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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Time To Speak – And Act

Wednesday, 13 April 2011 21:31

A thought provoking article by Australian Priest Eric Hodgens published on his blog and in The Swag, magazine of the National Council of Priests of Australia

A large section of Catholic priests are at odds with the public stance of the Church. The issues which disturb them include:
  • the displacement of the main game of spreading a message of life, hope, compassion and forgiveness by overstressing moral issues;
  • foreclosing on  moral issues which need revisiting - e.g. contraception, IVF, divorce, homosexuality;
  • the personality cult of the pope to heroic dimensions under John Paul II, but continued with Benedict XVI;
  • World Youth Days which feed the personality cult of the pope to the detriment of the local church and which have not reversed the flow of youth from the Church;
  • the incessant condemnations of secularism and relativism;
  • the non-consultative appointment of unsuitable and unwanted men to the office of bishop;
  • the autocratic, non-consultative management style of most bishops and their uncritical submission to Rome;
  • the promotion of reactionary, authoritarian and fundamentalist movements such as Opus Dei, Legionaries of Christ, Heralds of the Gospel, Communione e Liberatione as real, effective responses to the challenge of faith in a secular world;
  • the tendency to scriptural fundamentalism which appears in Roman documents;
  • the non-consultative and politically motivated superimposition of a new, defective translation of the liturgy. This one has the potential of sparking a people-power revolt as a growing parade of liturgical experts list the bad policy and the abuses still being perpetrated under its banner.
The discomfort these priests feel ranges from embarrassment to outright disagreement.
Yet, we priests do not speak up much. Why?

We were trained not to speak up. In our earlier years we were afraid to speak up because the bishop was too awesome a figure. The rank gradient was steep. Remember “My Lord”. Remember genuflecting and kissing the ring. And bishops learned the trick of controlling the pack by showing anger or displeasure at the first sign of disagreement.

We were also trained to put the Church institution first. Rocking the boat in public was disloyalty and self-aggrandisement.

More recently priests worked out that it was useless to talk up anyway. Bishops generally were impervious to criticism, especially on issues of Roman policy. The Diocesan Council of Priests became a waste of time in most dioceses. So, why waste your psychological energy? Just go back to your parish and do your own thing.

Finally, there was always the promise of obedience which imitated the antique oath of fealty to the liege lord. “Do you promise obedience and respect to me and my successors?” Priests took this literally and seriously.

This policy will no longer do. It is time to speak up and to act. The matter us urgent. Why?

Read on at the Catholic View
Read George Cardinal Pell's response

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