Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Cath News' blog - for once a post worth reading!

Kudos to Cath News for publishing (presumably with some very firm arm twisting involved!) a response to the attacks on the recruitment of overseas priests.

The case for overseas priests

It is truly amazing the contortions people will go through to justify their opposition to such priests. 

On the one hand the Age today reports that one-third of all practicing Catholics in Australia come from non-English speaking backgrounds.

But according to pushers of the 'liberal' agenda, the needs of our migrant community - not to mention the rest of us for whom it is the state of Holy Orders and orthodoxy that matters, not their colour, language or country of origin of said priests - that is irrelevant. 

Take this commenter on the blog post [!]:

"Any rudeness exhibited to priests from other countries is inexcusable.

Personally, I would like to very politely ask them to go home."

Oh dear.  Something tells me she entirely missed the point of the blog post.


Richard Collins said...

I believe we have a slightly different situation in Great Britain where Bishops are using priests from the developing world so solve, as they see it, a vocations crisis.
These priests bring a different culture with them, for example, Indian priests often dress in dhotis or other forms of regional Indian dress. More divisively, many of them seek to offer Masses in a variety of languages for very small minorities in their parish. This means that British parishioners have to attend Mass in Tagalog or whatever. Latin would be a good solution to this issue. Priests from the developing world are surely needed in their own countries and I think it quite wrong that we should be poaching this talent from where it is needed most.
English and Welsh Bishops (in the main) ignore the potential offered by the traditional orders who have priests ready and willing to take up parish duties.
If my comments appear uncharitable I apologise, they are not made in any sense of prejudice but, rather, out of as concern that the "Catholic" way of liturgical worship is being distorted in the UK,

Kate said...

Actually Richard I think they are rather uncharitable and more!

1. In Australia too the primary reason for recruiting from overseas is the lack of vocations here. That is changing somewhat in some dioceses, but the bottom line is that the choice was bring in priests or have no mass at all. So which would you opt for?

The Liberals certainly prefer no priests, but we shouldn't!

2. While I agree Latin would be a preferable option, if the majority in the Church are going to insist on the vernacular, then logically one can hardly object to mass in minority languages. A similar problem exists in the US in regard to spanish. Personally I find mass in a language I can't understand vastly preferable to mass in a language which I can understand all too well - understand the banality, the ad libs and all too frequent other abuses.

3. As to clothing, that really does sound like outright prejudice to me. I really don't see the issue save that it would surely be preferable to insist on clerical garb for all!

4. As the Cath blog piece makes clear, the missionary impulse has always been part of the Church. England and Wales would have a very different heritage if it hadn't been for those Italian missionaries sent by St Gregory; and Germany in turn would be a very different place if St Boniface and his anglo-saxon companions had not in turn evangelised Germany for example.

5. Historically dioceses have sacrificed in order to help out each other in times of need. But actually at the moment many Asian dioceses have excellent ratios of priests to people, are positive powerhouses of vocations, and are well able to spare some to help out around the world.

6. I'm all in favour of letting in the traditionalist orders to help out - but let us not exaggerate their potential in this regard. Most churchgoers still people regard a TLM as you regard mass in Tagalog and simply will not go. And while most Asian priests are willing to say mass in English, the FSSP and ICK generally are not!

7. So if you want to preserve the 'Englishness' (or Welshness or Scottishness or Irishness) of the Church there, become a priest or have your sons do so; organise lay associations for the preservation of catholic culture; and so forth.

And make friends with some of those imported priests, because if the Australian experience is anything to go by, they are likely to be a lot more sympathetic to the cause than those ageing liberal hippy priests are!

Quasi Seminarian said...

The doctors I visit are all from overseas.

Some of my school teachers were as well.

A lot of the parishoners in my home parish are from overseas.

Australia has never rid itself of the white Australia policy.

MC Man said...

Many of the Indian priests are members of the Eastern Rite Syro Malabar or Syro Malankarite churches who become By Ritual to be able to offer the Latin Rite Mass.I think that saying the mass in latin would be a bit too much for them.

Richard Collins said...

Kate, Priestly garb is dictated by Cano Law. The issue of no Mass or Mass in, say Tagalog, may be the case but the Bishops have steadfastly turned away traditional applicants for the priesthood. That does not necessarily mean the Latin Mass, it means young men who have a holy and profoundly spiritual outlook. So, we could be self sufficient in priests.
I am not against foreign priests provided that they are liturgically in line with the Church's teachings with regard to the liturgy.
But I am totally opposed to tempting them away from their home countries where the need for spiritual succour is, arguably, much greater than in the West.

Kate said...

Richard - I take your point about bishops and traditionalist vocations, there clearly has been an issue in the past, though in Australia at least that seems to have changed in several dioceses.

On clerical garb, bishops' conferences can establish their own norms and allow 'legitimate local customs' - which in Australia appears to mean anything goes (we even ahd the spectacle of a bishop on an official Lent video in shirt and tie). Either way, it is up to the local bishop to insist on the law being followed!

I do have a problem with this concept of 'tempting' them away though. First I'm not sure it is at all clear cut who need spiritual succour the most - on the face of ita thriving and rapidly growing church in Asia vs a collapsing and dying church in the West! And while other factors may well come into it, why should we not assume it is the call of the holy Spirit to these men to act as missionaries in our countries?

Richard Collins said...

I believe the need is with the poor and the destitute. I have not attempted a head count of priests per head of Catholic population but I'll lay odds that the developing world has far, far fewer priests per thousand Catholics than Australia or Great Briatain.

Kate said...

The stats are available on catholic hierarchy by diocese but not country - it seems to vary immensely, with some seemingly hard pressed, but many extremely priest-rich.

On balance though, from what I can see the Third World is doing much much better vocation wise as a proportion of population than we are (no surprise there!).

And of course the traffic goes both ways, as the mission of the FSSP highlighted recently in the Remnant illustrates (and I believe there are some nuns from the french monastery of Jouques not far away from them).

But in any case, in my view it is the spiritually poor we need to be most concerned about!

PM said...

And another positive - they gave a plug today for a book on the Trinity by a good theologian, Neil Ormerod, who has been revindicating the trinitarian theology of Augustine and Aquinas against their fashioable detractors.

Pity they also ran the Scwartz stuff again.

JI said...

Hi Kate,

Thanks for writing in favour of foreign priests. I think on the whole white Catholics do not mind the mass being celebrated by a foreign priest, but there are some (like Richard here) who have reservations. I've generally been quite impressed with the foreign priests I've met. I've never seen one wear a dhoti. Some may say masses in their own vernacular if there is sufficient number of people from their ethnic community, but they are usually side by side with English and Latin masses. No one is forcing local people to attend those masses.

Considering the lack of priests in western countries, and the flourishing of Christianity in the global south, I can’t see any alternative to the reverse missionary drive. It’s actually quite exciting in many ways.

Best wishes,