Wanted: leadership in our parishes

Wanted: leadership in our parishes

Archbishop O’Malley is asking for protesting Catholics “to make greater sacrifices” for the good of the Church. I can already imagine how that’s going to be received. The archbishop was interviewed on Boston Catholic Television and talked about the closings, but not about the occupation of two churches by disgruntled former parishioners.

One thing about this whole mess that bugs me is the complete hands-off approach. The archdiocesan spokesman said the archbishop has not gone to these two parishes to speak to the people because the pastor is the archbishop’s representative. The pastors are part of the problem! Especially in Weymouth where Fr. Ron Coyne as much as incited a schism by his words and actions. “I’m not telling you to protest the archbishop’s decision and occupy the church, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.”

Anyway here’s some of the reaction from the spokesman for the church occupiers in Sudbury:

Bannon said he watched a recording of O’Malley’s appearance on BCTV and was unimpressed. “He seemed to imply that we are congregationalists, which bothered me,” Bannon said, referring to O’Malley’s use of that term to describe why local parishioners might ‘‘think only of their parish,” rather than of the broader church. ‘‘His premise of an aging priests’ population is fine—that is an issue—but there might be some creative solutions to that.”

He doesn’t like being called a congregationalist, but if the shoe fits, wear it. That’s what you’ve become, Bannon, by your actions and words. If you don’t like the term, then examine your conscience and return to the Church. After his “creative solutions” to the lack of priests, I can imagine what they might be. Sorry, Bannon, but they’re not possible in the Catholic Church.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
11 comments
  • The “hands-off” position is apparently de rigeur for recently-appointed US Bishops.

    Abp. Dolan in Milwaukee is “hands-off” on a number of issues which are, frankly, no-brainers, including, e.g., stating that CINOs are not welcome at the Table of the Lord.

    Must be a new SOP manual for these guys.

  • Watching from California, it seems that the good archbishop of Boston is imitating the behavior of his predecesor: the faithful take second place (if that lofty a position) to the needs of the “institutionalized” Church, which most hierarchs seem to equate with buildings and the number of parishes. It would hurt for the good archbishop to meet personally with the parishoners in question?

    Then again, this archbishop was appointed by a Pope who has yet to meet any victims of the clerical abuse crisis. Talk about a “hands off” policy…

    It also seems that the Catholic Church might need a bit of “congregationalism.” Right now, we have a hierarchical command system that bespeaks more of monarchy than of fidelity to Christ. The actions of hierarchs like O’Malley prove that their first loyality is to maintaining that monarchistic image, not to promote the Gospel or follow Christ.

  • That’s unfair to O’Malley. Parishes need to be closed. That’s not an accounting problem; it’s an evangelization problem and that can’t all be laid at the feet of bishops and clergy. The laity are just as much to blame. Part of the problem is also demographic: There are lots of parishes in places where Catholics don’t live anymore. Six decades ago, they lived mainly in the cities. Now they live mainly in suburbs and we built new parishes there while leaving the urban ones operating. That situation can’t continue.

    Also O’Malley has met with some of the parishioners personally, but he’s not meeting yet with occupiers. I think he should, but they may be thinking that to do so would legitimize their actions.

    I disagree that congregationalism is the way to go. Mob rule is not better and often worse than hierarchical rule. And Jesus Christ did set up a hierarchical Church.

  • Dom, perhaps I’m being unfair to O’Malley. But what if the hierarchy is broken—which I believe it is (the clerical abuse crisis and Rome’s flaccid response is an example). How does it get fixed? Merely thorugh prayer and fasting? Or through thinking about more effective mechanisms to govern?

    Jesus set up a church with Him as the head, not a hierarchical bureaucracy that’s a holdover from Imperial Rome.

  • Dom, I quote Fr. Joseph Wilson from another thread on your blog, about Rod Dreher’s application of Churchill’s quote to the contemporary Church. I think it’s more than appropriate:

    “‘Institutionalism’ is a big problem. If you
    2004-09-18 18:32:19
    michigancatholic, who said anything about leaving? I didn’t. I said that the hierarchical command structure is woefully inadequate for governing the contemporary church.

    Certainly, “institutionalism” isn’t limited to such structures, whether in religious or secular contexts (remember the USSR?). But “institutionalism” is less likely to play a role in structures in which accountability and transparency are valued.

    MC, how an the faithful “refuse to allow priests to tell (them) bull****” and “refuse to grovel at the hand of people who lie to (them), etc.” when no institutional structures exist to keep such priests and bishops accountable? Sure, individual laymen can confront such people, but such people can easily brush those laymen off. It’s happened before.

    MC, the clerical abuse crisis reflects a systemic crisis not only in church governance, but in understanding and applying the Gospel. The people at the top (including the Pope) see no reason to change, and nobody holds them accountable (yes, God does, but only at the end of time). That’s the problem that too few Catholics want to see.

  • michigancatholic, who said anything about leaving? I didn’t. I said that the hierarchical command structure is woefully inadequate for governing the contemporary church.

    Certainly, “institutionalism” isn’t limited to such structures, whether in religious or secular contexts (remember the USSR?). But “institutionalism” is less likely to play a role in structures in which accountability and transparency are valued.

    MC, how an the faithful “refuse to allow priests to tell (them) bull****” and “refuse to grovel at the hand of people who lie to (them), etc.” when no institutional structures exist to keep such priests and bishops accountable? Sure, individual laymen can confront such people, but such people can easily brush those laymen off. It’s happened before.

    MC, the clerical abuse crisis reflects a systemic crisis not only in church governance, but in understanding and applying the Gospel. The people at the top (including the Pope) see no reason to change, and nobody holds them accountable (yes, God does, but only at the end of time). That’s the problem that too few Catholics want to see.

  • Joe, just don’t grovel.  NO one makes people drive down there and drool over the bishop.  You can give him the sniff anytime he happens to show up in your vicinity if you’ve a mind to and avoid him otherwise, eh?

    No priest can make you believe bull****. You can read him out everytime you see him if you want.  No one is going to arrest you if you don’t get physical.  Got it?

    NO.  The problem is the attitude that makes laypeope swoon over clerics in an embarrassing way.  It allows said clerics to get away with whatever their little hearts desire.  That’s the problem.

    People give cash and don’t expect to hear exactly where it goes.  That’s the problem.

    A priest who doesn’t preach the gospel is just one more huckster.  A nun who wants to give you a therapeutic massage is just one more contractor. Got it?

    Their VALUE as PROFESSIONALS in the Church is their sign value and their commitment to the Gospel.  They are no cult.

  • MC, who has made these people a cult? The “faithful” Catholics (usually hyper-conservative) who are spiritually co-dependent upon even the hucksters for guidance. They, in turn, have been encouraged by the institutionalized church to respond in just such a way.

    Certainly, individuals are responsible for themselves and their actions, MC. But the fact is that the Church has encouraged this culture of spiritual co-dependence and continues to do so.

    Certainly, individual laymen can tell priests and bishops where to go. But do you think those priests and bishops will seriously pay attention, knowing that others not only will grovel but have been encouraged to do so thorough a hierarchical command system that discourages accountability and crediblity?

    MC, when are you and other Catholics like you going to wake up? When are you all going to realize that Catholic ecclesiastical structures encourage, rather than discourage, the kind of thing we’re fighting against, and that those on top want things to stay exactly the same?

  • That’s not the case, Joseph.  You misunderstand the structure.  You indeed can do as you wish, and encourage others to do as they wish.  The Chuch has no iron-handed control over you.

    You must be a cradle catholic, I would bet.

  • MC, it doesn’t matter if I’m a cradle Catholic. Rod Dreher certainly isn’t as he’s as upset about the problems concerning accountability as I am (if not more so).

    You disagree with my assessment that the hierarchical command structure encourages deference to authority and discourages accountability, to the detriment of the Church as a whole. How exactly can you say “That’s not the case”? Unless you misunderstand what I’m saying.

  • Yeah, Joe, but he approaches it differently.  His *best outcome* is different too, as frequently stated.

    I don’t misunderstand what you’re saying.  But denying the bishop excess attention/power/cash is just as simple as not getting in your car to go down to his little events to swoon over every word he says. 

    Give your $$ to the local food shelter and turn down the heat and you’ll see that you have more to say about you than you think. 

    Yes, seek holiness really, not just the removal of obstacles. Pray and read, find some faithful Catholics to talk to.  God has made it possible for us to attain to some degree of holiness, even in the most impossible circumstances.

    But if your local church is anything like mine, the Mass is there for your enrichment (just purely because it’s the Mass) but there is little else.  The presence or absence of the bishop looking for attention and political whatever is not helpful one way or another at his little events.  Just skip em. 

    If the bishop looks like he’s pretty well loaded with cash, let him foot the bill for a while.  How hard is that?

    etc, etc.  A lot of Catholics would be better off if they used their heads a little bit.

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