Milwaukee has its own form of the Boston Priests Forum. About 80 of the archdiocese’s 400 priests decided to form this new alliance. In principle, I’m all for priests getting together to discuss the problems, concerns, and joys of the priesthood. But in reality, I fear that this is just another group that will produce a constant flow of press releases and news stories about priests disagreeing with the Church’s teachings.
For one thing, at the top of the agenda is discussion of celibacy. Now, considering that Archbishop Dolan and Bishop Gregory already said there’s no point in discussing (never mind the constant reiteration from the Vatican that the discipline isn’t going to change) why do these priests persist?
They also say they want to discuss recent lirtugical changes and are miffed that they weren’t consulted. Are we supposed to take a poll of the Church’s tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) priests when determining liturgical norms? That’s what leadership is about. The Pope, in communion with the world’s bishops, makes decisions based on the Church’s oral and written Tradition on these matters. The problem is that individual priests have taken it upon themselves to make decisions about these matters for far too long. And they don’t like that their “creativity” is being taken away.
“That was expressed in one person saying there is a felt or perceived need to ask ‘Are we moving in a different direction than we were as the result of Vatican II, and what is that direction?’ ” Hornacek said. “No one is stating that there has been a change in direction, and yet it feels that way. Has there been a change in the Vatican II vision in which we were brought up? It seems like there is this erosion in that vision.”
Is the “vision of Vatican II” anything like the “spirit of Vatican II.” In any case, what the Pope and his assistants have been pushing is a return to the letter of Vatican II, especially the document on the liturgy, and the reforms that it actually intended, not the ones cobbled together by those who wanted to “conform the liturgy to modern needs.”
Some of the priests expressed concern at their dwindling numbers.
“We are fewer in number,” he said. “We are older. When we look at the number of priests that will retire in the next 15 years what gives our younger priests hope? Our seminarians hope?”
Ah, but then let’s look at dioceses where the numbers of seminarians and newly ordained priests are rising. It is in those places where orthodoxy and the embracing of the Church’s teachings and tradition that we see a spike in the number of priests. Perhaps, these older priests should be asking themselves why young men don’t want to join their ranks in places like Milwaukee, but instead flock to places like Denver.