Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Tidings of Bad Voodoo

When people hate you so much they seethe at the thought of you and spend their every waking moment working to undermine you, it's God's way of saying you're doing something right. Look at Jesus....

Well, Mahony (no "e") has a particularly upturned Angeleno who seems to dream of reverting the West Coast church to what the cons see as Christianity's glory days -- not the early church when Jesus walked the Earth with a small band of followers, but the 1950s when the church had a large band and the monarchical, not the prophetic, was in vogue.

Hmm... in the 50s we had a quiescent laity who were taught to earn salvation through silence (and donations) and a state church which successfully pressured the authorities to cover up the crimes committed by the loads of seminarians we were ordaining.

Golden age or gilded age? I ask you, I ask you....

So, with his time machine all ready to go, OneLACatholic gripes:

"Cardinal Mahony, for 20 years archbishop of the largest Archdiocese in the richest nation in the world, will be ordaining only FIVE priests in his Our Lady of the "Angles" Cathedral. Meanwhile, in the Archdiocese of Chicago under the leadership of Cardinal Francis George, 16 new priests were ordained for that see."

This guy loves that "archbishop of the largest Archdiocese in the richest nation in the world," fanfare -- using it to subvert Mahony to George, Neuhaus, Bernard Fellay, Benedict's cats, Deal Hudson, et. al.

But in regard to the gentleman's weeping over only five new priests, a rational observer has to ask: SO?! While it is, indeed, better to light one candle than curse the darkness, the cons flip it and say it's better to scream for vocations than to affirm the laity. Wonderful. What a way forward, electric fences at the altar rail and everything. How constructive.

What ever happened to the "smaller, more faithful church" tack? Has it been revised to be a smaller, more faithful church where the priests outnumber the faithful? I'd rather have five solid candidates who are well-formed than 15, 25, or 40 who sound so nice for no other reason than because there are so many of them. Am I alone in this?

A return to the last century's mass ordinations (like Moonie weddings, only the guys are wearing white) is not the answer. We have to stop living in the past. Look at all the damage the lack of scrutiny over those huge numbers brought the church.

Since the downturn in vocations in the 60s and 70s, the epidemic of abuse cases which marked the pre-conciliar decades similarly declined. Could it be that, after 30 years of pressuring every firstborn son to enter the sem, and for all those cases where priesthood was seen as a means of social advancement, though there were fewer vocations, the guys who were there really wanted to be there? Isn't a vocation tested in fire more solid than one undertaken out of pressure -- 12 year old boys in seminaries, anyone?

In sum, clericalist fantasies of a perpetual seminary fashion show to sweep young boys off their feet will not rescue the church. Bella figura, poster boys and numbers as a measurement of faith are not progress -- "it is love I desire, not sacrifice".... That was today's reading, no?

And the difference, of course, is that love takes effort, but the sacrifices are but a spectacle in the eyes of men. When it loses its meaning, it becomes vain -- not just a spectacle to the world, but a scandal to it.



Blogger Matthew Lickona said...

C'mon now; I rather doubt anybody spends their every waking moment working to undermine you. It only takes five minutes to fire off an angry email.
Are you so sure about that queiscent laity? You and I weren't there, and accounts differ.
And while Mahony may have a point when he says the priest shortage represents an opportunity for the laity to step it up, I think it was a mistake to say in the same breath that the shortage is not in fact a problem.
And what of the diocese that have full seminaries? It's not as if they're going after 12-year-olds. It's not as if there's a culture of firstborn priest-sons any more. What's going on there that isn't going on in LA?

6/6/05 16:13  

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