Friday, September 25, 2009

Hijacking The Year Of The Priest.

I predicted that it would happen, but I wish I was wrong. People of a certain theological bent are embarrassed by an orthodox theological understanding of the sacrament of Holy Orders. They don't like ontological change and prefer a functional understanding of Orders. It's just 'ministry' and we all do 'ministry'. It is leveling that cannot tolerate either differentiation or hierarchy. These people are not able to abide a year which focuses on the unique vocation of the priest. Instead, they will talk about the 'common priesthood of all believers'. A worthy concept, but not what this year is about and one which has been twisted to attack the very nature of the Church.

So what does Notre Shame do during this year? Invite His Eminence of Los Angeles to speak on something which is not above his pay grade, “Fostering the Baptismal Priesthood in the ‘Year for Priests’”. Here is the Shame description of the event,

Following the Second Vatican Council there has been a rediscovery in Catholic theology of baptism as the foundational sacrament of ministry, and a clearer recognition that ministry is not just for the ordained. The Second Vatican Council related the baptismal call, the vocation of the baptized, and the office of the ordained to the mystery of Christ, finding in each a reflection of the threefold office of Christ priest, prophet and king. Every vocation and every ministry is rooted in the same reality of Christ and his presence by the gift of the Spirit in the Church.Responding to Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to reflect on the priesthood during this “Year for Priests,” and drawing from his own recent pastoral letter on ministry, “As I Have Done for You,” Cardinal Mahony will identify the foundations for a baptismal priesthood and a ministerial priesthood suited to meet the pressing needs of the Church today.

This was brought to my attention by Gianna in a comment on another post. She succinctly describes what the talk was like:

Cardinal Mahoney was just here at Notre Dame giving a talk about the priesthood...basically he was shilling for lay/evil nun administrators for parishes, and he thought that a priest should preferably be involved in social justice work before he should be involved in running a parish. Quite gagworthy. Then again, ND doesn't have too good a record in terms of people they invite...

Fundamentally, it seems that some people are embarrassed by the priesthood as it has been traditional understood. They are OK with holy social workers (social justice work), but not with priests as shepherds and sanctifiers. Best to have lay (preferably women) or nun parish coordinators and keep priests in the closet as sacramental machines (at least until the Church realizes that we all consecrate the Eucharist. While in Milwaukee, I one heard a newly ordained priest say from the pulpit that it would be wonderful if we could all take turns presiding. Gagworthy indeed.) No thanks. This is not the teaching of the Church, especially as enunciated by the Second Vatican Council. Let's keep the Year of the Priest focused on priests. Don't let us off the hook.

Update (Monday September 28):
Interesting comment from Mary Liz,

Actually, from what I've heard, the event was a great "up your's" from Mahony. The Congregation of Holy Cross had originally invited him to speak on the Priesthood. (Year of the Preist, they're using it for all its vocation recruiting power) When Mahony revealed his the title of the talk, the Congregation said "forget that!" and pulled sponsorship leaving the University to pick it up.
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