Monday, May 08, 2006

Clerical climbers

Ordaining new priests for the diocese of Rome yesterday, B16 denounced clerical careerism--and this wasn't the first time. Chalk this up as another positive sign to this low-key papacy: Climbing has become rampant, especially in the U.S., with a degree in canon law the sure path to higher office--note, for example, the number of canonists (basically church lawyers) being made bishops (basically pastors). Under JPII, the U.S. episcopacy became a den of yes-men, most of whom have followed similar career paths from seminary or Roman service (either in the Curia or religious community government) to becoming bishops, rarely touching their toes in the nitty-gritty of parish life.

The content of Benedict's admonitions is classically pious, imagining priesthood as this radical act of self-giving to Christ and the church, but his tone is that of a reformer. He knows he has a problem--all he has to do is take a look at his own Curia, clerics who've never seen a day of pastoral service in their lives. Now we have to see what steps Papa Ratzi might take to clean house.


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