Sunday, July 19, 2015

Priests going


I used to know lots of priests in the Roman dicasteries but they have been queuing up at Rome's airports and leaving for their home dioceses with the intention of never returning. The problem is the Pope bullies their bosses and their bosses bully them, so they go. Even the most thick skinned and dedicated can only put up with a certain degree of insults and contempt. That, and an increasing degree of "South Americanisation" makes the Holy See more and more difficult a working environment. For the thin skinned and sensitive, as the Pope's world inevitably narrows, every morning in Sta Martha brings more insults.

The Roman exuent is based on a simple choice, 'Do I stay or do I go?' Going is easier than staying.

Last night I discovered a priest with whom I overlapped with at the seminary, who I heard had left, is actually an Anglican clergyman and is also now the head of that strange virulently anti-Catholic group, the Protestant Truth Society.

In the last week or so on Catholic social media the story of a priest who has resigned and apparently embraced a gay lifestyle or simply has come out as a homosexual, seems to have captured people's prurience and some pretty unpleasant speculation. And yes, in my diocese my bishop was forced to resign.

Whenever a priest or a bishop leaves the ministry it is very easy simply to blame them and fail to question what lies behind their leaving. Priests are unhappy with bullying and are leaving Rome. It is the unhappiness and bullying that has forced them out. A good employer might ask if something can be done to end that situation, like telling the Pope to lay off, or simply making him aware of the unhappiness his actions are causing.

When a priest or bishop leaves it is easy for members of the Church to simply be angry rather than examining their conscience. If a priest chooses a libidinous lifestyle surely we should be asking why a community which professes brotherly love, compassion, mercy is so bad at offering to its ministers. Why is it that a priest should feel he is more likely to find the help and support he feels he needs outside the Church rather than within it. Why does he become disillusioned with the Gospel and, err..., illusioned by a gay life style? Why is the love of his people, but more importantly, the pastoral care of his brother priests and his bishop, his Father-in-God so lacking? 'The Church is a field hospital', if that is so then why are so many people dying in it rather that being restored to health?

32 comments:

Bill said...

Fr. Blake, can you comment on the meaning of your statement: ""South Americanisation" makes the Holy See more and more difficult a working environment."? I have read many of the statements made by P Francis and found them distressing. Although some corrections must be made periodically in any organization, they should be made quietly with due reverence to the people affected. Public displays of angry corrections do little more that make people angry who will then react in their intertest rather than that of the organization as you have aptly shown

Jacobi said...

Father,

In my diocese we have had a number of priests recently who have left Rome - but for a sound reason. They have been posted "home" to fill the ever increasing shortages and to avoid parish closures. And what is more the ones I have come across are good.

But I accept your point about bullying, or rather, the time has past for unthinking obedience to "authority". It's a new world now. All Catholics, clergy and lay alike, have to start thinking for themselves, start thinking what Scripture, Revelation, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church have to say, and applying that.

The coming Synod on the Family will sort out the wheat from the chaff.

Terry Nelson said...

This makes me sad.

In my diocese a very stern, staunch, devout priest is rumored to be leaving the priesthood - he supposedly has a girlfriend. He resigned after the bishop was accused of covering for priests who abused boys. He suggested the bishop resign and then the priest himself resigned - evidently the bishop had not intended to resign at that time. Perhaps the office culture was what you say priests complain about under Pope Francis? A negative culture.

I recall once going to confession to this priest - he was terribly 'rigid' and he scolded me saying 'why would you even do something like that?' Then he told me to go to the parish office to get a leaflet on how to make a good confession. Whenever I encountered him he was always too busy to say anything but 'pray for me' - no hi, yes, or no. I worked in a Catholic bookstore as a manager - he would only deal with people in charge. He ordered books and when I'd call to tell him the books were in - he often wanted someone to deliver them. Once I called him and used his first name, rather than last, "Hello, Fr. Paul?" He immediately corrected me and said "this is Fr. Last name."

Long story short, I have to wonder how many priests who work in the curia or chanceries or teach at university, may in fact be clericalist-careerists? When recognition or promotion doesn't materialize, or they disagree with 'management', they resign.

Just asking. Not accusing.

Just another mad Catholic said...

If I may make some comments (about the Roman dicastries)

Not knowing much about the situation I would say that fundamentally although 'peronisation) of the curia and the clerical careerist back-biting doesn't help thats not the root of the situation.

The root of the problem I think is that most priests are simply not good administrators and that most priests (even the supposedly fluffy and nice liberal ones) would baulk at the laity (by which I mean those of us not in Holy Orders of under religious vows) taking a more active role in the Curia.

a) Most Priests are not good administrators. I happen to work in administration and I can tell you know that its not something anyone can do, its a specialised skill that takes a certain mindset. I work for a Brokerage firm and whilst the Brokers are very intelligent people who manage tens of millions of pounds each, they fall over themselves when it comes to write reports detailing the suitability of the service they provide. Cardinal Pell it seems, is one of the few Dicastary heads who actually has good administrative skills, as evidenced by the fact that every few months he unearths another couple of million Euros stuffed down the back of the sofa, and not recorded on the ledger sheet.

Another factor is that I'm sure most Priests didn't envisage sitting behind a desk when they were ordained, I assume that most of them brought into the 'Pastor of souls' idea, not a nine to five desk jockey in Rome. And whilst I'm told its not unusual to break in a new ordained Priest by having him be the Bishop's gofer for a year, that's a very different kettle of fish.


b) The second part of the problem is that whether professional administrators or not, I doubt that many Priests would like the idea of writing to Rome only to have the response come from a laymen. The Italians wouldn't like it because of the cultural inertia, the Americans wouldn't wear it for other reasons, the Traditional elements in the Church would go haywire for completely different reasons than the liberals would. Additionally you can get away with paying a cleric less than a 1,000 euros a month, you couldn't get away with paying a laymen such a small sum.

I'm afraid I don't really have a solution, you can downsize the curia and pray..... but that's all I can suggest.

Savonarola said...

Good questions. Could it be that a highly formal religious system of doctrines and rituals like Catholicism does not encourage real experience of God and desire to share his love and mercy, only observance of forms?

EuropeanCatholic said...

Father,

Your article which highlights the difficulties in Christ's Church during this Pontificate called to mind this well written article by Carl Olson.

http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/4035/the_hyperbolic_and_exhausting_papacy_of_francis.aspx

Oakes Spalding said...

In my view, as a layman, the post Vatican II Church has been progressively stripping away the "romance" of the priesthood. Or rather, for a strong man who is 100% sure himself and the Catholic faith, they can't really strip it away, but for most they appear to. So a priest is now perceived as a relatively poorly paid social worker/non-profit administrator/public speaker who is (generally) barred from having a wife or family and who every Sunday must go through certain archaic motions as entertainment for a dwindling number of people who need an hour or so a week of "spirituality" in their lives.

I cannot imagine any sane man who would find that attractive.

I think for a while the priesthood was looked at as sort of as a good "gay job". Among other things it acted as cover for a gay man who had no intention of getting married anyway. So, paradoxically, as gay has become more "mainstream" and "acceptable", even that "attraction" has faded.

Oakes Spalding said...

However, from the point of view of a traditionalist Catholic, the priesthood is amazingly attractive and yes, romantic. As Graham Greene put it, you're part of a "crack squad" that can, well, do things no one else can. You can (in the person of Christ) forgive mortal sin. Indeed, once a day you in one sense become Christ as you consecrate ordinary bread and wine. I hope, Father, you won't think me flippant if I describe my first impressions of the priest who catechized my wife and I and who married us, as a kind of superhero. He wore a black cassock with a "bat belt" of a Cross, a Rosary, holy water and anointing oil. This balding middle-aged man (who still looked the physical part of the tough lay school principal that he had been until recently) explained to the class one of the main reasons he became a priest: "This! Once a day, this!" Then he stood in front of the class and stretched out his arms as Christ crucified.

But who sees it like that now outside of the traditionalist and like-minded communities?

I just re-read john Paul II's first letter to priests on Holy Thursday, 1979. It's incredibly inspiring and appropriate. Too late for me now but I would be the proudest father in the world if one of my sons entered the priesthood.

Oakes Spalding said...

However, from the point of view of a traditionalist Catholic, the priesthood is amazingly attractive and yes, romantic. As Graham Greene put it, you're part of a "crack squad" that can, well, do things no one else can. You can (in the person of Christ) forgive mortal sin. Indeed, once a day you in one sense become Christ as you consecrate ordinary bread and wine. I hope, Father, you won't think me flippant if I describe my first impressions of the priest who catechized my wife and I and who married us, as a kind of superhero. He wore a black cassock with a "bat belt" of a Cross, a Rosary, holy water and anointing oil. This balding middle-aged man (who still looked the physical part of the tough lay school principal that he had been until recently) explained to the class one of the main reasons he became a priest: "This! Once a day, this!" Then he stood in front of the class and stretched out his arms as Christ crucified.

But who sees it like that now outside of the traditionalist and like-minded communities?

I just re-read john Paul II's first letter to priests on Holy Thursday, 1979. It's incredibly inspiring and appropriate. Too late for me now but I would be the proudest father in the world if one of my sons entered the priesthood.

Pablo the Mexican said...

"...(1).Why is it that a priest should feel he is more likely to find the help and support he feels he needs outside the Church rather than within it.

(2). Why does he become disillusioned with the Gospel and, err..., illusioned by a gay life style?

(.3). Why is the love of his people, but more importantly, the pastoral care of his brother priests and his bishop, his Father-in-God so lacking? 'The Church is a field hospital', if that is so then why are so many people dying in it rather than being restored to health?..."

Priests as well as others are always welcomed in Sin by those who are they themselves lovers of Sin. Holy Mother Church is not a home for Sin. It is a refuge for repentant Sinners.

Those obsessed with the homosexual Sin are even more so because God turns them over to reprobate minds. They burn for each other.

The Catholic answer to why the Holy Father is treating Priests badly:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZuL3k96sdM#t=357

We need to return to Catholic thinking and behaving.

*

Nicholas said...

This is the reason why I left monastic life 20 years ago and the very same reason I returned to the Anglican Church very recently.

Jacobi said...

One could say that priests with a lack of conviction about their calling, whether it is incompatible with their homosexual tendencies or for whatever reason, are better out of the priesthood. This is perhaps a good time for all clergy to review and decide.

The priesthood is in severe, on-going decline in Western Europe and the Americas. We will have in the future, and I mean within the next 20 years or so, a much smaller Catholic Church, just as we had after the last Reformation.

The Church will have to start again.

This applies equally to the laity. The days of "cultural" Catholicism are over. To be a Catholic or not is a personal choice. Laity who cannot accept Catholicism should leave, and not try to change the Church to their particular beliefs. There are plenty of others religious groupings they can join.

The Vatican will have to adjust. For a start, a huge drop in revenue and therefore bureaucracy. Perhaps less conferences and jetting around which, if nothing else, will cut the Church's CO2 contribution, whatever effect that has?

nickbris said...

Are they leaving the Church because they are unhappy about the Pope ? I thought they took an oath of obedience

Fr Ray Blake said...

no

Bill said...

Good grief. I never expected that the anti-Catholic trolls would be reading Fr. Blake's blog.

Liam Ronan said...

I pity and pray for all of those who have departed from the Catholic Church owing Bergolio's merciless public 'Manos Arriba!'harangues alternating with public dissimulations and Jesuitical platitudes. I stay with the Church because that is where Christ is and the only certain road that leads to salvation by way of her doctrine and sacraments.

Hard to imagine Jesus, His Apostles, saints, or the Faithful of any era taking a walk because someone is mean to them or speaks cruelly of them. For Pete's sake. Get reassignment or enter monastic life. It's a big world outside Rome. Just do not apostatise or abandon the True Faith. You haven't resisted unto death...yet.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Liam, I am not suggesting anyone is leaving the priesthood because the Pope has been beastly to them, though this might result in a certain rethinking, they are leaving Rome to return their diocese or religious orders. I am merely putting ideas together.
One idea I am suggesting is that we, Pope, bishops or fellow clergy are not good at caring for priests, but what I am really asking is why a priest renounces the faith for gay culture.

Liam Ronan said...

Sorry I misunderstood the thrust of your argument, Father. I suppose there are some who, not priests, have renounced their faith for the homosexual culture and forsaken their spouses and families. The mystery of iniquity, I suppose.

It seems though that some priests are perfectly willing to remain in Rome where the gay culture is deeply ensconced and carry on with their pro-forma observance of the Catholic religion. Dangerous men these who remain like an unseen cancer.

August said...

If we look at what St. Paul wrote, well, we can see our leaders haven't taken his advice. For all his praise of celibacy, St. Paul said to marry the young. Now we are seeing the fruit of ignoring his advice while simultaneously accepting the modern world's extended adolescence- deviancy. Sex isn't just to be put on hold. If you want healthy relationships, you put people into healthy relationships early. If you do not, the pressures of school/career/society are arrayed against children, but for sexual pleasure, so deviancy slowly comes to seem more and more normal. Think about how they call it sexual preferences, like one is choosing between different flavors of ice cream, rather than the true and ultimate choice between life and death.

The devastation has already been with us for sometime. Radical change is necessary, but I have seen little evidence that anyone is interested in changing anything. Whatever the pope is doing, at least he is shaking things up, but I shudder to think of who is left. No matter- this global communion is completely inauthentic in an age when we cannot achieve a local one.

Bill said...

Liam Ronan wrote: "It seems though that some priests are perfectly willing to remain in Rome where the gay culture is deeply ensconced and carry on with their pro-forma observance of the Catholic religion" I have heard this accusation several times, so much that I am tending to disregard it. Certainly there are some gay priests in Rome, but talk of a "deeply ensconced" gay culture? If there is such a situation, do you not think that the Pope would root it out? P. Francis appears to be the kind of person who would do such an action.

Cosmos said...

Fr. Blake,

I am a little confused by this post. It's like asking whether it was judgmental of the Evangelist, at the direction of the Holy Spirit, to point out that Judas didn't really love the poor, but just wanted more money for himself.

The obvious reason some traditionally-minded people are not at all sympathetic about SOME priests leaving on bad terms is because SOME priests go out of their way to marginalize the traditional faith. They used their authority to recreate the Church in their own image and suppress the practices of those who see things differently. Then the "You are a Pharisee" Catholics come along and heap it on the traditionally-minded, explaining why the those people are hypocrites and that all the suppression is really great, and rational, and perfectly in line with the Church's mission in the contemporary world. So once a public reason is disclosed that makes it pretty darn obvious why the Priest was suppressing some parts of the truth (i.e., "I condemn anyone with a traditional understanding of homosexuality because I am an active homosexual"), some people want to get the record straight. Apparently, even this is too judgmental.

As for the Curia, those people may be having a similar emotional response to their persecution, but it is not the same. Its like comparing police leaving the force because they are bullied into ignoring corruption with people being happy that a crooked officer was forced out.

A priest who is living the gay lifestyle is not a suitable shepherd. He may be a nice man, endowed with dignity and rights by his Creator, entitled to full protection of the law and the respect of his fellow citizens, but he is not embracing the Catholic faith and should not be in charge of a parish. A priest who is pushed out because he steadily embraces a faith that was perfectly compatible with the Church for the past 50 years is in an entirely different boat.

Liam Ronan said...

@Bill,

You said: "P. Francis appears to be the kind of person who would do such an action." referring to my comment which you cited.

I must presuppose this observation of yours is tongue in cheek. Otherwise, I suspect you may suffering from a fever and in need of the ER at the hospital of mercy.

In any event, I meant 'Rome' as both a city and an ecclesiastical entity. If you think mine is 'an accusation' I invite you to have a bit of a read of the reliable reporting (secular and religious) available anywhere on the internet or in print.

@Augustine,

A reasonable suggestion, but I am convinced that marriage, however young, would be the prescription for the clerical predatory paedophile.

Better they left for a life of open licentiousness as did the Prodigal Son whose father did not try to dissuade him from departing nor seek out his Prodigal Son and drag him back from the cesspit.

Wunderbar said...

Yes, its true that we have a huge clericalistic issue (in the worst sense of the term) here in South America, especially in Argentina. Probably its the same in countries like Spain or Italy, but i don´t know.
Bergoglio came from that environment: clerical terrorism, pharisaic bullying, political accomodation, careerism (maybe what people in Uk call "popery"). He suffered all of that, and that is the only Church that he knows and the only world that he knows, and the only life that he knows. Now he feels that he is at the top and has no limits. That is the reason for his suddenly face and general aspect changes as soon as he was elected. We can hardly recognize him from before. He told to one argentine politician that he saw his election as a prize for his efforts (instead of a terrorific burden), like a promotion.
The other problem is that he doesn´t have the slightest idea of what blogs like this one (and others in the anglo-saxon sphere) are talking about. He doesn´t care, and he doesn´t speak English.
Probably he just despise all of these, but believe me Fr., your blog (and many others) gave us a different perspective of the Church and the Papacy, to cure this clerical disease and yes, Papolatry.

Father Spike said...

When you say you overlapped with that fellow in seminary, do you mean that he was actually ordained a Catholic priest and then left and became an anti-Catholic Kensit-type Anglican?
In recent decades, that is a rather unusual itinerary, as most Catholic priests who have departed from the Church have done so in order to seek a more liberal sort of religion. It is surprising to come across someone who fits more the 19th-century pattern of apostate priests who appear on the Protestant platform to denounce Popery.
But I suppose that defections can lead to all sorts of outcomes, even to Protestant fundamentalism.

Liam Ronan said...

Ach! I've made a typo, I see. Well there's a first time for everything. (ahem)

Meant to say in my earlier post:

"A reasonable suggestion, but I am convinced that marriage, at however young an age, would not be the prescription for the clerical predatory paedophile."

Vincent said...

Father, I'm glad that you have pointed this out; the vitriol poured out at the poor priest in question has been absolutely horrible - especially given the lack of evidence I have seen in relation to the claims made against him. I noted in particular the comments on Church Militant - I admire Michael Voris immensely, but they need to be careful of calumny and detraction. I am unabashedly a 'traditionalist', but the unkindness shown to people who leave the Faith is frankly offputting. It wouldn't surprise me if people leave the Church simply because of the nasty comments they see about people who are desperately in need of prayers.

Of course, public sins should be pointed out publicly, not least because the scandal they cause, but compassion is a valuable weapon in the church's armoury - and one that tends to be lost amongst 'traditionalists'.

As for comments here that administration is not a priest's forte: indeed. It does slightly surprise me that an organisation such as the Catholic Church doesn't have at least a core staff of professionals who are actually trained and qualified to do their jobs. Of course clergy can be good at such jobs, but the Church and its structure do not tend towards the unearthing of such talents. I rather hope that over time a number of administrative and managerial jobs within the Holy See are given over to lay people with the necessary talents (such as Communications). I'd apply!

Flower of Lucca said...

I doubt that the Pope bullies his staff, although his volatility is clearly difficult for some of them to deal with. Just have a look at the video of the Mass from Caacupe Basilica, Paraguay (34:00) on Vatican Youtube and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Sixupman said...

"Luke Delmege" by Canon Sheehan - on climbing the greasy pole!

What about diocesan bishops deferring to the local association of clergy to effectively debar priests of Traditional leaning, or, at the very lest, throwing them into hinterland marginal parishes.

Or my own, now ex-PP, forced to retire against the wishes of both himself and his parishioners. A faithful servant of Mother Church,Pope and Bishop this past sixty years or more and now denied access to his church, except as con-celebrant and even denied the ability to give-out Communion, when he do so, upon the instruction of the new [shared parish] PP.

FR. Spike: In the South of Scotland, the Local Ordinary, an unbeliever in the Ordained Priesthood - in favour of that of the laity, preferred an ex CofS minister to a parish and Deanery head, to one of his home grown clergy. The bishop closed a particular parish church, sold-off as a wedding venue, with the congregation having to hear (M)ass in a close-by CofS - where the minister was an ex Catholic priest. [There used to be a column a Sunday Paper - "Would you believe it", such would qualify for inclusion.

Jacobi said...

Sixupman,

Last para. What a funny place you are describing. It must be the lower left hand bit!

Sixupman said...

Jacobi,

Indeed!!!!!

Lepanto said...

Could it be that the Pope's dislike of bureaucracy has now extended to a distaste for all those he perceives to be bureaucrats, when most are probably necessary 'cogs' in the 'machine'. Someone who shows such a clear and strong preference for speaking and acting with spontaneity can be expected to have little patience with those whose duties require them to exercise great care in these respects and most of whom would expect similar care to be demonstrated by the 'boss'.

Occasional spontaneity is probably a virtue in the 'top man' in any organisation but total unpredictability and unwillingness to be bound by normal procedures or restraint must be the 'stuff of nightmares' for anyone trying to work effectively under him. I would be 'off like a shot' if I found myself in the service of such an individual.

viterbo said...

Things is, did the option of 'do I stay or do I go' get ratified at VII? I have to wonder what a lot of those 'staying' or 'going' are leaving and arriving at given the anti-Catholic revolution continuing to come upon the parishes like some modernist monster-octopus.

PS. The Second Vatican Council (specifically Lumen Gentium) used a tiny phrase with a huge idea 'subsistit in' = subsists in - to describe the Catholic Church. From this it was 'natural' to go on to preach the idea of 'partial' communions. What happens when a damaged dialectic is given its application? People leaving Christ's Church (the subsist bit) for the 'partial' will, of course, end up in the partial bit being the whole bit - its called gravity.

Anglicans and Lutherans and their myraid denomenations, or the Mohammedans or the Talmudists - all the partials help to 'essentialize' the 'subsists' bit - see?

Back in the 80s Archbishop O'Connor of NY said to a former parishioner who converted to Judaism who was worried about his mother's response - "this is not just a revolt or a rejection, this is not a dismissal of what you don’t understand — that this is where you think God wants you to be, an informed Jew."