I reported a bit on this story last week. I am so glad that the Congregation for the Clergy has taken this initiative, in most dioceses both in England and abroad the response both to the lack of sanctity of the clergy and the shortage of vocations is to set in place "management structures".
The lack of sanctity shown in the sexual scandals has produced in England in every diocese "child protection" departments, which actually do little to protect children and vulnerable adults but a great deal to protect the bishops and the Church as an institution. The lack of vocations is dealt with by management of decline; amalgamating parishes, cutting the number of Masses, expecting aging priests to do even more work.
Nowhere that I know of does a bishop, say, "we rely on God". Indeed this "management of decline" seems to say precisely the opposite, it is a faithless, hopeless response. At worst it ,produces its own theology, which says "God wants less priests, aren't we fortunate, it enables the laity to take on more responsibility". The truth is that of course there are less able and active laity.
I have always believed that the response of the great saintly bishops like St Charles Borromeo would be to order fasts and penance and prayer throughout their diocese. Cardinal Hummes solution is to command bishops to pray, to rely on the mercy of God, to say that the solution depends on a deepening of popular piety. The management solution removes God, and as far I can see, merely hastens the decline, the faith solution put forward by Rome deepens the life of the Church.
I am not suggesting of course that we should not be prudent but if we do not rely on the help of God we might as well be atheists collectivising farms rather than Pastors of the flock of Christ.
(CWNews.com) - The Vatican has launched a campaign of prayer-- specifically, Eucharistic adoration-- for a spiritual revival among the world's priests.
The Congregation for Clergy, in a document released on December 8, calls for a major worldwide drive to promote Eucharistic adoration "for the reparation of faults and sanctification of priests."
In a document issued on December 8, the Congregation for Clergy urges diocesan bishops throughout the world to join in the prayer campaign, and recommends specific steps that should be taken to foster a spirit of Eucharistic adoration.
In response to troubles within the ranks of the clergy, the Congregation acknowledges that "a great many things are necessary," but announces its plan "for the departure point to be a spiritual endeavor."
A spiritual renewal will only come through prayer, the document argues. The Congregation for Clergy notes that Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news), in the apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, strongly recommended Eucharistic adoration as an apt and effective form of prayer for priestly vocations.
The Vatican directive-- signed by Cardinal Claudio Hummes and Archbishop Mauro Piacenza: the prefect and secretary, respectively, of the Congregation for Clergy-- explains:
In order to continually maintain a greater awareness of the ontological link between the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and in order to recognize the special maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary for each Priest, it is our intention to bring about a connection between perpetual Eucharistic adoration for the reparation of faults and sanctification of priests.
The letter from the Congregation for Clergy is dated December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. In explaining their plan, Cardinal Hummes and Archbishop Piacenza make it clear that this was no coincidence, saying that the "intend in a very particular way to entrust all Priests to Mary, the Mother of the High and Eternal Priest."
The Vatican asks every diocesan bishop to promote the new program by appointing a priest "who will devote himself full-time, as far as possible, to the specific ministry of promoting Eucharistic adoration and coordinating this important service in the diocese." The document goes on to say: "Just as there are Marian shrines, with rectors in charge of that particular ministry and suitable for it specific needs, it is also possible to have Eucharistic shrines."
The document suggested establishing specific shrines for continuous Eucharistic adoration, promoting perpetual adoration, designating specific days and times for adoration, making Eucharistic adoration a regular part of special celebrations for feast days, and seeking support for the construction of new shrines for adoration.
[A pamphlet produced by the Congregation for Clergy, outlining the details of the "Prayer for Priests" campaign, can be found on the Congregation's web site, which is currently under development.]
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