I am thankful for this very dedicated “good priest” for stepping out. His words do not need any introduction. I only ask other good priests, deacons, religious and seminarians to step out as well and even anonymously but still step out. We need to hear from a wider audience. Dr Nick
Dr Nick, in your blog you mentioned you want your leaders to know your pain, confusions, disappointments, anger. You also said you need the help and support of priests and religious to speak up and provide leadership. Many of us also have pain, disappointments, frustrations, and anger, not to mention exhaustion, fear, uncertainty, and so on. We need the help and support of the folks in the pews to help us give voice to our sense of what we have to do, all of us, together. All of us, laity and priests, are folks of the church trying in our own way to live the Gospel. We are not all that different.
I am a retired priest “in good standing”, retired both from the active duty Army as a Chaplain and from my diocese. I am fortunate enough to be able to help out in many parishes and hospitals throughout the diocese. The priests are exhausted and often worn down. The folks on the pews are wonderful and often long suffering. However, there are in many places the “temple police” who make pastors’ lives just that more difficult.
Also, there is quite a but of anecdotal evidence that some bishops have told their priests that if they say certain things or take part in certain activities they will lose their assignment and livelihood, or if retired they will lose their pension. Some of the pressures or requirements placed on them would be hard for the folks to believe. I understand their hesitancy to speak out. These pastors really love their people.
There are several elephants in the living room (not to be confused with the group in Detroit that does so much good) – coming Mass changes, style or actions of local bishop, women priests, mandatory celibacy.
I would suggest that perhaps the folks in the pews might make the effort to share their thoughts with their pastor and encourage their pastor to share his thoughts. Although, many pastors shared them, and then have found themselves in a lot of trouble. Also, many pastors feel the folks don’t know or don’t care what is going on, that they just want to come to Mass, do the right thing, and get on with their life.
I am taking a real chance putting this down in writing to someone I don’t know and know nothing about. For all I know this whole thing could be an elaborate ruse to promote your own unstated agenda. I hope not. What I have read in your blog seems worthwhile, sincere, a class act, and too good to be true. I came across your blog during the afternoon of a day I have spent prayerfully (I hope) and in study, writing, and reading about the situation, and preparing a homily for tomorrow. A number of wonderful and totally unexpected encounters and re-engagements have happened in the course of today. I hope this is something positive.
One thing that stayed with me in the Army since 2005 is Benedict XVI saying that, “everyone of us is the consequence of a thought in the mind of God, every one of us is important, every one of us is necessary, none of us is an accident”.