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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Thoughts on Sunday's Gospel

MT 9:36-10:8

"The harvest is plenty, but the laborers are few". Truly this seems to be the case for the Catholic Church in the United States where the number of Catholics continues to increase whereas the number of priests continues to decline. Many are the suggestions for reversing this trend from ordaining woman, to ordaining married men, to making the formation for priests more traditional. I won't speak to these reasons but it seems to me that in the past the position of the priest was seen as a position of honor and power. The post-Vatican II Church has struggled well to end the problems of clericalism but with that attitude went the pedestal on which the cleric stood and the recent clergy scandals only further cast aspersions on the position of the priest. I also think that in the US it is difficult to find anyone willing to take a job for one's entire life - we are used to working in a position for a few years and then transfering to a new job, we like change. So it seems to me that the clergy decline will not end as long as these attitudes prevail - any other attitude may disguise symptoms but do not really provide a cure.

We need to do a much better job encouraging young men to become priests - especially those who would make good priests because if we don't encourage the good ones to become priests we risk being given the bad ones. This means parents should encourage their children to enter religious life and that religious superiors need to do a better job nurturing the vocations that God has sent them.


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