Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The lay pastor

It is rare for me to cite an article that was blogged about by another, which I read about there. It is even less often (never?) that I would write about someone else's blog post. Indeed, that is what I am doing today. I read about this post first on the Curt Jester. The original blog post found here. Also, forgive my abhorrent English above.

This commentary is great. It is a critique of the office of Parish Life Collaborator (or also Coordinator) (PLC). This is a lay person or a Nun, or an otherwise non-priest assigned to a parish with no priest to oversee parish work, and I suppose pastoral duties. This is a response to the lack of priestly vocations, but, as Fr. Powell points out, is also a hindrance to those vocations.

The biggest problem, he notes, is the fact that in these parishes, there is no visible example of the priesthood to aspire to.
We know young men need male leadership in order to be properly challenged to sacrifice secular enticements. Sister's appointment is one more example of the feminization of the Church and another nail in the coffin of priestly vocations.

This is a move (sideways and under the guise of an "emergent crisis") to undermine presbyteral authority in the parish by emptying the role of pastor of its orders. IOW, this is a move to make it possible to be appointed Pastor (even if not in name) w/o being an ordained priest. Priests will simply become traveling Sacrament Machines. The office of Priest Director will fade as demand for priests grows. Interesting side note: priests now are starting to look a whole like bishops in the Patristic period!
Wow, I've never thought of it that way, so much. Back home there is such a shortage of priests that they are merging parishes, and individual priests are holding down three or four churches. If these observations aren't bad enough, check out these predictions.

a). even with the availability of newly ordained priests, PLC's will continue to "pastor" their parishes with Fr. Newbie hanging around for "mentoring." He will be graduated to a staff position and made a "member of the team."

b). Within five years (but before the Fr. Newbies arrive) PLC's will demand the right to preach at Mass since Fr. Sacramental Minister isn't in residence and doesn't know the parish. How can he possibly preach to us when he doesn't know us?

c). Look for a new book of ceremonies to appear from The Liturgical Press, Liturgies for Pastoral Life Coordinators quite soon. It will be argued that since PLC's play a special role in the life of the parish, the church needs liturgies designed to celebrate their unique ministry. Translation: we need liturgical validation for the invention of the PLC so that the concept of the PLC is more easily tolerated over time. Liturgies bestow legitimacy and normalize innovation.

d). Parishes administered by female PLC's will produce far fewer priestly vocations than parishes run by priest-pastors. This NOT b/c women intentionally deter vocations or somehow jinx boys into believing that the priesthood is bad--how many priests today trace their vocations back to a religious sister? My point is that w/o active, visible, and regular priestly leadership in a parish, a boy or young man cannot "see" the priesthood in action.
Eeek. And yet, I think he's on to something. What he doesn't say, but I will, is that there are likely nefarious forces, waiting in the wings, ready to pounce on this, to change the Church, and remake it in their image. I speak of the "ordain women" (or womyn) types using this as a spring board to try underhandedly to remake the Church (or Chyrch, maybe). That said, many (likely most) of these PLC's will be good people, filling a perceived need at the request of their Bishops. I hope.
We are being asked to normalize the absence of the ordained ministry; or, at the very least, we are being asked to support purely functional solutions to an engineered crisis until we no longer see the absence of a priest as a problem. In other words, we are being slowly accustomed to the Protestantization of the Catholic Church in the U.S.
A process that started more than 40 years ago, when the spirit (poltergeist, really) of Vatican II got out of its box.

One thing I heard on the radio that was relevant to this was about the feminizing of our culture. In the post-war 60's new empowered woman stuff, out came a bunch of support for girls and women seeking careers. What happened, this lady asserted, was that boys were left behind, and forgotten. After all, what boy wants to go out and do real work (studying, etc.) when some girl can do his job. With all these support structures in place for girls going into technical careers and business, boys have been left by the wayside, and not pushed to their full potentials. I think this is related to the lack of vocations. Add in the fact that now women might be able to do the job of pastor, and it just might be a lost cause.

Pray for vocations hard enough and you might just get one.


No comments: