This is the sixth 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 6 - 11/16/2010
If one of the great sins of priests is interest in material things, a no lesser one is the lack of interest in the spiritual.
Lack of interest in personally getting to know each of his sheep. Lack of interest in knowing their problems. Lack of interest in helping them with their problems. Lack of interest in going to visit them in their own homes.
Many censuses are conducted to impose tribute, to keep the list of contributors up to date, but never to know the real situation of the parish, of each family, to know how many sick people we have to visit, to know how many fallen away Christians we need to draw back, to know how many children are not going to school or to catechism.
Almost all the interest is based on attending to rich people; and for the poor, crumbs of time or whatever is left over.
Most priests come from the lower class, but their training and work is directed at the middle class or those above; they put themselves at the service of the upper class and divorce themselves from the working class.
Other priests have the urge to be builders, priests involved with financiers, going from bank to bank looking for those who will lend to them or give them money to build.
The priest should do that when it is absolutely necessary and represents a great good for the Church and there is nobody else who can do it.
The problem is that many priests, after having built the church, are unfit for the Gospel. The heart has become cement, brick, and they have built a wall between themselves and the people.
Others have an urge to celebrate Mass, without denying the importance of the Eucharist, many priests come to the chapel, to the church, with time measured out.
They confess, they celebrate baptisms and in the sermon will talk about funds and the collections to build the new chapel.
Mass is over, and they disappear until next Sunday; many of those churches won't open for the whole week. But Mass has been celebrated.
Despite the best will, the priest thus becomes a functionary who brings merchandise. Such a Mass is useless. It doesn't fill any need.
The Mass has no content, no meaning.
The Mass, being a value in itself, becomes merchandise that does not attract the buyer.
Who comes? Pious people, good ones, friends of following tradition -- they are those who don't want to commit a mortal sin by not going to Mass. The absence of the young is noticeable.
If celebrating Mass like that is the task of a priest, one could say that he is wasting his time. The first thing to do is evangelize.
This is the price the Church has to pay for making into a legal obligation what can only be decided by Love.