Thursday, 16 December 2010

A call to pray for the conversion of priests....

A reader, Arabella, has alerted me to the latest "Swag", the publication of the National Council of Priests, which, as I mentioned a day or two ago, is full of incitement to dissent and error.

I had been thinking of commenting on some of the articles in detail, I may yet do that, but I'm frankly reluctant to link to such a dangerous publication, and in any case I think perhaps the time has come for a more systematic response to the problem of liberal priests.

Pray for heretic and disobedient priests?

In the past, I've put up a list of priests sympathetic to (ora t least who have said) the EF Mass to pray for.  I'll put up an update of that shortly, to which any new names or additional information can certainly be added.  Orthodox priests certainly need our prayers.

But I'd propose to supplement that list with names of those at the opposite end of the spectrum.

The "Gaudium et Spes" generation are of an age when conversion is particularly urgent.  And we the laity can surely help in this process with our prayers.

And as a side benefit, such a list might provide a checklist for action by the proper authorities, who might have missed, for example, the names of those priests (and perhaps we should include religious also for this purpose) who came out in support of women's ordination on Cath News for example (and if ever there were posts that should have been rejected, these are surely they!) in the context of the Melbourne priest recently in the news.

NCP: Dangerous prejudice, ignorance and folly

It is certainly not news that the Australian National Council of Priests, whose members include around a third of Australia's priests, including several bishops, are a hotbed of liberal dissent.

Schutz over at Sentire Cum Ecclesia reported on their evidently appalling conference earlier this year.

Although I have to say my favourite on this topic is the (once again deceased?) Cooees commentary on the subject, which I've stolen for my sub-heading here "The National Council of Priests: Where Immaturity and Prejudice meet Ignorance and Folly."

Still, it is pretty disappointing to see an official publication of an organization of this kind so blatantly inciting dissent and targeting other priests.

Disciplinary action?

This is one where one really has to emphasize with the bishops who face the question of what to do about it.

There is an obvious case for disciplinary action against those who have openly signed their name to articles containing erroneous propositions.  Indeed, there seems to be a mood among some priests at the moment, presumably as a response to seeing everything they've believed in for the last fifty years being rejected by the younger generation, to call it on.

But it is difficult to take action in the face of still small numbers of new priests.  Up until now the strategy seems to have been to wait them out - they are certainly of an age when retirement or death is reducing the numbers rapidly.

Still, if it comes down to it, what is better: a flock without a shepherd at all, or a flock led by a wolf?  The first can be preyed upon, it is true, but the second has no chance whatsoever.

There is also a case for some substantive action in relation to the publication itself (taking it off the internet would be a good start) and the organisation.  Presumably this is a matter for the bishops conference?

Perhaps some refresher courses are in order?

It would of course though be preferable to actually convert these priests back to Catholicism.

In many, probably most, cases their initial formation was probably extremely poor (witness the Melbourne priest whose criterion for belief is his 'gut-feeling') and was a long time ago.  And refresher courses in dissent in the the form of the annual conferences of the NCP simply does not help.  Bishops should perhaps consider refusing to allow their priests to attend future ones lest they be led further astray or reinforced in their disobedience.

One approach might be to put on some refresher courses (could the next NCP conference be converted into a re-education camp?!).  Dr Tracey Rowland could for example run a seminar series to engage them on approaches to Gaudium et Spes, and perhaps someone like Fr Aidan Nichols (who has been engaged in a very helpful debate on the interpretation of Vatican II in the UK Herald on which I'll post shortly) could be brought out to help.

Or perhaps some sabaticals could be arranged in a nice strict, traditionalist monastery or perhaps one of the FSSP seminaries in which they could experience a little asceticism, learn (or re-learn) the traditional mass, and sit through a few theology refresher courses.

What can the laity do?

One can of course lobby for the kind of action I've suggested above. 

But above all we can pray.

My thought is this.  What if we compiled a list of names of priests especially to be prayed for on particular issues.  Most of course will have an all round liberal perspective, so we might conclude with a general intention for orthodoxy.  But focusing in might be helpful, and provide an opportunity for some catechetical notes to be circulated around.  Some issues might be matters of doctrine, others matters of practice.  Doctrine is of course the more important, but the way we pray is the way we believe, so both are closely intertwined.

But I'm thinking we should particularly concentrate on those who have spoken publicly on particular issues.  And we could pick an issue a month to especially pray for obedience to the Churches teaching and pastoral decrees on, perhaps alternating between doctrinal and practice issues?

January, for example, marks the start of the process of learning the new missal, so its successful implementation, and the cooperation of all priests in this endeavour could be the prayer intention.  Now I know the new missal is of less direct relevance to those attending the EF, but it does mark an important step in the right direction so is I think a cause well worth supporting.

And we could assemble a list of names of those who have expressed their views to the contrary on this subject as a special focus.

February might be for those who dissent on impossibility of women's ordination.

And so forth.

What do you think?

Suggestions for names and intentions?

And any thoughts on a suitable prayer to use for this purpose?


A Canberra Observer said...

Yes, pray for them.

However the pragmatist in me is tempted to the view that what we will actually have to wait for is for all these grey-haired ecclesial hippies to die off.

Terra said...

You don't believe in the power of prayer?

You are happy for priests to be condemned to hell for the sin of heresy?

Now I know that many of these people have caused an enormous amount of pain to many of us, damage to many others, and can certainly not, as priests, claim invincible ignorance! But still, they are priests, and surely we should try, quite hard, to bring them back in.

A Canberra Observer said...

Yes Terra I believe in it.

Yes I hope they reform.

Experience suggests to me however that many won't.

Perhaps I'm just in a bleak mood at present ...