Thursday, June 2, 2011


This past week I had a Mass at an away parish. There was some things that took place there that I found disturbing – in a liturgical and ministerial sense. So I sit here a few days later and wonder: Do I write a letter to the priest and let him know what goes on in his absence? Chances are he knows. They were so outrageous that SOMEBODY has had to have said something over the years.

The first day I wanted to send a scathing letter. But I knew this would only merit ill feelings and circular file filing. So I waited a day to cool off.

The second day I wanted to divorce my passions from the letter and simply state facts. But he knows. I might upset his night sleep one night but that would pass.

The third day I spent time thinking about why they priest would have done things the way he did. He has some health problems. This might be his way of coping – though I still find it inappropriate.

The fourth day I thought of dropping it but now wonder if it is my Christian duty to say something to a fellow priest and for the health of the parish.

This, the fifth day, I realize I do not have all the answers and cannot save the world (ooooh! Sin of pride.) I still think that I should write but invite the priest to consider some things that might make his life easier and benefit his parish at the same time – a friendly word of advice that he could choose to ignore but friendly enough that if he wanted to talk there would be no antagonism (hopefully) between us.

So now I wonder – do I wait and see what wisdom comes from tomorrow?


Adoro said...

At some point you have to make a decision. And if you consider the fact that you're talking about direct harm to SOULS here because of liturgical abuse - that means you have to do SOMETHING. You are in a position to do so, and may be one of the ONLY people in a position to do so, both because you are a priest and because you know how to approach these things with true charity.

As one of my profs used to say, "What is the most loving thing". (Loving accordin ot God's definition, not warm fuzzy emotion.)

It's a hard answer, but it's the right one.

Adoro said...

Sorry, had another thought: instead of writing a letter, why not invite him out for coffee or find some other social way of speaking with him? That way you're building a relationship which also gives you a better entrance into handling the problem. And...conversation ensues as opposed to the frustrating task of being ignored and then fussing over it anyway - this isn't going to go away.

melody said...

Please do reach out to him. You know how to do it charitably, and you will, and it aught to be done. Just think of all the lay people he ministers to who would like to see a change. They wonder what to do...

"I think I am obligated to say something."
"But he already KNOWS."
"He knows but something still needs to be said out of love for God, for the priest and for his people."
"But he will be upset... this is my parish and I do not want conflict."
"I'll be labeled as a troublemaker."
"If I choose to fight this battle, I will lose all future credibility or positive influence."
"He'll think I'm a old-fashioned jerk."
"I'll be labeled 'pre-Vatican II' and ridiculed."
"I'll have to change parishes if he's angry."
"I wonder if anyone else has said anything."
"Should I tell the bishop? No... then I'll be labeled as a diocesan troublemaker!"
"I know we're not supposed to parish shop but..."
"I'll just keep my mouth shut and pray."

Perhaps he'll be annoyed with you, Father, but it is good to have it come from a fellow priest. You're right that somebody has to have said something over the years. And it was probably stressful for them and perhaps resulted in loss (relationship with their pastor and others, etc). Do it for those people, eh? God bless you.

Anonymous said...

This is something only the Holy Spirit can best answer, but if it is or becomes a conscience matter for you, then perhaps you could simply ask him to help you understand why this or that is alright for *some* priests to let happen. If, however, he is close to retirement or transfer, I would not say anything. Time and change are great doctors.

The.Baroness.Von.Korf said...

I'm personally one of those parishioners who has a two chance policy for both the parishioners and for a priest. If I see liturgical abuses occurring I first write the pastor (Expecting a response), and then if nothing changes I talk to the priest after mass and explain how and why what I saw disturbs me. It's one thing if they (the parishioners of the parish) don't know better but it's the paster's obligation to teach them better. If it's the priest's abuses I make it known that some of the lay know the difference and don't appreciate it. I've only had to write the bishop of my diocese once because I got a bad response from a priest of (Well I know I'm not following the Roman Cannon but I think it's better my way). You must always be charitable and not prideful but if more good priests don't stand up and say something where will our church go? We already have parishioners leaving the church in droves because they think one church is as good as another. They don't realize we are the One Truth Faith. Please don't let the opportunity pass you by. I'm one of those parishioners that will drive the 30 miles one way to find a liturgically sound mass to attend, most are not willing to do so, while others don't know better and would rather just drive a mile from home to the "First Baptists Mormon Evangelical reform Church of Heaven".

MJ said...

" I still think that I should write but invite the priest to consider some things that might make his life easier and benefit his parish at the same time"
I,too, think that you should address the problems but with the approach that you mention above. That way you are not attacking the priest but giving "advice" that is for his benefit and the benefit of his parish.
I think liturgical abuses lead parishioners to believe that if my pastor can do what he feels is a better way even if doesn't follow church teachings then why can't I?

Beth Lemer said...


honestly, when I had a fellow friend majorly screwing up in the most catholic way (priest wise), after alot of pondering for too long of a time, in the end, you have to realize, that doing the right thing, is always the hardest thing to do.

Do the right thing. Usually its the hardest thing to do.

Beate said...

Gosh - as a parishioner in a parish rife with abuses, this struck close to home. I'll pray for you but please pray for me.