The Daily Telegraph reports that Catholics in England are raising a petition asking for married men and women to be ordained.
What amazes and amuses me about these people is that they claim to be Catholics and obviously haven’t got a clue how the Catholic Church works. Do they really think that the Vatican is going to change the rules because there is a priest shortage in England and Wales and a handful of liberals (or as Damian Thompson calls them ‘sandalistas’) are raising a petition?
I’ve lived in England. I can tell you why there is a priest shortage. One of the reasons is that certain liberal bishops actually discourage vocations. They turn away intelligent, suitable candidates who they deem ‘too rigid’ because guess what?–they actually believe the Catholic faith. I can name the bishops, for instance, who refuse to ordain any former Anglican priests, both married and celibate.
Furthermore, (and I have this straight from the horses’ mouth) they have an open agenda to discourage vocations to the priesthood. They like to point to South America where there are few priests and the parishes are run by lay catechists and administrators. With fewer priests they will be able to consolidate parishes into mega parishes, leaving the individual parishes to be run by ‘administrators’ and surprise, surprise, those administrators will be lay women. In other words, ‘If you won’t let us have women priests we’d rather have no priests at all.’
The goofy thing about having lay administrators running parishes is that the naive liberal bishops assume that the lay people who take charge will be people like themselves. However, what if a rad trad lay person takes charge and informs the liberal bishop that he is no longer welcome in the parish? What if a loony charismatic woman takes over the parish? Remember lay administrator will not be taking vows of obedience to the bishop. They could well be hoisted on their own petard.
They talk blithely of this brave new world where the lay people will take charge and ‘be church.’ No one has thought of all the practical difficulties (not to mention the theological ones) of such a plan. Who is going to pay these people a living wage? What about labor law? Who’s in charge? Who will hire and fire? What management structure will be in place? What about benefits? Retirement plans? Housing? The Catholic Church in England is far too moribund, unimaginative and incompetent to manage such an innovation. These are men who couldn’t organize a drinking spree in a brewery, and they want to put in place a total overhaul of the parish system? Get real.
If the Catholics in England want more priests why don’t they import priests from Poland and other countries where there are too many priests? The answer: “they would find it difficult to become enculturated here.” Which is code for “Those Polish priest are too conservative.”