Claude Lacaille, priest

Toronto Launch and Talk - Claude Lacaille Rebel Priets

Claude Lacaille came to Toronto last Friday night and charmed a full house at that boiler room of great new ideas Beit Zatoun. What a great story he had to tell.What a grand priestly life. What a model for young priests.
In the mid 80s he returned from the missions in Brazil to a Quebec he did not understand. At 23 decades earlier he had gone into a hut in Haiti and experienced a transformation: he was asked to give the last rites to a 30 year old woman who was dying, leaving 2 children orphaned.Then a new priesthood was born. He grasped the utter futility of the one of the big SACRAMENTS, formerly called Extreme Unction.There was absolutely no connection with the sacrament and the the broken lives of the radically poor in Haiti, and later in Ecuador. The sacrament had lost its power. It no longer signified anything.It was a text without a context.
And most of the time there is no sacramental connection here in our advanced capitalist neoliberal world.Eucharists are celebrated daily with little effect and lesser knowledge that Jesus celebrated but one-and then was murdered.there is little connection between the “broken bread” on the altar and the price we must pay to heal the world, our disrupted “broken lives” we pour out for God’s kingdom of peace and justice or as the Jews would say for “tikkun olam” for the healing of the world.Capitalism and its blandishments too often takes the dynamite out of the gospel.
In most of the parishes foreign born priests are piloted into a new context and asked to “Priest” God’s people. For the most part, they have no understanding of the Canadian context, their language skills are lacking and they bring a very mediocre theological education at best. As well many are infected with a deep misogyny.They are caught in a time warp, not of their own making. Those who bring them in from Poland and Nigeria to keep a dying institution alive are betraying the Catholic people by being utterly subservient to Rome and refusing to demand the great sin of the Roman church, gender injustice. The necessary talent is right in front of their episcopal noses—married men, women–but these craven bishops will not demand the necessary end of a sexist priesthood.
The worst example is on the margins in Canada’s north.The great Oblate bishops, many from France, for decades begged and pleaded to ordain native ministers, indigenous men whose culture has never accepted celibacy. For 50 years or more Rome ignored the advice of these great missionaries, forced aging men to travel huge distances in Canada’s polar regions. In the same period the Anglican church ordained over 50 native priests—usually married. Similarly in Ontario’s north, Bishop Alexander Carter (d.2002) made the same request of Rome. Denied. It broke his heart.
“We’re stuck”, he told me.

Now we have empty churches. In Trois Rivieres Claude’s hometown, there are 3 parishes.There used to be 17. Yet the Holy Spirit still is on the move, usually outside the stunned institution. The JP ll bishops were afraid of the Spirit, relying on harsh diktats from Rome.The churches emptied. Between 2000-2010 the Pew Research said 30 million Catholic left the Church in that period. The American bishops shrugged their shoulders.They are still autistic. In their latest meeting they set their priorities:
• Evangelization
• Family and marriage (including attempts to rollback same-sex marriage and support for government officials who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples)
• Ending abortion and limiting access to contraception
• Vocations to priesthood
• Religious liberty

 

Nothing about the poor, climate justice etc. Poor Pope Francis having to deal with these men.

The fault of course is not entirely that of a moribund institution. Jews and Protestants are having the same problem. We have moved from a communal paradigm of family, clan and traditional stratified societies to a more dynamic one where people are demanding the freedom to choose. As we saw in Quebec and now in Ireland traditional societies “priest ridden” as James Joyce called Ireland to more fluid and dynamic cultures. This radical change was named in Vatican ll’s Gaudium et Spes(1965).
Today, the human race is involved in a new stage of history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world. Triggered by the intelligence and creative energies of man, these changes recoil upon him, upon his decisions and desires, both individual and collective, and upon his manner of thinking and acting with respect to things and to people. Hence we can already speak of a true cultural and social transformation, one which has repercussions on man’s religious life as well.

The institutional Catholic church thought that the top down hierarchical model of Father knows best would last forever. They built huge seminaries only to find them empty within a few years. Lay people’s theological education exploded. No more,”pay, pray and obey”. Soon the new theological literacy began to quickly make the local parish priest seem outdated. The 60s shattered the mental horizons of so many priests leaving them in the dust, frustrated and often bitter. Their seminary education had nor prepared them for the change. They refused to come to terms with the Holy Spirit’s gift of feminism, thereby alienating both educated men and women. By the mid 70s the most creative priests had left.Those who stayed bravely carried on but many had lost energy as they watched the best and brightest leave and an old institution caught in a paradigm change and seemingly unable to change.A church which thought in centuries was caught flat-footed in the new rapid computer age.

 

The JPll/Ratzinger pontificate was the last dike in the wall, the last failed attempt to resurrect the hierarchical, patriarchal model of church. The best educated generation of lay people had moved on but the JPll/Ratzinger bishops were still in charge of local dioceses. It is painful to watch.

 

But great priests like Claude Lacaille and indeed several others adapted, heard the deeper cry of liberation among the people and responded. They were encouraged by a new pope who had really bought into the vision of the great Council. They embraced the Spirit’s call and were excited. Pope Francis said it well:

 

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We want the Holy Spirit to sleep,We want to domesticate the Holy Spirit, and that just won’t do because he is God and he is that breeze that comes and goes, and you don’t know from where.People think it’s better to be comfortable, but that is not what the fire of the Holy Spirit brings.The council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit But after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit in the council told us to do? The answer, is “no.”

 

Claude Lacaille found his legs once again with the young in Quebec who saw through the neoliberal attempt to marginalize the poor and turn its back on the common good. His priesthood continues, radically integrated with the social struggle we are all engaged in.

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4 Comments »

  1. 1
    mushafta Says:

    What a great story! A real home grown Catholic priest with no foreign baggage!
    Pope Francis has monumental work ahead of him following the disaster left by his predecessors. One wonders if his health will hold up.
    And what a contrast from some of the ultra conservative priests the Canadian seminaries have been cranking out.

  2. 2

    Ted: You have not yet outgrown your adolescence. What absolute unadulterated nonsense. Let me show you:

    he was asked to give the last rites to a 30 year old woman who was dying, leaving 2 children orphaned.Then a new priesthood was born. He grasped the utter futility of the one of the big SACRAMENTS, formerly called Extreme Unction.There was absolutely no connection with the sacrament and the the broken lives of the radically poor in Haiti, and later in Ecuador. The sacrament had lost its power. It no longer signified anything.It was a text without a context.

    What in the world? And how, may I ask, did he come to see that? How did he come to discover that this so called sacrament is not a channel of divine grace, a sharing in the sufferings of Christ, not a source of grace and strength, not a uniting of our sufferings with the suffering Christ? No connection with the broken lives of the poor? What could anyone possibly see that would render such an inference necessary? If a priest gives me the anointing of the sick, how is it at all possible for him to “know” that it has lost its power? That is astounding! Absolutely astounding!

    And most of the time there is no sacramental connection here in our advanced capitalist neoliberal world.

    Really? And how would you know that?

    Eucharists are celebrated daily with little effect…

    Again, how in the world is it possible for you to know that? I mean, what do you do to acquire that knowledge? Do you sit outside a Church and watch the people come out and then wait a few days and turn on the news to see if the world is being utterly transformed in unheard of ways as a result of these people going to Mass? How would you know that the Eucharist received has little effect on that mother who is struggling with a difficult child at home, or that nurse who is about to head off to work at the hospital? How do you know that this sacrament has not given her the strength to love her patients with the heart of Christ? Despite what she claims? What astounding arrogance!

    and lesser knowledge that Jesus celebrated but one-and then was murdered.

    huh?

    there is little connection between the “broken bread” on the altar and the price we must pay to heal the world,

    Again, how would you know this? Do you ask people who are at Mass? Do you question them? I’m really curious.

    Capitalism and its blandishments too often takes the dynamite out of the gospel.

    Yes, and socialism puts the dynamite back into the gospel, as it is doing in China, as it did in the former Soviet Union, as it has done in Cuba, and Cambodia and the Scandinavian countries. Just look at Sweden, everyone has a Chakuzi, paid for by the government, and yet you have to drive 2 hours to go to Mass, in which there are, on average, about 11 people. But they got the idea: Who needs God when you got the government? After all, Jesus was nothing other than the first socialist!

    In most of the parishes foreign born priests are piloted into a new context and asked to “Priest” God’s people.

    Yes, I wonder why vocations are ripe in other countries, but not here. Could it have something to do with the fact that Catholic high school teachers watered down the supernatural wine of the gospel to a social justice ethics?

    For the most part, they have no understanding of the Canadian context,

    Ah, there is a Canadian context, is there? And tell us about that context, Ted!

    their language skills are lacking

    What a bigot!

    and they bring a very mediocre theological education at best.

    Unlike your theological education, right Ted? What was it, one year in England?

    As well many are infected with a deep misogyny.

    Yes, deep hatred of women. Our foreign priest demanded women pile into the crying room for Mass and be the first to leave upon dismissal.

    They are caught in a time warp, not of their own making.

    Yes, that’s right. They don’t drive cars, which is why they take so long to get to their hospital calls because mules are not as fast as a Toyota–patients die before they arrive–but that doesn’t matter, because the sacrament means nothing anyways–they don’t know how to use a cell phone or a computer, they speak Medieval English, they’ve never read anything published after 1300 AD, they don’t even know how to use a microwave oven, I had to come in and show them. It goes on and on.

    Those who bring them in from Poland and Nigeria to keep a dying institution alive

    Yes, a dying institution. And if it dies, then that proves that Jesus was wrong when he said “I will be with you till the end of time”, and when he said to Peter: “I will pray that your faith should not fail”, and that “the gates of hell will not prevail against her (the Church)”. And when that day comes, we can finally say that Jesus was not who he said he was and that Christianity was a foolish religion, a fraudulent religion, and that you should have been a Buddhist, Ted.

    are betraying the Catholic people by being utterly subservient to Rome and refusing to demand the great sin of the Roman church, gender injustice.

    I love it! Gender injustice. Jesus was guilty of gender injustice. Only men were at the last supper. How can you follow an unjust man who was blinded by cultural norms? Ted, wake up! Be a Buddhist! It has to be a better religion, if what you say is true.

    indigenous men whose culture has never accepted celibacy. For 50 years or more Rome ignored the advice of these great missionaries, forced aging men to travel huge distances in Canada’s polar regions. In the same period the Anglican church ordained over 50 native priests—usually married.

    And look what’s happening to the Anglican Church! Now there’s a dying institution.

    Hey, you can ask all you want, but if you ask, if you request a dispensation and do not get it, don’t pout, don’t walk way shaking your head. That’s arrogance. Christ gave the 12 Authority, and they are under Petros, the rock, and if the decision comes back opposed to your initial request, then take that as coming from Christ, who said “He who hears you hears me”.

    Similarly in Ontario’s north, Bishop Alexander Carter (d.2002) made the same request of Rome. Denied. It broke his heart.

    Aaaaah! Poor bishop. A broken heart. If they are not willing to give up the use of the old “goafer” for the sake of the kingdom, are they really fit to be priests of Christ?

    “We’re stuck”, he told me.

    A bishop without faith in providence. Wonderful. No wonder Churches are closing.

    Now we have empty churches.

    We certainly do. I want to hear from Christ, not from some secular ideologue who professes the same thing Marx professed, with some theological vocabulary thrown in here and there to make it sound Christian or Catholic.

    In Trois Rivieres Claude’s hometown, there are 3 parishes.There used to be 17. Yet the Holy Spirit still is on the move, usually outside the stunned institution.

    And where might that be? The communist party of Quebec headquarters? Where Ted?

    The JP ll bishops were afraid of the Spirit, relying on harsh diktats from Rome.The churches emptied. Between 2000-2010 the Pew Research said 30 million Catholic left the Church in that period.

    According to basic logic, that means that JPII did something wrong. He should have instituted pancake Sunday for every Sunday in Ordinary time, and that would have kept everyone there. Or start the Mass off with a good joke. That would have kept them coming.

    The American bishops shrugged their shoulders.They are still autistic. In their latest meeting they set their priorities:
    • Evangelization
    • Family and marriage (including attempts to rollback same-sex marriage and support for government officials who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples)
    • Ending abortion and limiting access to contraception
    • Vocations to priesthood
    • Religious liberty

    Yes, what dumb bishops. Who needs Evangelization? And as for marriage and family, that’s so outdated. Bring on ssm and more abortion and more contraception and our Churches will be packed to the gills. As for Religious liberty, who needs it?

    The fault of course is not entirely that of a moribund institution. Jews and Protestants are having the same problem. We have moved from a communal paradigm of family, clan and traditional stratified societies to a more dynamic one where people are demanding the freedom to choose.

    The dynamite is clearly in the culture. Gosh! Why complain, Ted? The gospel is alive and well, the Holy Spirit is alive and well, and it is in the culture. Let the Church die! Why complain when everything you think the Holy Spirit ought to be delivering is being delivered? Look, Trudeau and Wynne whent to the Climate conference in Paris, medical marijuana is now legalized in all public places. Trudeau is our new Pope! Why are you complaining? Things couldn’t be better!

    As we saw in Quebec and now in Ireland traditional societies “priest ridden” as James Joyce called Ireland to more fluid and dynamic cultures. This radical change was named in Vatican ll’s Gaudium et Spes(1965).

    AMEN!

    Today, the human race is involved in a new stage of history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world. Triggered by the intelligence and creative energies of man, these changes recoil upon him, upon his decisions and desires, both individual and collective, and upon his manner of thinking and acting with respect to things and to people. Hence we can already speak of a true cultural and social transformation, one which has repercussions on man’s religious life as well.

    Not sure what you mean? Recoil upon him? Aren’t these changes a good thing? In any case, it looks like the world is moving in the direction of the Holy Spirit, and the Church is moving back to the 13th century. People are leaving the Church by the droves, according to you–btw, the Church should have been completely emptied by now, since for the past 20 years, you’ve told us that the Catholic Churches are emptying in droves. So is this some magic trick, like pulling rabbits out of a hat from some mysterious location? Just curious about this.

    The institutional Catholic church thought that the top down hierarchical model of Father knows best would last forever. They built huge seminaries only to find them empty within a few years. Lay people’s theological education exploded. No more,”pay, pray and obey”. Soon the new theological literacy began to quickly make the local parish priest seem outdated. The 60s shattered the mental horizons of so many priests leaving them in the dust, frustrated and often bitter. Their seminary education had nor prepared them for the change. They refused to come to terms with the Holy Spirit’s gift of feminism, thereby alienating both educated men and women. By the mid 70s the most creative priests had left.Those who stayed bravely carried on but many had lost energy as they watched the best and brightest leave and an old institution caught in a paradigm change and seemingly unable to change.A church which thought in centuries was caught flat-footed in the new rapid computer age.

    What a brilliant summary of the past 50 years! That explains everything.

    The JPll/Ratzinger pontificate was the last dike in the wall, the last failed attempt to resurrect the hierarchical, patriarchal model of church. The best educated generation of lay people had moved on but the JPll/Ratzinger bishops were still in charge of local dioceses. It is painful to watch.

    But don’t worry, Pope Francis is dying to get back to Argentina, but he’s going to flatten the hierarchy first. Give him another year and we’ll be back to the pre Constantinian Church. Be patient, Ted.

  3. 3
    mushafta Says:

    Well if you ever needed proof of just how screwed up this guy is Ted, you’ve got it right here!
    You’re a very tolerant and patient man Ted! I would have deleted his holiness a long time ago.

    Mind you he is persistent! Give him that!

  4. 4

    If the people are leaving the Church in droves, why are they building new parishes in the Hamilton, London, and Toronto dioceses?


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