Monday, August 15, 2005

The Pastoral Provision Keeps On

From the Chicago Sun-Times, a former Methodist minister enters the Enchanted Forest:

After months of questioning his calling to be a Methodist minister, Mark Kurowski left the United Methodist Church he'd served for 12 years as a pastor and converted to Roman Catholicism in the summer of 2002.

Kurowski, 40, described the process of giving up his church family in Gary, Ind., and his identity as "Pastor Mark" as one of the loneliest, most difficult times he'd experienced. "I felt like I went to a funeral, and the person who died was me," he said.

Things didn't get much easier when Kurowski, married with five children, decided to become a Catholic priest.

Because the Catholic Church requires priests to be celibate, he had to ask the Vatican for special permission to attend the seminary. Now, three years after his conversion, Kurowski is scheduled to enter Mundelein Seminary in the far north suburbs this fall....

Twenty-five years on, this shows that the pastoral provision (which makes this kind of magic happen) has left the big cities where it was initially prevalent and has now gone into the wider American church. Good sign, absolutely.

But, and there's always a "but," as I was discussing over coffee with one of our great commentors yesterday, there's no way to expand it to priesthood as a whole. How could the church provide family-sustaining wages? How about the cost of extending benefits to a whole family? If bishops were chosen from among the celibate, then any guy who didn't get married would immediately be assumed to be: 1. ambitious, 2. gay or 3. both. And does the church really need that kind of polarization in a presbyterate, not to mention low-hanging fruit for the gossip-mongers?

It's a slippery slope, kids. One that would dilute priesthood and the abilities of its commitment. A married priest always comes to a point where either family or ministry has to give. And when one gives, everyone suffers.



Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Sorry, Rocco, but that doesn't fly. Ask all of those former Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, etc. pastors how their former parishes and denominations (1) supported families and (2) dealt with the alleged conflicts of interest. I think one of the common threads of their success is the existence of a mature laity that is treated like adults. They tend to be in charge of the fabric of the parish and make it happen. They relieve the pastor of many of the problems and responsibilities that Catholic "pew potatoes" assume it the responsibility of the priest. Can Catholics afford a married priesthood? Hmm ... how much is being paid out for the pedophile scandals? How much goes into the maintenance of episcopal palaces and other church properties? What will be wanted will be paid for. Re: the path to the episcopacy: so long as that is presumed to have to be only for the (real or imagined) celibates, the problem will exist. But, then we all know that the original apostles were all celibates, weren't they? And the original presbyterate and episcopacy. If you cause your own problem, you will continue to have a problem!

15/8/05 14:12  
Blogger Disgusted in DC said...

Another factor to consider is that, in Orthodoxy, the cream of the crop tend to marry, leaving the Orthodox episcopate with a much higher proportion of kooks or men who are unmarriagable for invalid reasons than the Catholic episcopate. If all of the clergy are celibate, it is easier to isolate the kookier clergy so that they do less damage to the Body of Christ as a whole. Not that it always works out in practice, mind you.

15/8/05 15:25  
Blogger edgleason said...

Jimmy Mac has it right. A $100K secretary and a $2million house in the Hamptons seems to have been squeezed out of St Pats cathedral collections. Catholics are NOW more affluent then Prods. Pentcostals' blue collar fund raising ability would laugh at Rocco's poor mouth.About 25K priests left to get married since the 60s.... I say call them up for a nickel and forget to dopey 'recruiting' adds.
Frisco eddie

15/8/05 15:32  
Blogger Ruth said...

Rocco - You hit the nail on the head, again! I understand why these protestant pastors are coming over to the Catholic Church--I did myself. My own preference would've been if they had converted without the expectation of being ordained as Catholic priests. I know that some have pure motives because I've read their statements, but others sound like they're on a bit of an ego trip. Ugh.

15/8/05 16:37  
Blogger Ruth said...

I forgot something...just because a pastor is married doesn't necessarily mean he isn't "kooky"...

15/8/05 16:46  
Blogger thomas tucker said...

Le tme just say, as the son of a Baptist minister, that it is absolutely true that either Church or family will suffer when a minister is married and has a family. Usually the family.

16/8/05 09:52  

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