As a presbyterate we are about to embark on a planning session to decide what we are going to do about the number of parishes we have vs the number of priest we will have in the future. There will be those who stand up and give an imploring speech that we should have married priests, female priests, and so forth. Whether I agree or not, these things are not going to change within the next couple of years and we need to start taking control over those areas in which we can have some immediate effect.
Another topic that will come up (again) is that priests should be relieved of all “business” responsibilities. They should be able just to focus on sacraments (and the accompanying paperwork) and leave everything else to lay people. That way the priests are freed up to do more of what priests are ordained to do and lay folks can take a stronger leadership role in the Church.
The only problem with this model is that it is not what Vatican II envisioned. It would require more than changing the policies of a diocese, it would involve reworking international canon law, Church teaching, and the documents of Vatican II. When a Catholic is baptized, he is also anointed priest, prophet, and king. When a priest is ordained, it is understood that he too will fulfill all of these roles. Administration is not just an extra tacked on to being a priest, it is a part of who he is called to be. As “Father” and “pastor,” he is called to this role as much as is a father of a household is called to help manage the affairs of the family.
A dad, ideally, not only supports his family, but offers himself in love, teaches, leads, and brings to Christ. When one of these are not present we usually see a path to divorce or the result of divorce. So it is with the Father of a parish. These are his roles and so our focus on solving our problems will have to lie elsewhere.