Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Maintaining "distinctions"

A friend sent this from the Chicago Sun-Times about on "new rules" for "lay ecclesial ministers": "The debate showed that a number of bishops worry that the term ''minister'' undercuts the status of priests."

Asks Bob (the friend): "Shouldn't they be more concerned with dealing with the shortage than protecting the 'status' of priests?" Hmmm, seems reasonable to me.

The bishops' argument, of course, is that the drop in priestly vocations is directly related to the fact that the priestly aura has been dimmed by the rise of the laity in Roman Catholicism. The solution is to mark out "special" places for the priest, emphasizing his "power" to consecrate the eucharist and forgive sins and bless things, as well as his identity as "alter Christus"--another Christ. This despite the fact that the sacraments belong to the whole church (with some members "ordered," as in Holy Orders, to lead the community in celebrating them) and that all the baptized are supposed to be "alter Christi."

Besides, I think "status of priests" is pretty much a done deal in the popular mind--justly or unjustly--because of the sex abuse scandal. Of course, those who deserve to have their "status" knocked down a peg or two because of that are the bishops. Still waiting for that.

I have to admit it, though: I wouldn't want to be your basic parish priest right now. You pretty much get it from all sides. But the good ones in my experience know they couldn't survive without the competent lay co-workers--and don't worry too much about calling them "ministers."


At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your friend, Bob, sounds very, very smart. The bishops are keeping themselves busy hanging pictures (of themselves) on the Titanic.


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