Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Curia: Not a Job I Would Want
I was amused that one blogger had put up a scene from 'Full Metal Jacket' to illustrate the Holy Father's address to the Curia. I know that the Holy Father was actually offering an examination of conscience, and like all these things, first and foremost it is an examination of the authors conscience.
The problem is already middle ranking clergy are leaving Rome, or begging their bishops to apply to the Holy Father for their release. Many have already left, to the point where some dicasteries are drastically undermanned, to the point of not working effectively. Things, like dispensation which took a couple of months to process, can now take well over a year.
Morale in Curia is at an all time low, it was never very high. There were certainly some priests, and bishops too, who would have given their eye-teeth for a job in the Curia, and seen it as way to promotion and power, or of pursuing and academic interest, of those I have known that is not the majority, certainly there is often a detachment from parish life, but that is the nature of the job, it happens with priests (and bishops) and especially laymen and women in diocesan Curias.
One problem is going to be anyone dealing with the Curia, from a lay women seeking an annulment, to bishop asking for clarification, to a foreign State, will probably share the Pope's view that everyone working there is 'crap' and a looser.
A curial friend, who I think is quite saintly, once sent me his timetable, he lives in one of the clergy houses near St Peter's so unless there is Papal Mass or audience that day, that is where he says Mass. Like most of the younger clergy in the EF, 'it suits a contemplative life, and besides the boys prefer it, if one of them serves my Mass.' He means the Maltese minor seminarians who assist in the sacristy, and if you are fortunate will serve your Mass.
Mass in St Peter's followed by thanksgiving 7am
Breakfast on the way to the office 8am
Start work 8.30am
Lunch 1pm but often that involves a meeting, often he works straight through, some (older) clergy take a siesta until 3.30
Return to Office at 4pm
Return home for Supper at 8pm
Read/study, very occasionally go out with friends
Prayer/spiritual reading 10pm
He does this 5 days a week, Saturday is the same except the office closes at 1pm
Sunday is day to catch up on sleep, and meet friends, occasionally pilgrims, if needed, he says Mass in Rome parish, he is not needed that often. He said once he had gone six months without saying Mass with a congregation. Apart from holy days he does this for 11 months of the year. Rome tends to close down for August and he returns to his home to stay with his family, and supply in his home diocese.
What struck me was the sheer boredom of his life, and the loneliness too. His salary I think is about 4500 euros a year, it is not enough to live well in Rome, most of it goes on books, travel entertaining visiting clergy and clothes, 'the Prefect insists we look smart!'. When we eat together as he insist on paying his share its normally a cheapish pizzeria, it is embarrassing he says when visitors expect him to pay for their meal too, he's by nature generous and always offers to do that, sometimes he gets caught out. He is incredibly disciplined, he says if he is not it would be so very easy to get depressed, or drink or worst as some of his confreres do.
I've asked him why he doesn't do some pastoral work in Rome, he says most parishes only really want Italians, 'there are lots of them'. He says he does his best to make friends with homeless but really there is little time.
Say a prayer for those in Curia, it is not a job I or most priests would want. At the moment it seems like a job from hell.
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