Retired Priest speaks anonymously

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”.

Take care.


3 Responses to Retired Priest speaks anonymously

  1. anne southwood says:

    I love the closing used by this retired priest. It reminds me of the Jeremiah 1:5 line “before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
    We need to go to places like this for a spirituality to help weather what is going on right now.
    It does bother me a bit that many pastors don’t believe the people in their pews know what is going on. Maybe so, but like a child feeling tension between parents, they need to feel free to question and articulate fears. We’ve been “infantalized” and “protected” too long. I’d rather talk to a good priest to his face than behind his back.
    Meanwhile, the fact that Catholics are “underserved” is one elephant we all need to face. Yes, pew people will accept a lot – including foreign priests they can’t understand and the common lack of breaking open the word with a good homily. Some of the older priests in my area won’t let a deacon do a homily. For heavens’ sake, why not let a woman do a reflection and connect to the other half of the human race more directly. There are female scripture scholars well able to do this.
    A proportion of older Catholics say nothing because they just want to do their duty on Sunday morning and feel good, but others are walking out. My diocese is now using the figure of 17%
    of registered Catholics who show up in Church. Pew forum studies insist they leave because their spiritual needs are not being met.

  2. Jane Merchantf says:

    I feel for this priest, and others like him who have told me they feel as he does. More bishops are starting to speak out against Clericalism, saying it must go, it’s not Christ-like. Priests are in a different spot. A bad bishop can make their lives difficult, so they keep their head down, serve their people, and speak “off the record.” However, that must change, and here and there it is. VOTF myst locate and connect with these good priests, know who they are. The time will come when we can help each other — to KFCC. It’s coming…

  3. George F. Wynne says:

    I recognize the retired Priests dilemna. I am a resigned priest for 40 years and I had to make a few Prophetic choices. My ultimate choice was not based on fear, church opinion or pension concerns. It was and is based on The Gospel of Christ, and to thine own self be true.
    Millions are leaving the Institution; Remember, you were not ordained to serve The Institutional Church, but to serve The Gospel of Christ. Christ called you to live in Truth and He is the Way. Continue to search. Peace to you.

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