Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Frogs can't be priests

The Greek Orthodox Church is suffering a vocations crisis however I had an email from a Greek friend telling me about having just rejected a candidate for the priesthood because he couldn't sing in tune, the lad was apparently devout, studious and intelligent but "... but his voice was like a frog croaking, no way could he sing the Divine Liturgy worthily".
Now if we applied the same the criteria in the West ....


shane said...

The following extract is from a 2005 'Athens News' editorial, commenting on the sex scandals that have all but destroyed the reputation of the once revered Greek Orthodox Church:

"Priests are only spiritually beholden to the church. Their real employer is the state, which will this year spend 157 million euros on their salaries and pensions. They are, by law, civil servants, and poorly performing ones at that. Churches charge for their services, although they are supposed to be free. It goes beyond the big three, baptism, marriage and the Great Ushering Off: individual priests illegally charge to perform blessings, exorcisms and other indispensable services. In the countryside, itinerant priests who are supposed to service more than one village often refuse to do their rounds without inducement. Across the country, services are poorly attended because they are poorly performed. The Greek Orthodox liturgy, founded on the mystery of faith, the power of church theatre and a musical tradition going back to ancient times, is today mumbled out of tune, in neon-lit domes. In short, people aren't getting their money's worth, and are in the process losing the beauty of their tradition. "

Sadie Vacantist said...

Amazing to think that in our English diocese, before the council, we were gifted thousands of Irish priests all of whose training was paid for by their families. Now it costs between 120 and 160k to train a student priest.

Patricius said...

"Now if we applied the same the criteria in the West "

I agree absolutely, Father. Why, when there are so many priests who foist appalling hymns on us at mass, are there so few willing to sing/chant those parts pertainung to them?

Just another mad Catholic said...


Although I love a good Missa Cantata I do worry that If ordained my vocal skills will confine me to Low Mass or MC duties :)


shocking! the mere Idea of accepting stipends either for Masses or sacraments (I'm told that it is customary to slip the Parish Priest a little something for Baptisms/funerals) is uncomfotable; when Priests wern't paid centrally then it was sort of ok but now Priests are paid (albiet not much) centrally it smells a little like simmony

Just another mad Catholic said...

PS Sadie Vacantist

Why should a Priest's family pay for his training? if that were the case then the Priesthood would be an unatainable dream for me (neither of my parents is keen on the idea and certainly cannot afford to help and I certainly cannot afford it).

You want a good Priest? he may be from a working class family who cannot afford to pay for all the necessities of seminary. Be prepared to put a few extra pounds in the collection basket.

diff said...

Should a vocation to the priesthood be decided only on ones ability to sing? I really have a hard time accepting that. One can belt out a bad hymn in or out of tune, it is still a dud hymn

Fr Ray Blake said...

In my diocese we are not paid "centrally", whatever that means.

The money in my pocket comes from Mass Offerings and what people give me at Christmas and Easter.

Dilly said...

Further to Shane's post - given that the Orthodox have married priests - the abuses and shortcomings described give the lie to the great whinge of the cafe catholics that a married priesthood is the answer to our problems

gemoftheocean said...

For one thing, Pope Paul VI wouldn't have been pope. And a lot of the others weren't so hot either.

Victor said...

A greek-catholic friend once told me: "When a deacon looses his singing voice, it is time to make him a priest. And when a priest looses his mind..."

Fr Ian said...

Since my ordination I have never been paid a penny for my ministry. As priests in the TAC we have had to get secular jobs or support ourselves. I think this is now the way forward for many coming into the Church. Pope Benedict XVII has indicated this, for those entering into the Catholic Church under the Apostolic Constitution - Anglicanorum coetibus.

B flat said...

My recollection of Mgr Ronald Knox's biography, is that he could not sing at all. He tried Benediction once in the chaplaincy at Oxford, never to do it again. His talents were different and not wasted in his service of the Church.
Beauty of voice as of features, surely cannot be sufficient or necessary qualification for the priesthood. What the people need are holy priests; God puts up with sinners as His unworthy servants.

Mike V said...

Dilly said "Further to Shane's post - given that the Orthodox have married priests - the abuses and shortcomings described give the lie to the great whinge of the cafe catholics that a married priesthood is the answer to our problems"

Perhaps it also gives the lie to some Catholic traditionalists who like to blame Vatican II on all the Cathoic Church's problems.

It would seem that the Orthodox are not immune from sex scandals, a vocations crisis, worldly priests etc. despite them not recognising Vatican II.

Not a priest but a person with a sense of propriety said...

This blog published an anonymous comment from
"Parish Priest with a Sense of Propriety"
Surely this is unlikely to be genuine so why display it when the blog claims to reject anonymous comments?
Perhaps the "priest" may wish to respond to this comment?

Whilst the so called "Watchers" are forbidden to interfere or provoke, this is the sort of issue that will arise on May 2
Thank you.

Auricularis said...

No comment from Anagnostis yet

Fr Ray Blake said...

Not a etc..
What are you on about?

Just another mad Catholic said...


Perhaps I am thinking of American dioceses where (I'm told) they are paid by the diocese.

I guess Fr. Wang was right when he wrote that this varies by diocese.

Matthew said...

The point at issue was whether a man with no singing voice ought to be accepted in the Orthodox Church as a candidate for the priesthood. While other qualities (devoutness, studiousness, intelligence &c) may be equally -- or more -- important, the priest is first of all presider at the Liturgy. In Orthodoxy there is no such thing as a "low Mass", so the ability to sing in tune is an essential qualification. QED.

"Not a priest..." reply said...

I am "on about" post Fat Ladies Dancing
Comment 6/4/11 12:44am
Parish Priest with a Sense of Propriety.

I repeat, this is an anonymous comment from an unlikely source unless the "parish priest" concerned would now wish to identify himself or use a more seemly pseudonym,
Thank you.

Fr Ray Blake said...

"Not a priest..."

Who are you?
Would you disclose your identity?

Aidan said...

In the the West, it would help if our seminarians were given proper singing lessons, and fully immersed in sung liturgy at seminary.