Monday, May 01, 2006

The doormats of God

News that the diocese of London, Ontario will be closing 36 of its 153 parishes--that's 20 percent--elicited these reactions from a parishioners, according to Canada's Globe and Mail:

“ 'We don't like it, none of us like it,' said one woman, who declined to give her name. 'He (the bishop) has the final word.'

“ 'It's a change we've got to put up with,' said Joe [Givlin], 85. 'Everything changes. I'd say there's nothing you can do.' ”

And therein lies the problem. Someone has convinced these folks there is nothing to be done, when the fact is, not only can something be done, but there's no reason to give the bishop the final word.

Why are these parishes closing? In addition to the fact that a lot of the buildings are old, 20 priests are retiring next year, and there are not enough clergy to staff these parishes.

Here's an idea for everyone whose parish is closing because of the priest shortage: Find the person or people in your parish who are its natural leaders--man or woman, married or single, gay or straight. Then present him or her or them to the bishop for ordination. When the bishop tells you he can only ordain a celibate male, tell him to get his butt to Rome and tell the powers that be to fix the problem they have created. The faithful, after all, have a right to the sacraments. If Rome wants to hang on to priesthood, start accepting the candidates both God and the people of God are calling to service.

Of course, we could get the ball rolling if some gutsy bishop would just ordain a couple of married men, but don't hold your breath for that kind of bold yet truly pastoral action.


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