As the people of God are finally finding their legs 50 years after the Second Vatican Council defined the Church as the people of God, the JP 2 bishops are turning a deaf ear to the spirit cry of those they are sworn to serve. These men are convince that they are “the voice of God” in their dioceses, the only teachers.
They are answering in Richard McBrien’s words to “a majority of one—Rome. Theologically they are wrong. By refusing to hear the sensus fidelium, the voice of the Spirit in all the baptized they are doing a great dissrvice to God’s people.
50 years is not a long time.Principled, growing resistance to this episcopal autism keeps growing.
Take a look at what Catholics in Montana re saying
The Priest Shortage Gary Hughes
Bishop Thomas – I had the privilege of meeting you at Christ the King when you first arrived in Montana and I welcome you again.
My comments to you today are about the shortage of Catholic Priests in the Diocese of Helena, Montana and across the United States.
Vatican II pronounced Eucharist the source and summit of our lives! When I celebrate the Eucharist my life is enriched with a connection to the Human Christ. When Christ the King and parishes around the World celebrate Eucharist the Catholic community is unified with one another as the Body of Christ.
I know when you arrived in Helena there had been a long on-going process to increase the number of seminarians. I must commend you and the Diocese for your efforts as I believe there are 12 men moving towards ordination.
For 50 years the laity in the Diocese of Helena and around the world has been asking for an open dialog about the celibate and married priesthood. The ordained are central to the Catholic Liturgy – to administer the sacraments and to preside at Eucharist. Without priests, numbers of parishioners dwindle, causing parishes to close as Holy Family did here in Missoula. As you know, that closure was a long and painful process.
Also, we must ask if it is morally correct to bring clergy from other countries – countries that may need their priests as much or more than we do. The foreign seminaries may also train these ordained in Pre-Vatican II practices and rituals, causing turmoil in the parishes they have been brought to America to serve.
The shortage of ordained clergy creates serious issues: parishes closing; limited hospital visitations; the lack of celebrants for many funerals; enlisting presiders from retirement that may have physical and mental difficulties celebrating a liturgy. The Catholic community deserves healthy priests – both minds and bodies. There is also the consequence of our active priests spread too thin to become an integral part of the communities they serve.
We know historically the church has and can change positions. There were married priests, bishops and popes for 1200 years. There are 10,000 “married priests” in the U.S. and 110,000 around the World. Seventy-eight percent of American Catholics would accept the married priesthood. Doesn’t this statistic indicate to you American Bishops and Rome that there is something terribly wrong with an institutional church that installed and maintains celibacy above its members receiving the Eucharist? With the stroke of a pen, parishes could be filled with ordained ministers that can celebrate liturgy, administer the sacraments and open the word of God.
Pope John XXIII threw open the doors and windows at Vatican II. 2,200 Bishops wanted change in the Catholic Church. In just 50 years a small number of Church leaders have found a way to close those doors and windows – without a council.
I close with a statement from a priest of 50 years – Father John J. Shea, School of Theology and Ministry, Boston College and I quote: “I plead with the American Catholic Bishops that they craft a serious theological explanation of why there cannot be celibate and married priests in the Catholic Church.”
Bishop Thomas, thank you again for traveling to Missoula and listening to our concerns and may peace be with you.