The greatest crisis of the Priesthood in the history of the Church
Nobody is crying
If there were no more priests hardly anyone would be crying about it. This is the sad statement that we have to make.
We are witnessing the greatest crisis of the priesthood in the history of the Church. Entire countries in Europe are now without priests and all is hushed up. You do not even hear a single bishop raise the alarm, weeping with the faithful, asking everyone to pray intensely for priestly vocations and ordering fasting with ardent supplications that the Lord may have mercy on His people.
It is true, you will hear bishops and heads of curia describing the numbers of this dizzying drop in the presence of priests in the Church. You will hear them calmly - too calmly – drawing up a list of the information in a detached manner as if it were a situation to accept just as a matter of course - in fact, the chance for a new Church – more of the people.
In the coming years, in Italy, land of Christian antiquity, we will witness the disappearance of parishes and some [radical] changes, unthinkable even a few years ago, in the simplest structures of Catholicism, of parish communities, where Christian life was [once] natural for everyone. But the absolute majority of busy Catholics will pretend nothing is happening, because their pastors are already doing so.
It is a “ catastrophe”, an “earthquake” - but nobody is crying about it – there is a pretence that nothing is happening. There is a pretence that nothing is happening because the fairytale of the Council’s “springtime” must continue. Any historical verification and evidence of a crisis without precedent are denied.
And a less than Catholic-like future is being prepared for us.
“Restructuring” the organization of Christian communities is already being discussed, i.e. creating space for the lay people (as if they never had enough of it in these past years) and a new type of Christian faithful is being invented who will become the administrators in the parishes and will replace the priests. Lay faithful, duly “clericalized”, will maintain the churches and while waiting for a Mass, they, like adult Christians, will do the preaching of the Word...
...yet nobody is crying about it - nobody is praying and crying out to God.
Perhaps they are not crying out because someone has been preparing this upheaval in the Church for some years now. They have debased the Catholic priesthood, transforming priests from men of God into social workers for the community. They have reduced the breviary and prayer. They have imposed secular dress so that the priests are like everyone else. Priests were told to keep up with the times because the world was moving forward. They were also told not to stress their own importance, but to share their responsibilities with the faithful.
And the final blow: priests were given a Mass that has become the preparation for the catastrophe in the Church. No longer deep prayer; no longer adoration of God Who is present. There is no longer intimate union with the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, but, instead, there is a holy supper with the community. Everything is centered on man - not on God - and a lot of extenuating talk about building community. It is a Mass which is a constant coming and going of lay people on and off the altar, a training for that coming and going of ladies and gentlemen who will shortly be running our ex-parishes without priests.
With the “worldly” Mass, the universal priesthood of the lay faithful has been cultivated and its meaning twisted. The baptized are a priestly people inasmuch as they offer themselves in sacrifice, in union with Christ crucified, offering all of their life with Jesus. The faithful must sanctify themselves; this is the universal priesthood of the baptized. The faithful do not participate in the Holy Orders of the priesthood, which are of an other nature and conform to the Priesthood of Christ. It is through the Sacrament of Holy Orders that Christ renders Himself present in the grace of the sacraments. If there were no more priests, both the Church and the grace of the sacraments would come to an end.
Martin Luther and Protestantism did exactly this: they destroyed the Catholic priesthood by saying that everyone was a “priest”, underlining specifically the universal priesthood of the laity.
In the matter of restructuring parishes, things might end up like that.
It might have been different to confront this crisis with minds and hearts holding the priesthood in high esteem, with the knowledge that the priest is one of the greatest gifts for the Church and all people. But this has not been the case. The crisis will be dealt with after years of total confusion in the lives of the clergy; after years of being unaccustomed to daily Mass and Catholic doctrine. So the faithful will do without the priest. This is already happening. And when a priest arrives, they will not have a clue what to do with him, having become accustomed to the belief that the Lord will save them without priests and sacraments.
We think it is not right to pretend that nothing is happening.
This is the reason we are asking our faithful to pray fervently to the Lord, so that He will grant a lot of priests to His Church, as He once did.
Dear faithful, in this month of June, which is the time dedicated to Holy Orders, let us have the courage to ask for this grace, even with tears, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
And let us cling to the most precious gift of the Mass of all time – the Mass of Tradition. It is only this Mass that will give new priests to the Church of the Lord.
[Editorial: Radicati nella fede, June 2013, bulletin of the Catholic community of Domodossola and Vocogno, Diocese of Novara, Italy - Translation and tip: Contributor Francesca Romana]