Monday, January 22, 2007

Look, he's ranting about religion!

There's a little problem in the Catholic church these days.

I know, the understatement of the century. But in this case I'm not talking about abuse. Well, not directly. There is a correlation but that's not what I'm referring to here.

What I'm talking about is the shortage of priests and the current lack of new seminarians signing up to become them. Because of this, we no longer have enough priests to serve all the churches in our community. Therefore, in an attempt to get more priest for the pound, our diocese has decided to "combine" several churches together so two (or more) parishes now have to share a single priest.

This is a problem.

Take a look at our parish's schedule for example. Here's a before and after chart of how two different churches in our neighborhood, St. Peter's and St. Paul's, have combined to be serviced by a single priest. Notice the relay race he now has to run every Sunday morning in order to serve mass at two separate churches.

Before schedule with 2 different priests:

St. Paul's

4:30 p.m. Saturday
8:30 a.m. Sunday
10:00 a.m. Sunday

St. Pete's

4:30 p.m. Saturday
8:30 a.m. Sunday
10:00 a.m. Sunday
After schedule with only 1 priest:

St. Paul's:
4:30 p.m. Saturday
St. Pete's: 7:30 a.m. Sunday
St. Paul's: 9:00 a.m. Sunday
St. Pete's: 10:45 a.m. Sunday

I suspect he'll have to trade his shiny black dress shoes for a pair of Nikes.

I'm sorry but this is crazy. Now instead of having a priest who is available to listen to his parishioners, lend a sympathetic ear to the grieving and distressed, and oversee a large school - we now have a man who is literally unreachable due to a ridiculous mass schedule and the time constraints associated with managing TWO churches and TWO schools. Every pastoral faculty he was granted when he became a priest has now been reduced to nothing more than a weekly orator who doesn't have time for even a quick chat.

What really gets my goat though is that this whole problem of priest shortage is completely curable. All the Catholic church has to do is simply allow married men to become priests, and BLAM!, problem solved.

You see, there's no shortage of men who want to become priests, there's only a shortage of men who are willing to take a vow of celibacy for the rest of their lives. That's a BIG difference. Studies have shown that if married men were allowed to become priests thousands of current deacons would sign up for the job immediately, and thousands more young men would join the seminary and gladly serve the church as a happily married husband and father. And as a bonus, this would also significantly reduce (and possibly solve) the problem of abuse and homosexuality that has been so prevalent
among the priesthood for so many years.

Sound good? You bet!

But guess what... it will never happen. At least not in our lifetime. That's because the Catholic church is incapable of changing its policies - at least not without mulling them over for a few centuries first.

I'm serious. Take this case for example:

The Vatican's Turn to Recant

Since the 1633 trial of Galileo, church relations with the world of science have often been strained. Galileo was put on trial by papal authorities for publishing a book defending Copernicus's theory that the earth revolves around the sun. Copernicus had died nearly a century before, and his "heliocentric" view of the solar system was already generally accepted by astronomers and even by some theologians. Nevertheless, the Vatican insisted Galileo stop discussing the idea; threatened by the Inquisition with torture, he recanted his views and spent the last nine years of his life under the equivalent of house arrest.

Read more

Considering that it took until 1992 (more than 3½ centuries later) before the Catholic church would recognize their ignorance and apologize for this event, I wouldn't hold my breath that allowing priests to be married is going to happen any time soon. Oh, and don't even bring up the topic of women priests. Or even more implausible, MARRIED women priests!

So, what's going to happen when we can't slice our current batch of priests any thinner?

Well, they could start closing the churches I suppose, which of course would effectively dissolve the Catholic faith.

Or, they could incorporate teleconferencing and churches could become a gathering place to watch our masses on the big screen. This is nothing new. It's already been done for years.


Sorry. Next idea anyone?


yellojkt said...

I have money riding on the Catholic Church allowing married priests long before women priests. Several Anglican/Episcopal parishes, which have married priests, have converted to Catholicism rather than recognize female ordination.

Maybe it's because women priests wouldn't be as likely to play with the little boys.

Sandy said...

Although we are not Catholic, Kurt and I have discussed this very topic at length.

We agree that A LOT of problems could be solved if married men could be priests...but we are also aware that the Church is a large organization that is generally opposed to change of any kind. Instead, like most big business, they choose to cover up problems by paying people for their pain and suffering, instead of looking to the future.

Anonymous said...

Allowing priests to be married in the Catholic church, would not only solve the problem of a lack of priests---it would make a BETTER priest. Why? Because he would be able to understand and relate much, much better to the problems that come up in married life, having had to deal with them himself!!! Am I right?

Heather said...

Good points!

Anonymous said...

Actually the shortage of priests in Duluth enabled the church to close 7 churches. This was done without a whimper. Currently we have 15 in this city of about 80-,000 people. Very few people walk to our church since they all have cars. Many of other denominations are having a tough time supporting a minister and his family with both small congregations and buildings. It is not unusual to see churches of 5, 10, or 15 thousand members today. The diocese of Duluth currently has 24 seminarians and the school is full. This is the first time this has happened in years. I think the problem could be solved if Decons were allowed to become priests. We have had a number of priests leave to get married, yet we allow married ministers to become priests. Don't forget married semenarians in the Greek Uniate can become priests. If I get to heaven, I will check this out with Pete.

Mooselet said...

Someone give an 'Amen' to Mom! She's 100% correct... which is why it will never happen. Or at least one reason. In the 400+ years since the English Reformation the Catholic church hasn't budged on the issue of married priests, even though the Anglican church has (Queen Elizabeth I was very opposed to her churchmen being married). You will see the closure of parishes first, which would have my late Irish Catholic grandparents spinning in their graves.

wayabetty said...

Well, you can always become a Buddhist. There's no need to go to mass really, and there's no confession. ;-)

Anonymous said...

The solution is actually quite simple. Next Sunday have everyone in the church be issued a squirt gun. Then anytime during the week if a family member is tempted by the Devil, just give him a big ol' blast in the eye with some holy water. This should protect his soul until next Sunday when he can reload at the baptismal fount. Glad I could help.

Jenn said...

not to be snarky but you could have put up a pic of those worth hearing, like Billy Graham, Chuck Smith or T.D. Jakes.

I believe that if a parishioner can marry, and serve God whole-heartedly, why can't priests? It's like saying you can't do a job because you are married. I guess it depends who you are married to. hehe.

Even in the Bible (I Cor 7), Paul speaks 'be as I am' but marry because it's better than burning with lust. (EmmaSometimes paraphrased)

on that note, do you think, perhaps, of the possibility that the decline in the Catholic church, whether priest or parishioner, is due to the numerous lawsuits that are in the news on a regular basis? I have never been to a Catholic Mass, not being Catholic, but if a person is seeking God, it's all good.

Whether it's a scandalous lawsuit or TV evangelism gone very bad, it's those few that end up tainting the whole. Don't you think?