Cardinal complains of worldly values in Church
(ANSA) - Vatican City, February 14 -
A top Vatican cardinal complained on Thursday that Catholic priests are becoming worldlier, less obedient and increasingly reluctant to wear a cassock.
Absorbing the values of western society, priests are also less and less interested in prayer and community living and more interested in personal freedom, said Cardinal Franc Rode' in a conversation with ANSA.
''A drift towards bourgeois values and moral relativism are the two great dangers that weaken religious life,'' said Rode', who heads the Vatican department which governs monks, nuns and priests not attached to parishes.
The often-cited fall in vocations to the priesthood was actually not the main worry, the Slovenian prelate continued, noting that in 2006 vocations fell only 0.7%
''The biggest problem today is the climate of secularisation present not only in western society but also within the Church itself,'' he said. Without citing any names or specific episodes, Rode' listed a number of ways in which this change was visible among priests and members of religious communities.
They were: ''Freedom without constraints, a weak sense of the family, a worldly spirit, low visibility of religious clothing, a devaluation of prayer, insufficient community life and a weak sense of obedience''.
Despite the decline in standards, many young people were still attracted to the contemplative life of the monk or nun in an isolated community, Rode' said
''They are attracted because it is a radical life choice,'' he said.
Priests are disobedient because they were TAUGHT to be so, either in the seminary or in the diocese. All too often, theological dissent and liturgical abuse are tolerated if not endorsed in certain seminaries. Disobedience to the Magisterium and disregard for liturgical rubrics as found in the Roman Missal only leads to disobedience in other areas. Why should we expect clergy to obey their bishops and respect their pastors when they were trained by dissident theologians? A posteriori learning, obviously. When your superiors show contempt and disdain for their superiors and openly defy their rules and regulations, you learn and imitate that same behavior.
Many of us were persecuted for wearing a cassock, in the seminay and then in the rectory. Wordliness was experienced in the seminary, then in the rectory. Simple, humble and modest lifestyle was considered 'too pious'
After defending the Roman Pontiff and Magisterium in the seminary, many of us found we had to do it all over again in the parish. You expected some of the faithful to have been indoctrinated and brainwashed by the dissidents who flourished after the public repudiation of Humanae Vitae by Charles Curran, et al. What you did not expect was the cold shoulder if not open hostility experienced from your own diocesan colleagues. Peers in the local presbyterate are sometimes as dissident and disobedient as some of the radical faculty members from seminary days.
Sadly, in some dioceses, the priests and even chancery personnel who defy papal authority and who disregard liturgical norms and who contradict most of the catechism, are often given no reprimand. In fact, some of them are championed as avant garde progressives and get appointments to diocesan councils, committees, etc. Given almost guru status, these micreants often tell young clergy 'don't be too rigid or else you will be labeled a conservative.' Wearing a cassock in the rectory, using a chalice veil and burse at Mass, wearing a biretta at Stations of the Cross, wearing a cape at the cemetery, wearing cassock and surplice rather than an alb at a liturgical service outside Mass, ... these are considered omens and portents of a CONSERVATIVE. Pastors and diocesan officials cringe. If he has a Latin breviary, he will inevitably want to celebrate the TLM!!! Even the Novus Ordo in Latin and giving blessings in Latin are still considered taboo in some places. The sad reality is that the good guys never imposed their opinions or taste on others, whereas the radical left always wants to prevent a legitimate exercise of a valid option IF they themselves do not prefer it. Wearing a cassock is a matter of choice (DE GUSTIBUS NON DISPUTANDUM EST) If I choose to wear mine, it is my preference where and when (within reason and in accord with canon law). If my fellow clergy prefer to wear simple clerical garb (roman collar & suit), it does not bother me. However, my wearing a cassock bothers some priests. Wear french cuff under your cassock and they accuse you of being a closet Legionnaire of Christ or Opus Dei. Wear an expensive colored silk shirt and you are considered 'balanced.' The pathetic thing of it all is that the false doctrines and liturgical abuses being proliferated on the People of God often get ignored for a witch hunt to uncover those clerics who like to wear more traditional attire..
LEX ORANDI, LEX CREDENDI, LEX AGENDI If a priest is exposed and taught to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with reverence and to do it faithfully according to the rubrics, then he will do that in his parish. When he sees liturgical abuse in the seminary, he may imitate that in the parish. Defying liturgical law only inspires one to deny or distort doctrine since what we believe is intimately connected to how we worship. Reverence for the Mass, especially the Most Blessed Sacrament, is the backbone to believing in the dogma of the Real Presence. Disregard for the rules in the Sacramentary will entice one to ignore the Catechism since they both come from the same authority.
If a priest is trained to be disobedient in liturgical matters and/or is taught dissident heterodox theology, then he will infect his parishes where he is assigned unless he is able to recognize the contagion when it first appears. Opus Dei saved my vocation and a plethora of many others when they had an annual seminar for seminarians the week after Easter. Guys from around the country would gather at Arnold Hall retreat center to listen to Fr. George Rutler, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, Msgr. Wm. Smith, Dr. Janet Smith, Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Archbisop Raymond Burke, et al. We got more orthodox theology and liturgy in one week than in an entire year of seminary.
Unfortunately, even when men are sent to solid, orthodox seminaries, they may be sent after ordination to a very liberal parish run by a heterodox pastor who has general confession, lets non-ordained preach at Mass, insists that the faithful stand during the Eucharistic Prayer, and sits in his chair while Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion distribute the Blessed Sacrament. This same pastor will never preach against abortion, euthanasia, same-sex unions, contraception, or premarital fornication. He will, however, tell people that Jesus did not multiply the loaves of bread and two fish to feed five thousand, rather that He was able to get everyone to SHARE what they already had in their backpacks. This pastor who dislikes being called "Father" and prefers to be known as "Scott" rarely wears his roman collar and often ad libs prayers in the Mass.
A newly ordained gets sent there for his first 3 years of priesthood. Who wins and who loses? Say anything and they label you a troublemaker. Be faithful to the Church results in you disobeying the pastor (who in reality is disobeying Holy Mother Church) Once identified as someone leaning to the right, all your next assignments will be in liberal parishes with liberal pastors to help 'deprogram' you and make you less 'rigid' so you can be 'pastoral' rather than 'orthodox.'
We absolutely NEED good, solid and totally orthodox seminaries (and close those that are not). Our bishops need to keep an eye not only on seminary formation but also continuing formation of the clergy. Annual worshops and seminars (like those currently sponsored by Opus Dei and the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy) help priests of all ages at all stages to maintain their orthodoxy and to foster a pious and healthy spiritual life. Things have been improving with recent episcopal assignments and overhauls of some seminaries, yet there is still a lot to be done.
Too many good priests get DISILLUSIONED and then DISCOURAGED when heterodox colleagues get diocesan positions, promotions and honors while orthodox men, loyal to Rome and reverent in their Masses are ignored, ostracized and often villified. Worse yet is when a bishop or diocese places the highest priority on fiscal health of a parish over the spiritual health. Saving souls should be the PRIME DIRECTIVE, not saving dollars and cents. Teaching the TRUTH is what priests and deacons are ordained to do, rather than acting like corporate business managers who spend more time on the budget than on the catechism.
I noticed early on that the priests who joyfully threw out gold chalices and patens and raped the sanctuaries of their invaluable art did so under the false guise of showing solidarity with the poor. These same ICONOCLASTS, however, drive expensive cars, take expensive vacations, and dine at only the best restaurants. Apparently, once you skimp on God in His House, you can compensate yourself in minor luxuries, or so they think.
Fr. Trigilio continues in the combox on the same post:
CAVEAT - There are TWO extremes that need to be avoided. One is the almost hedonistic and materialistic tendency to compensate for giving up having a wife, children and handsome salary by getting as much consumer goods as possible and aggressively pursuing comfort and leisure. That is NOT what a priest is called to do. The other extreme, however, is to confuse the distinction between a diocesan (secular) priest and a religious order (regular) priest. The religious (Dominican, Franciscan, Benedictine, Augustinian, etc.) takes a solemn vow of POVERTY, Chastity and Obedience. That vow of poverty means he cannot and does not own ANYTHING. He does not own a car, computer, television, stereo, and has no credit card, no checking account. Everything is owned by the order and everything is shared. If he needs something, he must ask the superior for permission and ask the bursar for the money. All his temporal needs are provided by the order, however.
The diocesan priest does NOT take a vow of POVERTY. We are allowed to own private property (like the laity) but we are to also be POOR IN SPIRIT, i.e., be detached from our possessions. What we own cannot and should not own us. Diocesan clergy have their own cars but also pay their own car insurance. We pay taxes like our parishioners. We have to borrow money to finance a car like anyone else. The diocese does not provide us with everything as the religious order or community does for the religious priest who took the vow of poverty.
The other extreme, then, is to presume and falsely judge and compare diocesan clergy with religious clergy. The Fratecelli were a heretical group in the Middle Ages who maintained that Christ had absolute poverty, therefore all clergy had to own nothing. Even the Apostles and Disciples did not universally embrace such complete and total poverty. St. Mark's family was of modest wealth and provided the Upper Room for the Last Supper and Pentecost. While some of my diocesan colleagues give scandal, many do NOT. Many live simple, modest lives without having to live exactly like a religious who is vowed to poverty. Like our people, we have to find a BALANCE.
The moral virtue of TEMPERANCE or MODERATION is essential for clergy and laity alike. I have a satellite dish so I can watch EWTN as my local cable only carries it half a day. I also give 10% of my income to the Church vis-a-vis my parish, my diocese, EWTN and Opus Dei. Many of my colleagues do likewise.
What we diocesan clergy need to avoid is the appearance as well as the actuality of scandal in that we should not be seen living an extravagant life. Buying, owning and wearing expensive and designer clothing can give scandal but so does not wearing your roman collar when on duty. Driving the most expensive luxury car when your average parishioner can only afford a modest standard or full size car can be scandalous. At the same time, if your parish is in a rural area, you may need an SUV to get to your people in bad weather, especially when they need to be anointed in the middle of the night.
If a priest is paying an obscene annual fee to belong to an exclusive golf club, then that is scandalous. There are moderate priced courses he can use, especially if his average parishioner can only afford them.
Bottom line is that I personally do not feel morally bound to only buy generic food. I try to live a modest but not frugal life. If I try to be generous to the church and to the poor, then I have no qualm of conscience occasionally enjoying a nice meal at a fine restaurant. It is all a matter of BALANCE, moderation and prudence.
We diocesan priests will be judged on what we did or did not do, just like anyone else. If we were generous or stingy; orthodox or heterodox; good or immoral.
Thankfully, we have support with organizations like the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy to help us foster ongoing spiritual, theological and pastoral formation in a fraternal environment.