Dissenting Priests

This article from the New York Times trumpets the news that Catholic priests worldwide are rebelling against Vatican teaching forbidding women from being ordained. Guess what? The ‘rebellion’ consists of about 150 priests in the US and about 300 in Austria and some in Australia. Errr, that would be what percentage of the 400-500,000 priests worldwide? I’m sure the Vatican is extremely worried.

The galling thing about this push for women priests is that it comes from the very men who have been engineering an artificial crisis in the priesthood for the last few decades. When I was in England I visited different parishes every weekend and hob nobbed with the priests. They told me how bishops and seminary rectors would regularly reject young men because they were ‘rigid’ (code for orthodox) My own bishop rejected all convert clergy from the Church of England–even the celibates. Others spoke of how ‘England had too many priests’ and compared the situation to Peru where one priest covers a territory the size of Scotland and the ‘core communities’ are governed by the people with a ‘catechist’ in charge. They thought this was a wonderful thing and wanted to move their own dioceses to that ‘model of ministry’.

Why was that?  So that by engineering a crisis in vocations they hoped to force Rome to sanction the ordination of married men and women. I wish I were exaggerating, but they told me this themselves. What they wanted was a ‘priest’s house’ for six or seven priests to live together and serve a whole deanery and the parishes would be led by ‘lay catechists’ who (of course) would be male or female. The lay catechists would determine the wishes of the people of God democratically and tell the priest what to do. In other words, “If Rome won’t let us have women priests we’d rather have no priests at all.”

I always found this hilarious and terrifying. The Bishops and high ranking clergy who thought this was so wonderful obviously had no experience of Protestant congregationalism with its in fighting, bickering and power struggles amongst the laity. Furthermore, they had no plan for how these lay leaders would be educated and trained, much less paid.

Finally, they had no clue how the whole thing could backfire against their own liberal ideals. What would they do when St. Hilda’s parish was taken over by ‘lay leadership’ who turned out to be members of some exclusive new ecclesial movement? What would happen when the ‘lay leadership’ turned out to be a group of Duane Mandible-like Latin Mass conspiracy nuts? What would happen when a the local charismatic ladies took over? You wanted lay women to be leaders. Did you really want that sort of lay woman? How would they get rid of them? Had they any recourse in canon law? Did any of these lay people take vows of obedience to their bishop?

It’s a nightmare scenario and the (now aging) seventies priests and bishops are sleep walking into it with blissful expressions on their faces singing Kumbayah.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16857516830718245425 Ailredo

    I'm really concerned about the situation of our Church. Why some of our Bishops are doing things so wrong? What means for them the word 'obedience'? I see a Pope restoring the Traditon (that some evil people wanted to threw to the rubbish bin since Vatican II), promoting the union with the Orthodox Church, but some of our shepherds are trying to spread the sheep. We need to pray. We need to claim. It's intolerable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10503510474554718305 Just another mad Catholic

    7 Priests to a DEANERY? how on earth would that work? A good number of the parishes in the Clifton Diocese are staffed by religious and I'm told that if the Benedictines pulled out of Belmont Abbey (Heredord UK) then the Archdiocese of Cardiff would be in serious trouble.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11740482509910163332 Gail F

    This is so sad. I went to the screening of a new film about women priests today ("Pink Smoke Over the Vatican," I kid you not — look it up) and, while many of them come across as kindly and a little batty, these folks are for completely dismantling the entire church. They come right out of the social justice movement and they see it as a social justice issue. Fr. Bourgeois is practically the star of the movie (see the trailer at the official web site) and the woman in it who went to the Lexington ordination dressed as a priest and demanding to be ordained is one of his students. He preached at the "ordination" she was part of. In the film he says he would give up his work and his pension rather than deny what is right, but he is still comfortably in Maryknoll.The NYT piece does not give any information about the petition or name any of the signers. A quick google search turns up an online petition that got about 3,600 signatures — maybe they signed that. It's pretty easy to sign an online petition.Here is a link to a blog post I wrote about the film:http://sonrisemorningshow.blogspot.com/2011/07/pink-smoke-screen.html

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09344181644293746758 JBQ

    If there is no sin, then this all makes sense. Malachi Martin predicted everything.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00403184829256955768 Victoria

    A number of parishes in Germany have the situation with a lay person in charge of the parish and a priest doing the rounds confecting the Eucharist and leaving to confect the Eucharist at another church – talk about a sacramental vending machine!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13388899986377479033 torculus

    It is sickening to hear, yet again, about the arrogance of clergy who promote women's ordination and who actively undermine the very Church they are ordained to selflessly serve. The witnesses with whom I've spoken over the years, i.e., faithful clergy and – two decades ago in our then pagan Canadian diocese – those rejected for consideration for seminary because they were deemed too "conservative", support your observations Father D. Our former bishop did similarly advocate for lay led parishes and drew to himself a cadre of radical misfits bent on undermining Holy Mother Church. He pushed aside faithful, balanced men who earnestly desired to serve Holy Mother Church. Thankfully, we have a good bishop now who loves the Church and a few good pastors who model well the Good Shepherd with zeal and can recognize "the call" in others. Our priestly ranks are slowly growing. The call to parents to foster vocations in the home is being heard.We need to pray that the Holy Spirit will deliver us from wicked men who would deprive us of good and holy priests. We need more bishops like Archbishop Chaput who will cooperate with the Holy Spirit to till the soil and nurture a good harvest for the Church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00013650127156997140 Geoffrey

    Today a couple of people from our parish, lead by a lady who is strongly affiliated with the Divine Will devotion, called out to God on behalf of Australia beseeching him to protect marriage. We prayed for our pastors, that our Lord would stir up within them once more the zeal which first brought them to become priests and to proclaim the truth fearlessly. Whinging accomplishes nothing. Prayer gets things done!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11740482509910163332 Gail F

    I love that word "whinging"! We do not have that in the states.Again, let me say that these people really do want to dismantle the church. They don't just want women to be priests but keep everything else the same. They want an "inclusive church" where everyone can have all the sacraments and where everyone votes on everything, and where they make up the liturgies to suit themselves. They do not want to join other churches that already have this — they want to make the Catholic church into this. It is not a benign movement, although it may be a relatively short-lived one (most of the movers and shakers seem to be over 70). In the film I saw, Fr. Bourgeois remarks that in the past "we probably would have been burned at the stake." Everyone laughed but I think he has a point. In the past people would have realized that this was bad and dangerous stuff. I am not for burning anyone at the stake, but call a spade a spade. This is BAD.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07780326836452864455 Brother Charles

    "hilarious and terrifying" sums up the feeling sometimes.Finally, they had no clue how the whole thing could backfire against their own liberal ideals. What would they do when St. Hilda's parish was taken over by 'lay leadership' who turned out to be members of some exclusive new ecclesial movement?The same happens in religious formation. Everyone is happy to encourage you to have your 'voice' until you have some incorrect opinion and expose the standard liberal conceit that any thoughtful and sensible person, given enough education and time for reflection, will come around to thinking in line with NCR.Thanks for the encouraging post!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487748842744745860 StevieD

    I have just read about something called Bland's law formulated by a director of both commercial and charitable organisations. This states that "the amount of backbiting, infighting and general skullduggery in an organisation is in direct proportion to the nobility of its goals". Seems to be true!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05496819581817926605 JFM

    As we would say about any family, The Father needs do something, or those kids will run wild. That applies in spades here. Despite a few signs of life, Church discipline seems dormant. Maybe in the Bad Old Days it used to be far too harsh–obviously now it is the reverse. You can apparently just give the defined orthodoxy the finger… Even the woman who got censured still teaches and publishes with the blessing of the clergy and the CTS, and is now simply better known than before… Incredible.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04488655902681432534 BurgoFitzgerald

    I don't want to have my voice heard. I don't need to have my voice heard. I hear my voice all day long, and that is why I have no peace. I want to hear God's voice for a change. That is why I go to Mass. If I were to go to a Mass and see a female priest upon the altar, I would know that I was in just another place that caved in to the wants and demands of spoiled, self-centred, arrogant children. I am a woman under the age of 40 before anyone cries, "Ancient Misogynist!"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02165595356974295815 Sonja

    BurgoFitzgerald,I love your comment!!!! As a midforties convertwoman I couldn't agree more.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18377183021222847832 Bob Reich, Jr.

    There is a role for women who want to be leaders in the Catholic church. They are called "nuns". My great Aunt (Sister Mary Rose) was one and it is a terrible tragedy that their ranks are so small these days that you actually have to SEEK them out to find them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    BurgoFitzgerald,Amen, I am in my 20's and oppose women priests. Only Catholics and Orthodox, have a priesthood, sacraments, Mass etc. The reformation churches threw it all out. So, these people can start their own church, instead of destroying ours.Savvy

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09191243600729346776 Deacon Bill

    Great post. I wish I had greater insight into the history of the last 50 years and how these issues developed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00159541603126407072 Bernard Brandt

    Dear Fr. L (Father, bless):While the particular pustule of the 150+ priests which you observe is troublesome, I believe that it is a symptom of a greater malaise.The malaise of which I write is that for the past 40+ years, most bishops and priests have failed and refused to follow the actual teachings of the Second Vatican Council, and have instead (in the words of George Orwell), 'sold their birthright for a pot of message'.To give but one example of this failure, in Optatam Totius, the Council Fathers stated that in the education of priests (and presumably, bishops), candidates were to be well versed in Latin, encouraged to learn the languages of Scripture and Tradition (which, the last time I checked, consisted of Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and Coptic), have the educational prerequisites of professionals in their country (professionals being those going on to careers in law, medicine or philosophy), and a seminary curriculum of at least two years in philosophy and four years of theology.My experience with most RC priests has been that very few of them have even nodding acquaintance with the above prerequisites.I have also found that priestly and episcopal obedience (or at the very least, compliance) with such Council documents as Musicam Sacram, Dei Verbum and Sacrosanctum Concilium has been equally lacking.Which leads me to my question: If most priest and bishops do not comply with even basic requirements of the Council Documents of the Second Vatican Council, and show that they are elaborately ignorant of the teachings of the earlier councils, why should I listen to THEM?I have not found any good answer to that question, save to become an Eastern Catholic, where at least the priests and bishops know more about theology than I do. I fear that this option is not available to most RCs, or at least, not acceptable to them.Hoping that I might find some answer to this question, which has been troubling me for years, I amVery truly yours,Bernard Brandt

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05118747216132040457 Ismael

    Call me 'heavy-handed' but I'd issue and immediate excommunication for the dissenting priests and bishops. These people are not worthy of the sacrament of ordination they received and they should be reprimanded to make people understand that the Church will not tolerate an half-baked pseudo-protestant Church.More important the people in the parishes should demand the excommunication of these priests and bishops.If these priests and Bishops want their own Church with 'women-priests' and other 'amenities'… FINE, then just form a schism (I am sure it’s better losing them than keeping them anyway) and call yourself 'Reformed' or something… they should just stop refer themselves as 'Catholic' though.Am I too harsh? Perhaps, but sometimes you need to draw the line.