Saturday 21 March 2015
Seminaries, Clergy and Today’s Church: Let Truth & Charity prevail...
I encourage readers to visit Torch of the Faith for Friday, 20th March, go to a post entitled
It includes a sad experience of Ushaw seminary which is, I suspect, familiar to not a few. (I know one young man who was on a ‘taster weekend’ at Ushaw [not a Selection Conference] whose experience was for him and his sensibilities, rather scandalous). It is a charitable piece which mentions no names and ruins no one, but very honest in its presentation of today’s crisis.
I have to say that when we become disheartened at the state of the Church today we should remember that the seminary staff and Curias who sought to make the changes from which we now suffer were simply holding a mistaken understanding of what Vatican II sought from the laity when it spoke of lay mission: such seminary staff and Curias were not deliberately wicked. It is simply that after Vatican II (and somewhere very early on along the line) the word ‘mission’ was replaced with ‘ministry’ -and from this, all the trouble began. What was being promoted was not what Vatican II sought (Mission to the world) as clarified by John Paul II in Christifideles Laici, but something Vatican II never spoke of: Lay Ministry.
I am not saying that none of those who sought to engineer a new-style Church were not devious or not actively seeking to dismantle the Church -some may well have been- but my experience of my brother priests is that they are sincere men who believed and believe they are doing what is right and good; that they are truly listening to the Holy Spirit. I think those who were devious or actively seeking to dismantle the Church of the Ages were few and few between –but sadly, also very influential. It was their ideologies that formed priests (of both presbyteral and episcopal rank) over the 50 years which have followed Vatican II; the dismantlers gave today’s priests a tool kit that was deficient; fit only for dismantling, not building. Since one works from what one has in one’s tool kit, today’s priests can only work with the toolkit the dismantlers gave them. So remember to criticise opinions and plans, not people. While we can and must be honest (transparent) when seeking to correct directions and to provide new tools, we must retain charity and respect for persons and their good name. Let Truth & Charity prevail.