It is easy to cast stones at dear old Mother Damnable but we tend to think we Catholics are a bit different. There was an article last month that claimed 2% of Anglican clergy didn't believe in God and 16% are agnostic, it went on to say
Clergy were significantly more likely to hold unorthodox beliefs the older they were and the longer they had been in the ministry. Nearly 90 per cent of those ordained since 2011 believe in God compared with only 72 per cent of those who became priests in the 1960s, the research discovered.I think actually more older clergy tend not to believe or have lost their faith.
Perhaps the fiasco at the Synod has challenged such a one sided view, it is worth remembering the substantial agreement that ARCIC has reached (until the CDF got hold of the documents) to realise that between the CofE and many Catholics there is hardly the difference of a cigarette paper's depth.
A friend of mine has taken over a parish which was run for a decade or so by a priest who had lost his faith and last year those splendid young Irish Domicans expelled an ancient biblical scholar who had for years gone around saying he didn't believe in God and trying to undermine the faith of others. Many younger clergy had speculated that a recently retired bishop was really an atheist or at best agnostic. During the abuse crisis it struck many as odd that abusing priests could ascend to the altar or pulpit and offer the most Holy Sacrifice or preach as if nothing had happened, not believing could be the only excuse.
I loathe clergy meetings, after a bit of praying at the beginning God tends not to get a look in when we make plans for his Church and his people. I had somehow hoped that meetings of Bishops might be different, and Synods in the Holy See would be even more different but as it turns out ..., well look at the mid-term document of the Synod: God was decidedly absent, deliberately excluded.
There are some pretty obvious signs of non-belief; being content to remain in mortal sin is pretty obvious, never speaking of God might be another, perhaps having cob-webs in the episcopal chapel or not having one another might be another, never praying unless there are others there to be led is another, finding people with faith tedious or not being able engage with them presumably is another sign. The surest sign of a priest or a bishop without faith is the fruitless of his parish or diocese, no vocations, emptying churches, a lack of love or concern for the liturgy and most of all for the reverent celebration of Mass, a lack of concern for souls and morality, and above all a lack of growth, a lack of holiness. 'By there fruits you shall know them'.
I am told if you want to be a priest nowadays psychologists have devised some pretty tough tests, just to make sure you are telling the truth, and not a pederast or mad, surely it would not be too difficult to devise some test for faith. I would love to make it a rule that only priests with faith could become Pastors of a parish and certainly only priests with burning faith, that catches others alight could become bishops. I don't know how you ensure that, any ideas?