When I was in the seminary there were guys who dreamed (with the best of intentions) of one day being a bishop. My biggest dream was one day becoming a pastor of (what is now becoming extinct) a tiny, ethnic parish off in the corner of the diocese that most of the rest of the diocese forgot about. Things didn’t exactly turn out that way (for which I am grateful) but I am more glad than ever not to be a bishop.
Of course we never get the whole story, but in the paper today a bishop was accused of not removing a priest from ministry because of an accusation. According to the diocese the cases were immediately reported to the Child Protection Service (who would not, for purposes of confidentiality, respond). Apparently they did not substantiate the claims though. So what is the bishop to do? Remove the priest from service because of what the government considers a non-substantiated claim? Or should he get in the practice of remove anybody from any position because of any report? He will lose either way.
Maybe it is a situation that the Church brought on herself. And undoubtedly we still have a lot of change to bring about before things become better.
However, that a does not mean that every change is always good or warranted. Algirdas G. Nastvytis wrote in his Letter to the Editor in the August 25th Pain Dealer that “the main problem is priestly celibacy. It’s been a festering wound for 1,000 years since it was required.” He does not offer any clue as to what the problem is. Does celibacy lead to pedophilia? Really? All we have to do is allow marriage in the Church and there will be no more cheating on vows, no more abuse of pornography, no more child abuse? Clearly he is correct because we see none of these things in marriage (he said with a hint of irony.)
And, as a long time reader pointed out, does Mr. Nasvytis want to be the first to offer one of his daughters in marriage to man who has a tendency toward these problems to see if that would stem his desires? I am willing to bet not. This is not a solution and it was not well thought out - if at all.
“We also need to do away with professional clergy living in ivory towers. A reasonably intelligent male member of the Church . . . who can read and memorize, ‘This is my body; this is my blood,’ should be ordained as a priest.” Mr. Nasvytis has not done much work in history to find out why we make priests go to school - because of the dangerous things that can come of a man saying, proclaiming and teaching thing that cause harm and division within the Body of Christ.
“Why can’t Joe the plumber, Al the carpenter or Ed the lawyer say Mass?” He can. He does. Many of the men going through the seminary are second career men. In our diocese alone they have been accountants, artists, retailers, sportsmen, owners of businesses, teachers and in one case a widowed father and from many other backgrounds. They didn’t come from the planet Mars or were birthed from a university. The mystique is largely blows once someone makes a friend of a priest. My sister just last week said she used to put priests on a pedestal until she understood that they could be baby brothers.
We have a mess on our hands and much has been done to correct it. More can and should be done and quickly. But it must also be well thought out and effective or it just adds to the problem.