Saturday, December 14, 2013

Upbeat Analysis of the Vocation Situation Today

Renewal: How a New Generation of Faithful Priests and Bishops Is Revitalizing the Catholic Church
Hendershott, Anne; White, Christopher
 (2013-12-03).  Encounter Books. Kindle Edition.

"For faithful Catholics, priests are still heroes. Even in the aftermath of the clergy abuse scandal, national surveys consistently indicate that most Catholics deeply respect their priests. They are grateful for the sacrifices these men have made on their behalf, and faithful Catholics are optimistic about the future of the priesthood and the Church itself. Progressives maintain that no priest deserves such an honor—and define such respect as leading to “clericalism.” Many progressives do not even see the need for priests." (p. 174)

This is a great book for many reasons. It says an awful lot about the importance for the life of the Church of a clear traditional grasp of the dignity of the priesthood. The genre is a bit more on the journalistic side and as such is not a primary source, but the authors do a brilliant job of explaining much and documenting unabashedly bad and good. I don't think everyone will be happy with the easy "off" they give to many aspects of the Church today, but the book is definitely a contribution.

If I had to point out an eye-opener in the book, it would be the strong reservations expressed by the authors concerning the USCCB. This quote was sort of a shocker for me:

“In Orwell’s dystopia, as the truth becomes uncomfortable, facts are redefined—or sometimes removed—by the Office of the Ministry of Truth. This new version of the “truth” is then disseminated by the Office of the Ministry of Propaganda. While this is not to suggest that the USCCB has become the Catholic Church’s Ministry of Truth, it is difficult not to conclude that the Ten Year Review of the Implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae provides readers with absolutely no information about what is really happening at Catholic colleges and universities. In fact, the report says nothing about campus problems in the past except to claim that despite the progress that has been made, “there is still work to be done.” To understand how such a vacuous report could be disseminated by the USCCB, one has to go back to November 14, 2010, when the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education approved a ten-year review of the application of Ex Corde Ecclesiae for the United States. Headed by Most Reverend Thomas Curry, then an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, the Committee on Catholic Education set the goals and the guidelines for the ten-year review. (Curry recently resigned as bishop in the wake of the release of documents showing that he deliberately and knowingly took steps to conceal the abuse of children from law enforcement and to protect abusive priests.)” (p. 97)

Naively I had presumed reforms had limited the power of the apparatus, but evidently not. Perhaps financial default is the only way to get a handle on these so-called "catholic" institutes of higher education. They are way too expensive and only undermine the cause for recovering or restoring Catholic culture. Fortunately, a number of seminaries seem to have recovered. We can only hope and pray for further development in this sense.

I am really quite hopeful about the younger generation of priests. There is much good will and desire to serve. I hope they get the kind of direction and support they need to grow and become true leaders. We pray for them and for all us older folk as well!

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