June 23, 2019

Friends ,

I was present at a recent Vicariate meeting for the priests of the area and local staff of our neighborhood parishes. We were discussing the possibilities that are present for us to cross parish and collaborative boundaries as we offer to our parishioners opportunities to grow and evolve in their love for God and commitment to ministry. We spoke about the tone that is set in the Archdiocese and in our parishes by those in authority or in positions of leadership. Some may question the “right” of one person to determine the direction a diocese, parish or collaborative takes theologically (understanding of God) or ecclesiologically (understanding the Church). However, I believe as the Catholic Church is presently structured there are parishes or dioceses that would be considered more “traditional” or more “progressive” because the person or persons in authority set that tone. I’m not saying that’s good or bad but from my prospective it’s a fact of life. An example that came up was the decision made in our Archdiocese that no one will be in a position of administrating a parish unless “he” is ordained. There may be other dioceses where “lay people” are serving in those positions and doing it very well. That decision’s based on the theology and ecclesiology of the bishop of that diocese. Closer to home, there are parishes that offer the Tridentine (Latin) Mass as one of the options for their weekend Liturgies. There are also parishes that never offer their parishioners the choice of drinking from the cup at Mass. Once again these decisions are usually made by the pastor of the parish. My point is tat in many cases some of these decisions or choices are not open for discussion. They are mandated. Sometimes you or I may disagree with the mandate.

At our Vicariate meeting, the suggestion was raised of having a Synod (gathering of Catholic people in our parishes) to discuss and reflect on Church teaching and how it is decided and how it is followed. Pope Francis you remember had a Synod on the Family a few years ago that was open to hearing from those in leadership and all faithful Catholics. It surely was confrontational: highlighted by the issue of married, divorced and remarried Catholics being eligible for communion.

Meanwhile, a wonderful parishioner of ours recently suggested I read an article in Atlantic by James Carroll titled “ To Save the Church, Dismantle the Priesthood”. I am so impressed when our parishioners give themselves permission to read challenging writings by those who love the Church as much as we do. I highly recommend this article.

One of the priests at our Vicariate meeting said it well “we have to be about building the Church, not maintaining the institution”.

Enjoy the summer!
Father Coyne

 

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