerful effect this event had upon the priesthood, one only needs to see that as soon as the gospel was preached, "a large number of priests became obedient to the faith" )Acts 6:7).

    "And forever the Scriptures will declare to us, "Behold," look carefully at this sight, this visual lesson from God, for in the tearing of the curtain we find the very gospel symbolized.

    "The way our dying Savior's victory was demonstrated in the tearing of the curtain reveals the consequences to the temple where it had hung. The changes that occurred were, by analogy, a result of the Crucified's victory.

    "So when the curtain, the sign of the separation sin had created between man and God was removed, it signified that the sin which had created the need for the curtain had also been removed. What had been sumbolically accomplished in the tearing of the curtain had been practically accomplished in Jesus Christ. This was the victory behind His death. He who had never sinned had gone to war for us against our sin and conquered it. He, the innocent divine Sufferer, gave the required suffering for sin in His own person.

    "And so, the High Priest was removed from his office by God Himself, through that shout of triumph from the cross that tore open the curtain. Now the Crucified Himself, the real High Priest, would carry His own blood, once for all, not into the symbolic presence of God but into His real presence in the heaven of heavens. There He dwells in the eternal power of an endless life, offering His own righteousness to any sinners who would place their faith in His blood and sacrifice for their sins.

    "In this way He has settled forever the problem and obstruction of the sin which barred man's intimate fellowship with God. No further obstructions remain for those who would draw near to Him through faith in Christ."

    "As a result, the way is now open for man to approach God. By faith, in spiritual worship, we have "confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body (Hebrews 10:19-20).

    "In a way, the torn curtain exemplified the torn humanity of Christ when He died on the cross. In the fine linen of the curtain we can see typified the righteousness of His human nature. The hooks of gold that suspended the curtain represent His divine nature, the dependence of His humanity upon His deity. In the heavenly blue and earthly crimson, and the blending of the two together into the purpose between them, we see heaven and earth blended together in His human life in a beautiful and rich tapestry. In the cherubim, which all the colors skillfully create together, we see the supernatural purpose of His life in human history.

    "The humanity of Jesus was indeed the skillful work of God. Its design was so amazing that it was hidden from us, concealed behind a curtain of flesh. God displayed the perfect man in His Son, the only kind of man whom God would permit to approach Him. His perfection, if considered merely on its own, would have destroyed our hopes of approaching God. His becoming flesh would have been of little use to us without His sacrificial death on our behalf. The curtain of His flesh had to be torn.

    "His humanity was completely and thoroughly torn-torn "from the top." It was God who struck Him, tearing Him "to the bottom" causing Him to be sorrowful even unto death. He was torn so completely that through His perfect sacrifice, we sinners might come immediately into the presence of God. We can now look by faith directly into heaven. We can now look at Him with our faces unveiled, and though His glory is strong and powerful, gently His lovely glory descends upon us.

    "There is nothing hidden from us, no anger held in reserve for us, no blazing wrath of God for us, even though well deserved. The words "Abba Father" were never spoken to the Father by the lips of man until Jesus taught us to do so. But now the chld of God can find his own way into His Father's loving embrace, and embrace Him back."

  4. As the priest homilist at our church said last Sunday, "Some people think we should be kind to those who are in error, but we believe it is more important to help you obtain eternal salvation."- 5 years ordained
    How ChristLike!

  5. Last Sunday (Good Shepherd Sunday)in his homily, a local monsignor blamed the lack of good Catholic family life for the decrease of priestly vocations. He also blamed women religious for their diminishing numbers - he said they brought it upon themselves.

    For the vacuum of leadership in the American church and the institutionally-sanctioned betrayal of trust, he had no words.

  6. I have to disagree with fr. p. As someone who has taught in a number of different seminaries over the past 30 years, the analysis is only too true. Sacramental v. ministerial is certainly one way of categorizing the ways in which men are called to priesthood.

    The depressing thing is that the traditionalist priests we are now seeing dividing our parishes are generally towards the sacramental end of the spectrum. It would be possible to weed them out during their formation, but the shortage of priests pushes seminary rectors (who tend to measure success in terms of numbers rather than quality of men ordained) towards hoping that the grace of orders will do the trick. Sometimes it does, but often it doesn't. In my own view, we don't need priests that badly.

  7. Fr. P:

    Everything you said about the clergy, also applies to the laity, hence one of the major sources of division within the church, the mindset of forcing the laity, all of them into a single mold. The very thing you speak out about, is the very thing that the church is attempting to do to the laity as a whole.

    Hence, I am no longer in the church having been told by a bishop "you dont want to follow OUR rules or do what WE tell you to do (ie abortion is all that matters), therefore, you are not a true catholic, you dont belong here, you dont deserve to take communion here with the real catholics"

  8. fr. p,

    I agree with Carl's comment. It is true, the laity is being classified as one or the other. Just look at the comments on NCR coming back at progressives. It is utterly ridiculous and downright unchristian the mud slinging by fanatical fundamentalist in the Church towards fellow Catholics. They tell us to "just leave. We don't need you."

    The laity are human beings too. We are complex and cannot fit into one category or another. Look at Fr. Finn's address, rant, on NCR and see who is stoking the coals. Look at the good people who are being fired from their jobs in the Church because they have a different opinion. Look at Fr Roy who after 35 plus years as a dedicated priest is tossed out of the clergy for support of women.

    Divisiveness has been coming from above in not resolving theological disputes for over 30 years and it is now coming out with such venom against those classified as "liberals." The right wing fundamentalist fanatics who are single minded have totally lost all sense of grace. Our best defense seems to just leave.

    Give me a break.

    word is gracce - grace with two c's. What the Catholic Church needs more of. BTW - I left too because it is so divisive in the Catholic Church and because Canon Law and being a Republican, being anti-gay, is now more important than Jesus Christ.

  9. I hope no one minds that I posted excerpts. It really helped me to stay grounded in my faith to read of the miracles that God can perform for the People of God. He ended a priesthood that went on for 1,500 years. It appears He is ending the priesthood again.

    His love for us is in stark contrast to the divisiveness in the Church. I am so tired of comments on NCR from immature, and so blatantly brainwashed to hate people who are older and wiser than them. These young people are being taught to hate their elders, to judge, to condemn, to vilify, to demonize, to preach to older people who know a heck of a lot more than they probably ever will about the Jesus, the Bible, the Church, history, life, love, compassion. It is downright evil the way they act towards us. Downright evil and despicable. They are destroying the Catholic Church with their hatred.

  10. Butterfly, regarding Jesus' miracles, we keep coming back to John 14:12

    "Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these"

    We should be asking each time we read Jesus miracles:

    --- why do we not see them from the RCC leadership?
    --- why do we almost always see them in the RCC around Mary?
    --- what do we need to do in our personal lives to fulfill this scripture?
    --- what is preventing the fulfillment of this scripture?

    The answers are simple and obvious:

    With the leadership it is legalistic devotion to dogma, ritual and false doctrines such as "abortion is the only issue" that creates a barrier to the free flow of the Holy Spirit.

    The RCC Leadership has placed barriers between the laity and Christ, such as "the church is the only way to salvation" in order to prevent them from fulfilling this scripture.

    The fact that we do not see this scripture fulfilled more completely is a scathing indictment by Christ against the RCC leadership.

  11. fr.p, Perhaps you should make this point to Cardinal Mahoney as his comment about the generational divide is what prompted my reflection.

    There is some research out there on this apparent divide. One sociologist defined the two different variants as cultic vs servant leader. I think sacramental vs ministerial come closer to expressing the emphasis given to certain aspects of the priesthood.

    I wish the perception wan't out there, but the fact it is needs to be looked at as the Cardinal points out in his comment. If seminaries are pushing numbers rather than quality the Church could be in big trouble.

    I hate to play psychologist here, but the cultic or sacramental view of priesthood would most certainly appeal to narcissists and we've seen with groups like the Legionares and Miles Jesu the damage which can come from narcissists.

  12. I still think the source of all this is the lack of a contemplative both clergy and laity.

    It seems to me that dogma/ doctrine is only vaguely comprehensible when seen from a contemplative practice. Without a contemplative practice, dogma/ doctrine is completely incomprehensible no matter how sophisticated one becomes in logic, metaphysics, history of doctrine etc;

    A "sacramental" priest, without a contemplative practice, is just a sacramental ATM.

    A "ministerial" priest, without a contemplative practice, is just a social worker or psychologist or therapist.

    A laity that has not been taught how to contemplate just becomes a variety of religious consumer.

    A hiearchy that does not practice contemplation just becomes another administrative cast, no different from any other corporation, ( with laity as disgruntled shareholdres).

    Contemplation need not become an athletic activity nor an esoteric gnosticism. It's a fairly imple thing to do but its simplicity is what makes it difficult to practice.

  13. annonymous, your point about contemplation is well taken. And as you say it is a simple thing but very difficult to put into practice.

    One thing I've notice with comtemplative practice is that I've been forced to see certain things from very different view points. It's kind of like focusing a camera on the background rather than the foreground, or switching camera positions entirely.

    I agree completely that comtemplative practice enhances one's understanding and the depth of that understanding with regards to all things spiritual and religious. Thanks for the comment.

  14. Carl, I am in complete agreement with you. In a very real way, when I look at the curtain being ripped in two at the exact moment of Christ's death on the cross, it made me think of the Church and its many barriers it has since placed in the way from getting closer to God. It is as if they have constructed more barriers in defiance of God's will.

    Sacraments are being used more as barriers when anyone is denied Communion, yet we see this appearing increasingly in the desire and acts of Bishops.

    Canon Law too, is another barrier to weild power over the laity or priests who do not politcally toe a certain line.

    The barriers are preventing God's children from becoming healers like Christ.

    It is as if the Church is becoming one big barrier between God and His children.

    God does not prevent men and women from getting closer to Him. Yet the Church prevents them with dogma. This dogma that says only men, and only single men, can truly be priest and deacons is the same as denying that the miracle of the curtain in the Temple being ripped in two never took place. The Church excommunicates those called and those freely choosing to serve Him if they don't follow the letter of the law.

    The Church has become a corporate body. It is really no longer the Body of Christ when it does not serve Christ, and has apparently not the desire or focus to perform the miracles that Jesus promised.

    Now we witness the continuation of the spirit of inquisition. God is not pleased with this as Jesus was not pleased with the Pharisees.

    VI and VII are being ripped from the top to the bottom in a way that resembles that tearing of the Temple curtain? Our Church is being ripped in two from the top to the bottom in a way that reminds me so much of that Temple curtain. God is in the details somehow and He is still showing us something about that miracle that forced the priests who witnessed that tearing of the curtain, who witnessed VII as removing barriers to getting closer to God.

    Those who want to go back to the VI days are very much like the priests returning to old rituals, rather than removing the barriers between us and God. Such priests cannot perform miracles, but are meticulous in honoring rituals that veil the way to our healing.

    A new Church is being born from this realization and witness of the tearing in two of our Church which VI and VII symbolize.

  15. Correction - deacons can be married. But women are prevented.

  16. With the laity it is getting to the point where nearly everybody is a member of some "group" (Opus Dei, LC Regnum Christi, Miles, and many others). These groups are cults with global reach as we know. They are also very exclusive in their view of non-members.

    So where does that leave someone who is NOT a member of (insert name of group)?

    Answer: alone, isolated - even alienated by priest & people alike. That is one reason why the pews are emptying:

    We are being replaced by cult-parishioners.

  17. With the laity it is getting to the point where nearly everybody is a member of some "group" (Opus Dei, LC Regnum Christi, Miles, and many others). These groups are cults with global reach as we know. They are also very exclusive in their view of non-members.

    So where does that leave someone who is NOT a member of (insert name of group)?

    Answer: alone, isolated - even alienated by priest & people alike. That is one reason why the pews are emptying:

    We are being replaced by cult-parishioners.

  18. Annonymous the thing that scares me about this trend is that the actual numbers of these 'lay' apostalates do not reflect the actual numbers of Catholics. I think I figured out that they represent just short of 400,000 laity world wide and have slightly more than 2000 priests.

    That's not a significant portion when looking at 1.1 billion people. What they do have a very disproportionate amount of is financing and access in the Vatican, which gives their vision of Catholicism way too much power in the over all scheme of things.

    In my mind this is a very dangerous thing and may well turn out to be the lasting legacy of John Paul II. In his zeal to overturn communism he turned the church over to secretive groups, with a strong tendency towards fascism. I don't think it's any accident all these groups had their starts in Franco's Spain.

    Maybe this is why the one movie I've seen in the last three years and still can't get out of my head is Pan's Labyrinthe.

  19. Colleen - would suggest that you choose a different comparison that sacramental vs. ministerial. Your point is correct but would reframe and use the term "ritual" instead of sacramental.

    The church is the sacrament of Jesus Christ; ministerial focused priests, laity, etc. live and breath the sacramental life of the church.

    Ritual priests - ritual picks up on the observations of Jesus in the gospel stories - Jewish ritual that had lost all meaning. It also is a debate in the church - is the core belief that an ordained priesthood comes first; or does the eucharist and community come first. By continuing to merge/close parishes because you must have an ordained priest - you reinforce "ritual" over sacrament, community, eucharist.

    Just a thought.

  20. I agree with you annonymous. Ritual priesthood would have been much more accurate on a number of levels.

    Rest assured in the future, I will use ritual priesthood in place of sacramental.