Facing Clerical Reality
Palm Sunday, 2002
Dear Mr Pead,
I am writing to thank you for the February edition of Christian Order, especially for the articles on the so-called vocations problem besetting much of the Church.
A priest myself, I consider the current dreadful state of the priesthood to be one of the main bleak spots on an already dismal ecclesial horizon. The break with Tradition - be it the collapse of the liturgy, the emptying of catechesis of any significant Catholic content, or the general break-down in ecclesiastical discipline - has wreaked havoc in the lives of priests who are now on the brink of losing their theological identity completely. Once a man of the sacred, a mediator between God and man whose role was considered to be intrinsic to the spiritual welfare of the flock entrusted to him, the priest has been slowly but surely transformed into a bureaucratic pen-pusher cum liturgical red-coat. The present low number of candidates for the priesthood in the dioceses of the United Kingdom is nothing other than the natural consequence of decades of systematic and generalised mismanagement of Church affairs for which the bishops of this country and their immediate predecessors bear a heavy responsibility.
But what never fails to surprise me is how so few of my brethren are willing to face up to the situation in its stark reality. It seems to me that the most virtuous among us groan terribly when this or that cherished tree falls before the axe of modernism, but very few indeed appear to see that it is the forest itself which is being subjected to a sustained and concerted attack. In this we resemble the vast majority of our episcopal masters who, faced with the disastrous results of the ill-conceived policies they have been relentlessly implementing over the past thirty years or more, seek to avoid the declaration of defeat in childlike fashion by simply changing the rules of the game while it is still being played. Thus, if we have no vocations, it is because the Holy Spirit is telling us to promote the role of the laity, and if priests are having difficulty in living out their promise of celibacy then it is because the Holy Spirit is prompting us to accept the idea of married clergy. Theological dribble, of course, but there it is. Such affirmations more often than not go unchallenged in the Church of today.
Therein resides the value of a publication like Christian Order. Yours is the most informed and eloquent of the very few prophetical voices being raised in these islands against the relentless erosion of Catholicism at the hands of mediocre and incompetent Churchmen who are unworthy of the faith which their forefathers fought so hard to preserve, even to the point of martyrdom. In this you deserve the gratitude and prayers of believing Catholics everywhere.
P .S. I am enclosing £35.00 in response to your subscription campaign. If it were possible, I should like the magazine to be sent to a seminarian.
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[Email - 24 November 2002]
I just wanted to say that I had a look at the Christian Order website and it is excellent. I have printed off an article written by Michael McGrade entitled The Wages of Ecumenism. I really can't believe, reading the article, and considering some of the other material you have sent me, how de-sensitized I have become to the Catholic faith. Maybe this sounds a terrible thing to say but I feel that my time in seminary has managed to make me tacitly accept many of the lies that are portrayed as truths by the lecturers, many aspects of the faith that have been watered-down. I would consider myself to be an orthodox Catholic but I am beginning to question a lot of what I have taken for granted. It is wonderful to hear so many people standing up for Catholic truth and not being ashamed to do it, for so long in seminary I, and many others, have had to hide what we truly believe in, and although maintaining orthodox faith we have still become victims of this perpetual barrage of unorthodox lies, brow-beaten into a passive acceptance of so much nonsense. The most worrying thing of all is that many who have passed through seminary and been ordained are now passing this rubbish on to their parishioners, no wonder that Mass attendances are falling, no wonder that people are so ignorant of their faith, they simply are not being fed the nourishing truth any longer, but are being overloaded with unorthodox tripe which bears no relation to the Catholic faith. In Christ, Fr. L