(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.
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'
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..
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.
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.'
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.