Monday, October 18, 2010

Convert Clergy - a few questions

At our Traditional Mass last night there was a young man with his child who has just been reconciled to Mother Church, until a couple of months ago he had been an Anglican clergyman - I presume he will seek to be ordained in the Catholic Church - pray for him.
With Ushaw College closing it is pretty obvious that ad intra the Catholic Church in this country is really unable to maintain itself, it is only with help ad extra, from the Ordinariate or other converts that we can continue to run the parishes we have. In many dioceses the number of those now ordained priest both married and celibate, who left the CofE after the ordination of women to the presbyterate is well above 10 or even 15%, the number is much higher if one includes other converts from Anglicanism who were never ordained.
The question no-one seems to ask is: why the Catholic Church in this country is unable to sustain itself?

There is a disproportionate number of converts at the altar compared to cradle Catholics in the pews, in the same way there is a disproportionate number of cradle Catholics bishops to convert priests. Again, why?


Anonymous said...

An interesting Question!, Father.
Maybe the answer could be found in the area of not handing on the Faith in the Catholic Church, particularly in its schools. Why should any Catholic become a priest if he does not understand or have some appreciation of the Mass as Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary?
Solution? (1) Get rid of the Catholic Education Service;
(2)establish a sound Teachers@ Training College (primarily for Catholics though other people could enrol provided they sign up to a Catholic agenda).
(5)Get sound textboos
(4) Only use Catholic Hymnals

Sadie Vacantist said...

What the bishops don't want exposed in respect of the sex scandals is the defective ecclesiology which underpinned many of the disastrous decisions to rehabilitate priests. Michael Hill in your own diocese is proof of it's failure. The same ecclesiology is present elsewhere notably in liturgy, catechesis and seminary formation. This is the true scandal despite what the mainstream media might say. Frankly, bishops and priests of a certain age simply can't face this reality. Ironically, if you were to send the entire hierarchy to one of their own treatment centres one would be left concluding that these men are in denial and unfit for public ministry. In other words, they would fair less well than the abusers who were placed back into parishes. At least these latter took the trouble to hoodwink their assessors, the hierarchy don't even bother to do that.

Richard Collins said...

Father, the Church in Great Britain cannot sustain itself because young men of traditional views are routinely debarred from seminaries at their preliminary interviews.
In addition, we have the obscene situation where Bishops are closing or merging parishes because of lack of priests yet they doggedly refuse to entertain support from the FSSP or ICKSP.
To paraphrase Archbishop Fulton Sheen: "Who is going to save our Church? Not our Bishops, not our priests and religious, it is up to you, the people."
Time we got moving I think.

Et Expecto said...

You ask "why is the Catholic Church unable to sustain itself". The answer is that in recent decades the Church in England and Wales has been somewhat blown off course. There has been some abandonment of principles, or at least compromise of princilpes to accommodate modern secular societies.

When this culture of compromise is eventually rejected, Ushaw College may find a useful role again.

Cam T said...

It's not really a new phenomenon, however, is it? While the perecentage of convert clergy may be larger today because of the ecclesiological crisis within the C of E and the vocations crisis within the modern Catholic Church, when one thinks of famous Catholic priests and bishops over the last century and a half, many, many of them are converts: Newman, Manning, Hopkins, Knox, Benson, Faber, Copleston, Martindale, Aidan Nichols, etc., etc. One would be hard pressed to come up with a comparable list of cradle Catholics!

Sadie Vacantist said...

At Mass yesterday the distribution of the Eucharist has become ridiculous. The purpose of lay distributors is to the speed the process up. What in reality is happening is that the blessing of children and babies now dominates with the result that the Mass is taking longer than if the priest was the sole distributor, distributing under the one species. This irony is lost on the PP. In an act of total degradation for everyone concerned, the institution of the Eucharist is now acting as a sideshow to this impromptu baby blessing ceremony.

Robin Ward said...

Has the Catholic Church in England and Wales ever managed to sustain the number of diocesan priests from strictly home-grown vocations since the re-establishment of the hierarchy? Surely recruitment from Ireland was always vital, and its eclipse the reason why proportionally convert clergy now seem more prominent.

Dilly said...

I agree with all posters to some extent - and with EF in full.

On school catechesis - please remember those without access to Catholic secondary schools....schools like Coloma (in the news recently) are heavily oversubscribed and many Catholics, through no fault of their own, do not get a place. They are then taught RE by atheists for 7 years, and if there is anything on campus - it is usually an evangelical protestant group.

I would chuck out all school and confirmation catechesis and start again - and standardise it. Oh whoops - that's what the Penny catechism was for. Bring it back!

Recruit Catholic teachers of other subjects and train them properly and we will deliver the catechism - FOR FREE. There are loads of us out there. We would gladly teach - but don't have time to write woffly essays on education theory, and go to Oscott for summer schools. I'm certainly not teaching the bilge my daughter got for Confirmation. But that's another story. And by the way - let's give pupils something more challenging. And issue graded certificates. All stuff necessary for confirmation could be done by online assessment. Most of the stuff I see in schools is special needs level. A competent teacher can dumb down if necessary - but undumbing dumb stuff is harder.

Re Seminaries
A grave issue is the level of student debt now accumulated by potential applicants. I don't know how to solve this one - as if these debts are paid off on entry, you will get unscrupulous people using the seminaries for a year, then leaving - debt free. However - genuine applicants will need to be helped.

gemoftheocean said...

I expect Richard is on the right track. HEre in the US back in the SEventies well in to the 90s men who didn't hide their orthodoxy to some degree were often harassed, etc by the seminary system. Either for not being gay tolerant or seen as "clinging to traditional worship forms" like benediction, etc. This is was documented in the book "Goodbye Good men" I suspect similar stories can be had in the UK. Get good BISHoPS and seminary staff and you will see a turn around.

The parish I now attend is exclusively FSSP, and every single one of them I've met so far has been a top notch orthodox individual, someone often who was accomplished in another field. My own pastor was a chemical engineer for a time and his associate was a Coast Guard Academy grad, also with an engineering degree. One is 43, the other about 11 years younger.

VERY sound, as is any visiting FSSP priest. My pastor told me that he was one of the "old men."
The average age in the order is about 36.

Get rid of Sister Miniskirt who leads the seminary team along with her brother, Fr. LaidbackDude and you might see a change, I suspect.

Another thing is Catholics need to stop hiding their identity in the public forum. Stand up and be proud of your faith.

And right on to EFPastor who complained about the bad catechesis in the schools. IT's not the Ordinary Form, it's the bad catechsis. Poland, is very devout on the whole, but being behind the iron block *their* catechism heads didn't get the western brainwash of softpedaling the fundamentals of the faith at all the so-called Catholic Educational Conferences in the 60s and onwards that rotten whole barrels.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

There are clearly many good reasons for rejecting certain young men at the seminary or pre-seminary stage, because they just aren’t cut out to be priests. But we still hear talk of candidates for the priesthood being measured against a “diocesan profile,” which raises all sorts of questions about what the “profile” is and who decides who fits it.

Is there a diocesan vocations director out there who reads this blog and can comment on the widespread rumour that English dioceses are continuing to weed out “conservative” types at the seminary selection stage?

Is the current body of English seminarians all that can be drummed up, or is it a rump that has been purged of otherwise good candidates who have been rejected by theological liberals influential in the selection process?

torchofthefaith said...

Good question Father Ray!

Here are a some pointers towards an answer -

1. Lack of primary evangelisation across the board.

2. The integrity of the Faith not being taught in most 'Catholic' schools.

3. The atheistic use of sex education which is a sure killer of vocations and - in time - the theological virtue of Faith.

4. Orthodox students being prevented from entering seminaries by secularist gate keepers.

5. Orthodox students who manage to pass the gate keepers being gravely persecuted.

6. Widespread dissent from the parish level all the way up to the bishops.

7. A lack of any meaningful catechesis in accord with the mind and heart of the Church in most places.

8. Diocesan youth services which emphasise a fluffy inclusion model devoid of authentic catechetical content.

9. An unwillingness to challenge the culture of fear which keeps this status quo in many places; for example priests who fear removal from their parishes if they stand up too much.

10. Loss of family prayer - esp. the Rosary.

Pastor Emeritus makes two excellent points - we need to bin the CES and establish a sound Teacher Training College as a matter of urgency.

In terms of education Maryvale is very good and her resources - such as the Echoes Programme and Maryvale Certificate in Catechesis - are helpful in passing on the content of the Faith.

In Christ
Alan and Angeline

georgem said...

I'd be inclined to re-arrange the two questions so that the latter question comes first. That might then give you the answer as to why there is a disproportionate number of convert priests at the altar compared with cradle Catholic priests. Unfortunately.
Like will always promote like. That happens in any calling. I'm afraid only the Pope can break this cycle of self-destruct.

epsilon said...

"At Mass yesterday the distribution of the Eucharist has become ridiculous...What in reality is happening is that the blessing of children and babies now dominates... This irony is lost on the PP. In an act of total degradation for everyone concerned, the institution of the Eucharist is now acting as a sideshow to this impromptu baby blessing ceremony."

Exactly four weeks after Pope Benedict XVI said Mass there a priest stood on the altar at Westminster Cathedral and explained during his homily that the reason we come together in Mass is to pray for each other, with words to the effect that "the bidding prayers" are central to the Mass. No mention of receiving the spiritual nourishment we get directly from God through the priest, no even mention of the words: The Eucharist.

If James Preece is a gadfly, we need swarms of them before anything gets done!

Sadie Vacantist said...


Yes, I suspect that the passive-aggressive persecution of orthodox students remains. This is an improvement on the explicity aggressive attitude of 10 years ago and beyond but no less unpleasant for those on the receiving end. In fact, under secular law, those members of the hierarchy indluging in this behaviour could be prosecuted for bullying in the workplace. A parellel of sorts to what has happened during the sex scandals where the Bishops displayed equal contempt for the law.

georgem said...

Re previous postings, have you seen Fr. Mildew's latest?
This is shocking and he should have all our support.

Volpius Leonius said...

Because the shepherds are feeding the sheep the wrong food.

Crouchback said...

Nobody seems to have asked...???

Come, come Fr, we are blue in the face asking, I've been asking since 1981, when I was only 23 years old.

And not only that, we have the answer, the answer is a full return to the Traditional Mass in every parish.....simple.

But too many are bitter, and have set their faces against the Truth, they were warned what would happen, but washed along in the euphoria of the Silly 60's.....they have decided to run the ship right on to the Rocks rather than admit what others warned about has come all to horribly to pass.

Independent said...

The problem of people who happen to hold traditonal views being denied training for a ministry is not confined to Catholicism. I can remember years ago at an ecumenical meeting addressed by an Anglican bishop who had swallowed the whole trendy agenda attacking him on the grounds that "he who married the spirit of the age would be a widower tomorrow," and being told by a young man after the meeting that he, who seemed to me to be a pleasant, well-educated, and good humoured young man, had been denied the opportunity to study for the Anglican ministry because of his strong Evangelical views on basic doctrine and morality.

The rot which set in during the sixties was interconfessional, as indeed Cardinal Hennan said of heresy. Only the Orthodox seem to have been exempt.

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