Saturday, November 13, 2010

A new vision of the priesthood - Part 5

This is the fifth in an ongoing series of columns about the priesthood by an activist priest from the Dominican Republic, Fr. Rogelio Cruz, that he published in El Día. English translation by Rebel Girl.

Part 5 - 11/9/2010

There are many priests who have understood the need to renew themselves and respond to today's world. That's good!

But there are others:

- Who feel safe and strong in their little parish kingdom and perform their functions imperially rather than obligingly.

- Jesus' command that they be meek and humble of heart doesn't sit well with them.

- Many give the impression of being lords and masters of their parishes -- masters of the church, the money, and all the parochial groups. Nothing can be done without their good pleasure. Nothing can be done without consulting the pastor.

- In the confessional (in confession), they behave more like canonical executioners than spiritual fathers.

- Many don't even know the words "participation", "liberation", "change", and when they hear them, they reject them immediately, saying that it's communism, that that doesn't come from the Church.

- Many don't like being accused of lacking theological culture, but the reality is that many are unaware of advances in modern theology and modern schools of thought within the Church. Many are insular, living and practicing the theology they learned in seminary and have not been able to catch up.

- Many, on hearing of the new theology, distrust and despise it and have not bothered to investigate and reflect on the richness of this new contribution.

- Many are immersed in the world of sacramentalism. The priest is the man of the sacraments. He is no longer the man of the message, who has to preach, who preaches hope and lives out God's love.

- The excessive interest in money -- it's vital to end this filthy sound of money around the altar. The undeniable fact that the priest needs money to live has led us to put a price on the sacred. Is this not a sacrilege? Is this not blasphemy? Is this not sacramental commerce? Baptisms are worth so much, a wedding so much, and if carpet and music are included, they're worth more. A funeral, so much.

There are, and we know, priests and pastors who are completely non-self-interested, who, after a whole life leading a parish, don't have a dime, not even insurance to cover them in their old age or illness. Men completely devoted to their mission.

What the people need from a priest is for him to accompany them, to instruct them -- caring, support, and a fraternal visit.

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