Access to Priests

The Numbers Game VI

As the expression goes, numbers do not lie. In reviewing the Catholic numbers as they are, some conclusions need to be drawn. Of course, as has already been noted, there are a variety of factors that have brought about the numbers. With or without admitting these factors, there are some obvious trends that must be admitted.

At the top of the list is the trend that is already playing itself out in many parts of the United States -- the faithful have less and less access to a priest. Although many priests do their best these days to be available to the flock entrusted to their care, the dwindling numbers will limit that accessibility. This is an area that the priest himself will have to come to grips with -- he cannot meet the demands by himself and will have to accept his limitations.

It is not that the numbers have been better in the urban and suburban areas like the New York City region. Rather, the ratio of priests to parishioners has been about the same, or even worse, than other parts of the country. It is the large congregations that have kept the ratio somewhat in check. Thus, for the most part, there are almost no priestless parishes in our diocese.

However, that is changing quickly and may change faster than the people want. For instance, in this diocese, active priests over the age 65 comprise about 1/3 of the presbyterate. Within 10 years many of them will retire. Combine this with the fact that the seminary is practically empty leads us to the stark reality that parishes will soon be administered by non-resident priests.

The question is, “Are we preparing for this rapid change?”

Messenger III

The Truth will set you Free...

The Fr. Corapi story continues and, in a surprisingly different approach, his order has released details of its findings. These findings are quite shocking and only go to show how important it is for those who preach the Good News to be immersed in Christ for “the devil is prowling like a lion looking for someone to devour.” We can only hope and pray that he accepts the order’s offer of help and repents of any sins he may have committed. Even in light of these revelations we must all refrain from committing the sin of rash judgment. At this point, we must commend him to almighty God and pray for his superiors.

For anyone who has followed him, we pray that they remain faithful to the message despite the unworthiness of the messenger. In reality, no priest is worthy of the great gift given in the priesthood. Pray for your priests and pray that this revelation be an opportunity for him to seek forgiveness and return to the pursuit of virtue.

Just Wondering?

That Will Do It

One must wonder what the soon to be Mr. Corapi is thinking in his current demands and choice to leave the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Apparently he is disappointed at the progress being made in his case, which is understandable. His decision, however, seems to be a retaliation in his mind. So it must be asked, who is he retaliating against? The bishop in Texas? His religious order? His accuser? Based on his decision to leave the priesthood, it does not appear he has successfully retaliated against any of them. Rather, it appears that he has hurt himself and the priesthood in general. To walk away from the vocation he claims to love is a contradiction at best. His decision will certainly hurt him as he is walking away from the greatest treasure bestowed on his soul.

We know that no priest in this life is without weakness and the taint of Original Sin. It is through the same Grace that we must all endure and strive to overcome that weakness By walking away, he has hurt every brother priest and tarnishes the priesthood in general. Yes, the priest today lives under the veil of suspicion. Yes, there are questions about the current procedures for handling of such situations. But his actions do not help resolve either of these questions. Rather, it now begs the question of the intrinsic place of humility and obedience in the priesthood. His decision and self-victimization have betrayed the vows he took, a betrayal that affects every priest.