Wednesday, September 01, 2010

And we wonder why we're short of priests

One of the Catholic blogs I read on a regular basis belongs to a conservative young priest who nonetheless strikes me as a decent fellow, a smart guy.  Needless to say, we disagree about seventy percent of the time on liturgical and theological issues--but as I said, I like him just the same; I'm convinced he has a good heart.  A few days ago, Fr. D posted in his blog a letter from the vocations director for his diocese (which also happens to be my diocese).  At one point, the vocations director asks, "Is there someone there [in your parish or circle of friends] who might just possibly make a good priest?"  I've heard this question posed any number of times over the last three decades.  It was asked frequently when I was a teenager finishing up at my Catholic grade school.  When I was fourteen, I seriously considered the priesthood myself.  Not for me, though I respect people who are called to it.

Still, I can't help but laugh (gently) at the irony of the Catholic church asking this question so frequently, with mixed results, even as it fails to consider ordaining women to the priesthood.  Conservatives/traditionalists in the church will offer a dozen arguments about why the church does not--"cannot," in their words--ordain women as priests.  Ultimately, though, human prejudice is a factor that cannot be overlooked, though defenders of a male-only priesthood always do deny that there's anything vaguely resembling sexism at work here.

Do I know--have I known--promising, faith-filled Catholics who would make excellent priests?  Yes indeed.  But some of those folks are female.  Unfortunately, the church has told them not to apply; we Catholics in the pews evidently do not need those folks (you know...women) to minister to us, to bring the sacraments into our lives, as priests.  The Holy Spirit has basically been told by Church leadership, over and over, that only males are eligible.  How out of whack is that?  And how very unfortunate for those of us who want to see the priesthood flourish!  (I realize, yes, that the Church would characterize the situation otherwise.)  May God, in God's wisdom, send His ministers, of whichever gender, to those churches that will accept them.  

Pray hard for vocations, yes!  Truly!  And try to keep an open-mind and be non-sexist in those prayers -- that would be a wonderful charge for the Church to give itself.  Priest shortage indeed.

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