Roll up your sleeves & open your mind ~ Reflections on rebuilding the church Part I

The next three or four articles are a series in which I will quote an Arch Bishop then address his writings with my thoughts.  I’d love a one on one but the truth is, even if that were offered – I can better formulate my thoughts and facts sitting here with my Father.

I will show his exact words from a publication written in October but rather than sharing his name, quotation marks will be all that indicates his words. 

This issue at hand currently is pretty much a national/worldwide issue.  There is a shortage of Priests.  Much thought (money) and time has been going into pastoral planning.  There are answers, ones the gentlemen at the top appear to take issue with really contemplating.

“In the year 1965, there were almost 46 million Catholics in the United States served by a total of 58,632 priests. Today, there are over 70 million Catholics with fewer than 38,000 priests whose average age is increasing rapidly. In 1965, there were 535 active priests in the Archdiocese of ___. As of 2015, there were 186, a decrease of 65 percent. This sobering number is one of the reasons why our archdiocese has begun a process of pastoral planning.”

My thought on this is – why so long fellas?  Poor planning and lack of ability to really look this over and take on … change?  I think the answer to this is a resounding yes.

“Jesus says: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Mt 9:37f, Lk 10:2). Although Jesus often drew great crowds, his mission, by worldly standards, was not a success. Rather, to all appearances it ended in ignominy and failure. Yet Jesus knew that the seeds of the kingdom he had planted in human hearts would bear fruit once his earthly mission was accomplished.”

Frankly, I am not quite sure why one would suggest an apparent failure in the work of Jesus and the original 12.  God had His plan, He knew what He was doing.  Clearly.  I am sure I must be misunderstanding the intent of that statement. 

Regardless – something big is being overlooked in this statement.

“And in the Gospel according to John, Jesus says: “I tell you, lift up your eyes and see how the fields are already white for harvest” (4:35). If you want the truth of these words to be miraculously revealed before your very eyes, go stand on the altar platform at a World Youth Day, most recently in Poland, and see what a million young people at Mass looks like. The fields are white for harvest.”

If that’s the way you look at it. There is a huge difference in the number of faithful worshiping God and wishing to see the Pope, and the number of Priests.  In fact a quick google search shows the number of men in seminaries as declining – rapidly in Poland

In 2015, 3,571 seminarians were preparing for the priesthood,

in 1990 – 8,122, in 1998 – 6,673,

in 2002 – 6,737,

and in 2006 – 6,038.

In 2015/2016, 748 candidates to the priesthood entered seminaries, which year-on-year was 7% less in diocesan seminaries and 2% less in seminaries of religious orders.”

Pope in Poland Press Center

“In the Catholic Church  {United States} , the total number of priests has declined from 58,534 in 1981

to 52,227 in 1991,

45,713 in 2001 and 37,192 in 2015 (a 36 percent loss between 1981 and 2016).

Requirements for celibacy, poverty and obedience may be factors. In every other group, including denominations in which membership has declined (e.g., the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran churches), the total number of clergy has increased.[5]”

Priest shortage in the Catholic Church

This is not going to solve itself.  Closing and reorganizing Parishes is not a solution, it is merely a band-aid.  If memory serves me correctly, a vast majority of Catholics did not even participate in the last questionnaire given out by my local archdiocese.  An overall look at Christianity needs to be embraced and a shift to this decade needs to take place.  Squeaky wheels may move but a good majority of those squeaky wheels also rust and sit useless in junkyard across the world.

So – what to do?

Roll up your sleeves, unbutton your collar, yank your hair up in a pony tail (me) :)  and get to work.

We need to start with a really open and honest look at the Celibacy requirement of the Roman Catholic Church.  This is a “rule” of sorts, not law, not doctrine.  No disrespect intended – but it has outlived it’s purpose, of which many are uncertain to begin with.  St. Paul’s idea that Jesus was returning -> 2,000 years ago is the common reply and that is by educated Roman Catholics, not just me.  Many also recognize this was set in place to deal with greedy clergy of historic times who owned property, handed this down to their offspring etc.  Quite unlike Jesus Christ.  Perhaps with those ancient ideas??? But no.  I’m not buying it.  Why?  It is absolutely not what Jesus taught – the foundation He built.

Man intervened and messed this all up.  It’s time to clean up, and truly repair lives – no more band-aids!

Sleeves rolled up yet? 

Part II soon to follow . . . (this evening).

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