Priests cannot be replaced by the laity, Pope Benedict explains
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 17, 2009 / 10:27 am (CNA).-
In an audience this morning with bishops visiting from Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI advised them on how to respond to the lack of priests, emphasizing that the shortage cannot be solved by having lay people substitute for the clergy. (It could if those lay people were made clergy.)
The Holy Father began his address to the Brazilian prelates by pointing out the difference between the identity of priests and the laity. While the lay faithful share in the "common priesthood," they are not ordained ministers of Christ and His Church. "Hence," the Pope cautioned, "it is important to avoid the secularization of clergy and the 'clericalization' of the laity."
Fulfilling the lay vocation, he explained, involves working to "give expression in real life - also through political commitment - to the Christian view of anthropology and the social doctrine of the Church."
On the other hand, "priests must distance themselves from politics in order to favor the unity and communion of all the faithful, thus becoming a point of reference for everyone," Benedict said.
When dioceses are faced with a lack of priests, the Pope emphasized that they should not resort to "a more active and abundant participation of the laity" since it could take away from their own calling. (Wow, what a sad, sad, statement.)
"The truth is that the greater the faithful's awareness of their own responsibilities within the Church, the clearer becomes the specific identity and inimitable role of the priest as pastor of the entire community, witness to the authenticity of the faith, and dispenser of the mysteries of salvation in the name of Christ the Head," Benedict XVI stated. (It would be far more accurate if the word 'responsibilities' was changed to liabilities, because that is what is implied in the rest of this statement.)
"The function of the clergy is essential and irreplaceable in announcing the Word and celebrating the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist," he insisted, saying that for this reason it is "vital to ask the Lord to send workers for His harvest; and it is necessary that priests express joy in their faithfulness to their identity." (Wow, so much for discussing any of Fr. McBrien's concerns or returning the Church to it's roots. Apparently the roots stop at the Council of Trent.)
Looking to the future, the Pope made it clear that "the shortage of priests must not come to be considered as a normal or typical state of affairs." (It is becoming sadly apparent that the solution to the priesthood crisis lies in the purposeful reduction in the numbers of the laity.)
He exhorted the bishops resolve the crisis by combining efforts to "encourage new priestly vocations and find the pastors your dioceses need, helping one another so that all of you have better-trained and more numerous priests to support the life of faith and the apostolic mission."
As the Church celebrates the Year for Priests and the 150th anniversary of the death of the "Cure of Ars," Pope Benedict pointed to the French priest as a model for priests, "especially in living a life of celibacy as a requirement for the total giving of self." This total gift of self is "expressed through that pastoral charity which Vatican Council II presents as the unifying center of a priest's being and actions," he reminded. (So much for married priests, unless they are Anglican or Lutheran converts.)
The Holy Father ended his address on a positive note, assuring the prelates that "many signs of hope" exist for the future of particular Churches. This future, he said is one that "God is preparing through the dedication and the faithfulness with which you exercise your episcopal ministry." (He certainly can't mean the Church in Brazil which is losing members at a catastrophic rate and has a priest to lay ratio of 1-7,500 which is the worst ratio in the entire Catholic world.)
For all practical purposes it looks to me as if Pope Benedict has written off most of the Brazilian church. These Brazilian bishops have to be heart sick because every meaningful attempt they have made to keep some contact with the faithful has involved lay participation. I wonder if they reflected on the fact that in their country they have some 18,500 priests, but in Benedict's Italy there are 50,000+ priests. Maybe they wonder if Pope Benedict really gets their problem because Benedict is surrounded by nothing but priests and has always lived that way. Maybe they think Benedict should transfer a couple thousand of his Italian priests to Brazil. Or maybe they think he is just completely out of touch. In any event they return to Brazil with no solutions and no hope for their particular church.
Mabye there's something wrong with me, but it's terribly sad that so many of the Body of Christ will be deprived of the Sacraments as the cost of maintaining the ordained celibate male priesthood. No matter what flaws are exposed, or shortages recounted, or corruption uncovered, none of these make any difference. It seems the single most critical aspect of Roman Catholicism is not Jesus Christ. It's this clerical version of priesthood which must be protected at all costs. This is a classic case of the mythos transcending the message of the Founder.
I just wonder if the future Benedict sees for 'particular churches' doesn't include one particular church that is not chained to the current model of the ordained priesthood. Progressive Americans sometimes see this as the future for the American Catholic Church, but it may be it rises in response to the ashes of the Brazilian Catholic Church. In any case, it's coming because I can't believe the Holy Spirit will let this church founder on the Rock of Peter.
We as Catholics will continue to respond in positive ways to the implosion of the Roman Catholic Church.ReplyDelete
Those that call themselves THE clergy of the church are only a small part of the People of God and only a small part of the Priesthood of the Church. I thing that a good way to face this implosion of a faulty institution run by leaders out of contact with both reality and Godliness is for the People of God to continue to celebrate their own Eucharist in their own homes and in their own communities without the need of any Roman leadership. The formation of small prayer groups are a start. The Eucharist can be co-celebrated with a selected leader.
I think that what the clergy fear the most, the loss of position in society, is being facilitated by this current Pope.
R. Dennis Porch, MD
Wow, love the Popes garb. He reminds me of Glenda the good witch of the East in the Wizard of Oz. Similar colors, the lace, the pageantry, but wearing the wicked witch of the West's red slippers.ReplyDelete
A picture does say a thousand words. The poor Pope has given in to the riches of power and glorification of men.
Christ lives on, but not in this Church. Very sad. Very, very sad.
Pope Benedict sounds as if he is "protecting" the Prince's in the Church and wants to keep the laity from getting too close to its sinful secrets. It is easier for him to protect them if he keeps the laity at bay.ReplyDelete
In this process he is also destroying the Church at the same time he says he is protecting it.
The Rome that crucified Christ now crucifies Christ in its own Church?
Jesus weeps at this spectacle of in persona Peter fleeing.
Today is the feast of Hildegard of Bingen. Amazing to read about her life- lots to reflect on - and what it means to be called a "visionary"!ReplyDelete
As soon as I saw the photo, the caption "The Flying Hun" came to mind.ReplyDelete
Who in their right mind will dress like the Pope in the picture and call himself the "Vicar of Christ."?? Who would believe that Jesus would dress like this?ReplyDelete
We are told to be humble. This is not humble. This is pretentious. We are to serve as Priests, but look, he is being served. Who believes this to be the Vicar of Christ?
Butterfly, I see this photo got your dander up. It's just the triumphal priest in all his glory.ReplyDelete
Erie54PA, thanks for reminding me about Hildegard. I believe she had some choice words for clerics who were addicted to ostentatious pomp and ceremony, if I remember correctly.
Like all mystics she had her run ins with the local powers that be and she and her convent were placed under interdict for a short time. This for refusing to remove the body of an excommunicate from her cemetery as she felt the man had made a good confession and reconciled with the Church. Love her chant.
Colleen, I did not lose my temper. What I said is the truth. He does not represent Christ. He is a scholar and he is very confused. He is backward. I do not even consider him a Priest.ReplyDelete
Butterfly in the mystery of how concsioucness really operates, Benedict's intent is to be a priest, and there for he is. None of us can change that fact no matter what we think of his definition of priesthood. It's one of the ways that Jesus's claim to be with His people always is manifested.ReplyDelete
I may disagree with Benedict's limited definition of who is eligible for priesthood, but I do not deny his priesthood. On the other hand, I don't deny Dennis's concept either.
He is not my Priest. He may be to others, but he is not to me.ReplyDelete
If Porch is correct, then all you really need to do to see the kind of church you desire, is to, well, sit on your big fat porch and watch the implosion. I encourage you to do just that. I think this implosion has been predicted for about the last 30 years. Stay comfy.ReplyDelete
I never tire of quoting this passage from Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, since it seems so apt to our present situation within the RCC.ReplyDelete
"The new spirituality, the transformation of consciousness, is arising to a large extent outside the structures of the existing institutionalized religions….
Partly as a result of the spiritual teachings that have arisen outside the established religions, but also due to an influx of the ancient Eastern wisdom teachings. a growing number of followers of traditional religions are able to let go of identification with form, dogma, and rigid belief systems and discover the original depth that is hidden within their own spiritual traditions at the same time as they discover the depth within themselves….
Those unable to look beyond form become even more deeply entrenched in their beliefs, that is to say, in their mind. We are witnessing not only an unprecedented influx of consciousness at this time but also an entrenchment and intensification of the ego. Some religious institutions will be open to the new consciousness; others will harden their doctrinal positions and become part of all those other man-made structures through which the collective ego will defend itself and "fight back." Some churches, sects, cults, or religious movements are basically collective egoic entities, as rigidly identified with their mental positions as the followers of any political ideology that is closed to any alternative interpretation of reality.
But the ego is destined to dissolve, and all its ossified structures, whether they be religious or other institutions, corporations, or governments, will disintegrate from within, no matter how deeply entrenched they appear to be. The most rigid structures, the most impervious to change, will collapse first."
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, pg. 17-19)
Thanks for this quote of Tolle's Jayden. The egoic aspect of Catholicism is clearly demonstrated in the photograph and Benedict's treatise on the priesthood.ReplyDelete