Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What About Those "Parish Life Coordinators"?

While HE Bp. Sklba of Milwaukee ruminates* about how to fit the foot into the shoe, some thoughts on 'consequences' from a Dominican priest in Texas:

1) Without a priest in charge of the parish, young men won't have a model of priesthood to aspire to; no fault accrues to Sister for this, of course, but we know young men need male leadership in order to be properly challenged to sacrifice secular enticements. Sister's appointment is one more example of the feminization of the Church and another nail in the coffin of priestly vocations.

While this is a problem, it's not necessarily insuperable.

2) Once Sister and other PLC's (no doubt there will be huge pressure to appoint women in most of these positions) are appointed, it will take an Act of God to move them out when priests become available. Make no mistake: the PLC is not a temporary canonical solution to a temporary vocational problem. This is a move (sideways and under the guise of an "emergent crisis") to undermine presbyteral authority in the parish by emptying the role of pastor of its orders. IOW, this is a move to make it possible to be appointed Pastor (even if not in name) w/o being an ordained priest. Priests will simply become traveling Sacrament Machines. The office of Priest Director will fade as demand for priests grows. Interesting side note: priests now are starting to look a whole like bishops in the Patristic period!

Personally, I think that this is the most significant difficulty with the concept. And there is no question that women are being "primed" for these roles--Milwaukee's Seminary has a number of degree-programs which are populated with women, specifically recruited to those programs...

3). This is the first step in a long series of steps leading us to the "inevitability" of women being ordained priests. (Maybe. Times have changed in the last, oh, 2 years.) Think: altar girls and the arguments used post facto to defend against attempts to suppress the practice: "But we've been using altar girls for years!" Some predictions:

a). even with the availability of newly ordained priests, PLC's will continue to "pastor" their parishes with Fr. Newbie hanging around for "mentoring." He will be graduated to a staff position and made a "member of the team."

b). Within five years (but before the Fr. Newbies arrive) PLC's will demand the right to preach at Mass since Fr. Sacramental Minister isn't in residence and doesn't know the parish. How can he possibly preach to us when he doesn't know us?

In a lot of cases, they are not "demanding" a thing. Rather, they arrogate the function without asking...

c). Look for a new book of ceremonies to appear from The Liturgical Press, Liturgies for Pastoral Life Coordinators quite soon. It will be argued that since PLC's play a special role in the life of the parish, the church needs liturgies designed to celebrate their unique ministry. Translation: we need liturgical validation for the invention of the PLC so that the concept of the PLC is more easily tolerated over time. Liturgies bestow legitimacy and normalize innovation.

Entirely likely, as the Liturgeist Establishment harbors the largest population of lefties and non-orthodox "RC's" in the structure of the Church in the US.

d). Parishes administered by female PLC's will produce far fewer priestly vocations than parishes run by priest-pastors. This NOT b/c women intentionally deter vocations or somehow jinx boys into believing that the priesthood is bad--how many priests today trace their vocations back to a religious sister? My point is that w/o active, visible, and regular priestly leadership in a parish, a boy or young man cannot "see" the priesthood in action.

See my first comment above. As Father indicates below, it remains to be seen. And of course, the work of the Holy Spirit is ongoing...

I desperately want to be wrong about these predictions. Especially the last one. And here's a promise: if it can be proven over time that parishes with PLC's (lay men, women, or female religious) produce equivalent or more vocations to the ordained priesthood than parishes lead by priests, I will be the first to volunteer myself as a sacramental minister to work on a team under the leadership of a PLC. My objections to PLC's here are not about the loss of priestly power...

*Since Bp. Sklba's foot-fitting ruminations are not available online, see Diogenes' column remarking on the Bishop's thoughts here.


diana said...

Interesting comments on Diogenes' column!
My husband says we will win by attrition. These people desperate to change the structure of the Church will not change. People know what is happening is wrong and still go because that's their home parish and won't be forced out. Unfortunately they get touched by the disease...
but anyways, the new young seminarians will come along and eventually will faze them out, or they die off.
Interesting too that Milw. priests are so against foreign priests coming to help out. THAT wasn't part of the plan!

RAG said...

At a minimum, maybe it's time to seriously consider using our existing married prists and limited ordination of married men.

Dad's other observations have some merit, though. He talks in speculation but I was at one of those priestless parishes in Alaska -- in a decent size city, too -- last year.

Dad29 said...

Rag, you are consistently a Leftie in Church affairs.

There are about a million reasons for NOT considering 'married' priests, beginning with Rome's reluctance.