Actively working toward priestless parishes

Actively working toward priestless parishes

What if the decline in the number of priests available for parish assignments in certain dioceses is what they really want? In Los Angeles, they’re preparing with gusto for the day when parishes are led by laypeople. Most often that means women. In fewer cases, it means married deacons. It all adds up to making people more comfortable with women and married men in parish leadership, turning the priest into a sacramental technician, just one among many ministers in a parish, rather than a spiritual father and shepherd.

Locally, results of the survey, completed June 1, favored appointing nonclerical parish life directors to handle the business of the church, leaving the ordained to celebrate Mass and administer sacraments.

“PLDs” could be men and women from religious orders or trained laity. Four Southern California churches are now run by these directors. Though there is some fear that the Vatican would object, Wilkerson said canon law allows for lay parish directors. “It could be a deacon, a woman religious (nuns) or laymen and -women,” Wilkerson said. “They must have all the academic requirements - probably a master’s in religious studies or theology. “If you’re going to lead a parish, you need to know canon law, Scripture, the whole nine yards. They would be leaders.”

It says something that this is the step they’re taking. And look at the myths they’re perpetuating, that it’s natural for the priesthood to be composed of gay men: “When the priesthood was thriving, she said, a large contingent was gay. It was an honorable life for a man for whom marriage wasn’t an option.” Yet in the paragraph before, a priest is saying that the key to increasing vocations is making the priesthood appealing to young men. And this being Los Angeles, the priest betrays the agenda:

That means priests must make the priesthood look appealing as a calling and lifestyle, parents must be willing to nurture vocations in their sons - and perhaps, someday, their daughters - and Catholics must step back from society’s demands and lead more spiritually fulfilling lives, he said.

If I’m a healthy young man in Los Angeles, why would I even consider a vocation that would place be in close proximity with a largely homosexual population of priests who openly dissent from the Church’s teachings. It is an unhealthy environment for any institution.

Imagine if the US Marine Corps was full of fat, lazy slobs who openly spoke of the day when they could become pacifists. What would that do to recruiting and morale? What would that do to their effectiveness? That’s the equivalent here.

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  • She also advocates even greater involvement for deacons and lay people, who for years have been performing some duties of the priesthood – distributing communion, hearing confessions, performing weddings and delivering sermons.

    Deacons “hear confessions?”

  • I was in Malaysia a few years ago when Sunday Mass was cancelled for the entire country. It seems the bishop summoned all of the priests from their parishes to a weekend meeting, leaving no one behind to say Mass. Deacons or laymen did, however, conduct services at each church, which included all the usual prayers, a homily, hymns and distribution of Communion. In fact, the pseudo-Mass seemed to have everything except the most important element: the consecration. The service I attended was very well done, but in my mind there was no comparison between it and a “real” Mass!

  • Is there some push toward this in Boston too?  St. John’s Seminary has been advertising a program for Lay Ecclesial Ministers.

  • Here’s something practical everyone here can do about the priestless Sunday thing . . .

    Don’t join the complaining push for more communion services. Because that’s what we’re talking about—a communion service on Sunday.

    Sorry to say, too many Catholics don’t really understand the difference between a communion service and the Mass. Too often, folks will say, “Father, how about more communion services?” And it will be good, faithful folks, daily communicants, who will ask.

    When priests are spread thin, the temptation will be to schedule those communion services, and many of the best people will be for this. (And I’m not saying communion services, per se, are bad.)

    But what is obscured is the irreplaceable reality of the Mass; and a priest covering two or three parishes might do well to say, “instead of a communion service, we can have Mass over here—or you can have the liturgy of the hours, or the rosary, there.”

    There will be a temptation to say, “the priest is lazy” (because he won’t offer two or three daily Masses, which he’s actually supposed to avoid doing, per Canon Law), or he doesn’t love the Eucharist (because if he did, he’d have more communion services), etc.

    To be very blunt: the kind of comments it seems I see all the time in the Catholic blogosphere, indeed—dare I say it?—here.

  • I would agree with all of the above. The ‘vocations crisis’ and SCAP are typical of the mindset of the 60’s revolution – declare a crisis, propose a solution that actually creates the crisis and then use that to slide in your agenda. Our most liberal province here in Australia is Queensland – the provincial seminary has less than five seminarians for the whole state. One Queensland bishop actually stated publicly that he thought it was a good thing as it would bring about greater lay participation. When some have suggested bringing in surplus priests from abroad the response is always – they won’t fit into our culture. Yet the most orthodox of our bishops (now retired) decided he would set up his own seminary in his small and poor rural diocese and produced more seminarians than the rest of the state combined because he saw the answer to the ‘crisis’ as more priests not more lay people doing the priests job.

    On the ‘professional laity’ this is a major problem especially in the schools but also in chancery offices. I agree with Fr Philip that they are the real enemy of the sacramental church. The only real response is a la Bishop Finn and move to sack the lot. Once they realise they cannot get a job they will seek other avenues.

    Finally I would add that as Fr Philip says we the laity are also to blame. We have assumed a right to weekly communion. Once communion was something special – to be prepared for. Equally many in the eraly days of the Church here often went months without it as one priest was responsible for several thousand square kilometres of parish. This did not weaken their faith. Indeed they were often stronger than us – holding on to their faith despite the trials of not having a weekly mass. I think this demand arises less from a desire to share the communion of Our Lord’s Body and Blood than a sense of entitlement to receive. I have actually heard some say ‘but I have a right to have communion every Sunday. When entitlement takes the place of privilege then we have lost sight of Our Lord in the shadow cast by our own egos.

  • Dear Fr Philip

    My apologies for being somewhat unclear. It was late at night and any discussion of the “lay priesthood” because that is how many of them see themselves gets me fired up. I was not implying that the laity itself is the enemy but the professionally trained pseudo-priesthood is. They flaunt their theology degrees as a kind of Holy Orders that entitles them to all the prerogatives of a priest except being able to consecrate the host and some even think they should be allowed to do that. Among the worst are the feminists who see this as a side entry to the priestly role. The Church needs to stop employing these people NOW.