Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Priests becoming disobedient

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.


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I absolutely and totally agree. It is very difficult as someone who aspires to be a priest to have to be ridiculed and chastized by even the Church at which I grew up, to have to listen to herodoxy and watching disobedience to the Holy Father. But I always remember that when I'm persected, it means I'm doing something right.
Please pray for my vocation as well as for me.

andrew said...

How sad and so true. Makes one want to cry.

MS said...

I understand the frustration, but I can only ask you to hang in there. One important virtue that seems to be coming up among laity is 'obedience with love' to the movements of God's Holy Spirit and the ancient teachings of the Church. One cannot learn obedience with love unless one has at least a few examples around them of priests and bishops doing so. Even one can make a huge difference! Learning this virtue could be the difference of life and death in a soul.

Anonymous said...

Fr, you have blogged on the exact way that I am feeling at this moment in time. I'm less than five years in the priesthood and have and have been called all sorts of un-christian names by priests and lay people for wearing a cassock and being faithful to the Church. I was sent to a seminary run by heretics and sent to be a curate in a parish run by the most fascist liberal in the diocese. The same has happened to other young priests in the diocese who are ture to the Churches teachings. It indeed can be very frustrating and downheartening. But thanks to good and loyal priests, such as members of the Prelature, we have hope for the future and support n our ministry at this time. God bless you Fr, for the courage to speak out.

THERGE said...

Fortunately, I think people are starting to understand what you are talking about. I see more and more orthodoxy all the time.

Anonymous said...

You have just showed why orthodox organisations of priests are so necessary. We all need support, we all need to hear from someone that we are doing a good job. I am surprised though why the orthodox organisations of priests have so few members both in the USA and Australia considering that there are good priests out there.


Mary B. said...

Very enlightening post. I stopped attending mass back in 1980 while at university because one of the priests of my campus parish told us it's OK if we didn't attend mass every Sunday. He said that time for our studies should come first. Another priest in the parish told us that nowhere does the Bible state that premarital sex is prohibited. After a 25 year absence I started to attend mass again two years ago and I still can't believe what I see. People wearing pajamas to mass, snacking, chatting, children reading novels and text messaging each other and parishioners that don't even fold their hands on their way to and from communion. In a way, I'm glad I've missed this degeneration in manners and respect over the past 28 years because it may have been so gradual that I wouldn't have noticed it. Although I live five minutes from a church, I often go 30 minutes out of my way to attend Latin mass or mass at a Benedictine abbey. I have difficulty respecting the priests of my local parish because they don't correct any bad behavior such as I've cited. And they also have satellite TV dishes attached to their rectory. Where do priests find the time to watch all of those channels? Aren't they supposed to spend their spare time praying?

Padre Giovanni Trigilio said...

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.

Mary B. said...

Padre, I think that your comment may be addressing mine because you refer to your subscription to satellite TV; however, my concern was about time, not money, spent on TV. Being a niece of a parish priest, I'm well aware of a secular priest's financial situation. I'm also aware of the constraints on his time due to the shortage of priests. I've also heard other priests comment on how they are often pressed for time tending to their parishioners. Therefore, I'm quite surprised to see two satellite TV dishes on the rectory of my local parish. Where do they find the time to enjoy the greater than average amount of TV programs broadcast today? I recently read in John Senior's book "The Restoration of Christian Culture" that priests should spend two to four hours daily praying. So I wonder when I pass my local rectory, which takes priority at the end of the day, prayer or TV? Because they voluntarily allow more than the average amount of junk culture programming into their home, are they not noticing that junk culture is pervading their parish with the behaviors I described in my comment above? How refreshing it would be to meet a priest who has unplugged from our junk culture and, to paraphrase G. K. Chesterton has not fallen prey to the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

I agree with every word of this.

The liberals have been around for a long time, too long, and will not disappear from the scene just yet.

But I really think they have had their day.
I can't help notice how old fashioned and dated they are in their thoughts, their philosophy, their life style.

They are wedded to yesterday, and are stuck in a time warp, while the eternal Church moves on.

They will be left behind, eventually.

Some might even embrace orthodox Catholicism. (With God all things are possible.)

A prayer for all priests and seminarians who perservere in the true Catholic faith.

Joyful Catholics said...

Father you wrote:
"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 vilified."

That is so very true. Please pray and I ask the prayers of your readers, as well, for my friend Fr. Gerard, who has been going through this for a few years now, and is battling discouragement big time. Thank you so much. God bless.

Paul said...


Thanks for speaking out and for all the great work you do. The tide is turning and we all must do our part.

I do wish more priests would wear either their cassock or clericals out in public. It provides such great witness and is a reminder to all that see them, whether Catholic or not.

Keep up the good work and God bless.

Paul in Long Beach

Michael O'Leary said...

During my 66 years of life I have been blessed with humble and spiritually holy servants of the Church.I have truly appreciated their help in my spiritual journey of my life.
At the administration of Holy orders the bishop lays his hands on the candidates for ordination, calls down upon them the Holy Ghost, anoints their hands, and presents the sacred vessels to them.

They thereby receive, In addition to a plenitude of grace, the sacerdotal powers: more especially the power to offer the holy sacrifice and to forgive sins.

We read that the apostles consecrated Paul and Barnabas with prayer and imposition of hands (Acts 13 3), and in like manner Paul consecrated Timothy (2 Tim 1, 6). The sacrament of Orders was unquestionably instituted by Our Lord at the Last Supper.

The office of priesthood, to which a man is raised by Holy orders, is one of great dignity, but likewise one of no slight difficulty and of vast responsibility.

The priesthood is the highest dignity upon earth. It surpasses that of kings and emperors, nay even of the angels themselves. "For", as St. John Chrysostom remarks "the power of kings is only over the bodies of men, whereas that of the priest is over their souls." On the priest are conferred powers not accorded to angels; for to what angel was it ever given to convert bread into the body of the Lord by his word? And not all the angels together could grant pardon for a single sin. By his office a priest is only concerned with heavenly things; he stands between God and man: he lays our petition before the Most High and conveys divine graces to us. He is a mediator between God and man, the angel of the Lord of Hosts (Mal 2, 7) the messenger of God to make known His will to men. He is God's representative, His ambassador, His plenipotentiary, therefore whatsoever honour we show to the priest, we pay to God himself. Does not Our Lord Himself say "He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me" (Luke 10, 16). In fact St. Peter Damian says, God actually follows the priest, for what he declares on earth is ratified in heaven; and at His word the Second Person of The Holy Trinity becomes flesh beneath his hand as at the incarnation. Hence we do well to address the priest as "Your reverence". St Francis of Assisi used to say that if he met an Angel and a priest at the same time he should salute the priest first.

The sacerdotal office is also one of immense responsibility and great difficulty; the obligations resting upon the priest are neither few nor light. He has to recite the breviary daily, which cannot be done under an hour and a quarter; he is pledged to lifelong celibacy; he has to visit the sick at any hour of the day and night when he may be called upon; he has to take the last sacraments to the dying, however contagious the disease from which they are suffering; he has often to sit for long hours in the confessional, to fast late on account of the late Masses; he is bound to renounce all worldly amusements, to be liberal towards the poor, and much more besides. Priests ought to be the salt of the earth (Matt. 5 13)

Nor must it be overlooked that zealous priests are in the present day frequently the object of suspicion and persecution, and their apostolic labours are ill rewarded. The ardent followers of the world are inclined to treat their priests like the dog in the fable, which bit the hand that was stretched out to save him from drowning.

If the wolf comes and rends the sheep, the shepherd is taken to task. So it is with the priests; they have to render an account of the souls committed to their charge. (Heb 13, 17). "The duties of those who will have to give account for souls", says St Bernard, "are heavy and onerous". On the day of his ordination St John Chrysostom said "I now need your prayers a thousand fold more, lest in the Day of Judgement, I should be cast into the exterior darkness."

Since the sacerdotal office is in itself an office of such great dignity, we owe profound respect to the priest on account of his office, even if his life should not correspond to it.

Nothing can take away the dignity attaching to the priestly office, not even an ungodly life; therefore we ought always to entertain great reverence for it. Even pagan monarchs have been known to manifest deep veneration for the priests of the true God. Almighty God permits his priests to be encompassed with infirmity, in order that they may have the more compassion on them that are ignorant and that err (Heb. 5, 2). St Francis of Sales said of priests "I will close my eyes to their faults, and only see in them God's representatives."

"Are we" asks St. Augustine. "To think slightingly of Christ and the apostles, because there was a Judas among them? Who will show me any body of men upon earth who are without faults?"

How blameworthy are those who publish far and wide the misdeeds of a priest!

The Church sings in her Passion chant, the cross is "a tree beautifully adorned, environed with light, a noble tree, selected from all trees; no forest produces its equal in foliage, blossom and fruit." The noble tree of the cross was besprinkled with the blood that gushed forth from the body of the Lamb. Hence its branches are full of blossoms of grace and fruits of life; and its foliage, which neither withers nor falls, avails for the salvation of nations. (The holy Sacrifice of the Mass Ghir)

Michael O'Learypixdfun

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