Tag Archives: reform

Clergy we’ve put our confidence in…

Some sectors of the Church’s leadership is trying to understand the pastoral care of people by wrestling with how to minister without being connected with lavish and flagrant lifestyles. We are still not finished with the sexual abuse perpetuated by clergy as new cases still surface; there’s been the lack of transparency with regard to finances, the abuse of pastoral and personal authority and now we dealing with bishops and other priests living “high on the hog.” Think of the real or imagine problems of the bishop of Limburg of last year, but now we have the archbishop of Atlanta coming clean about his insensitivities regarding a good use of real estate following the criticisms of the archbishop of Newark spending outrageously on his future retirement home. It remains to be seen what some newly installed bishops will do with their episcopal palaces supported by diocesan monies (Hartford, Bridgeport, Albany, Chicago, et al).

Clearly, Pope Francis’ perceived simpler living arrangements is causing a much needed review of current practices. His insistence on a simpler approach is better received by the laity than the clergy. Is this real issue? Some sneer at the Pope standing in the coffee line, meeting people at the front door, and talking with common person (read: riffraff). But  the questioning of lifestyle didn’t start with Pope Francis; the desire for the clergy, high and low, to live in a simple manner, can be pointed to in recent memory to Pope John Paul II and carried on by Pope Benedict XVI, and to many, many saints.

So, it’s no surprise that Catholics in the USA, and in some other places have been questioning the clergy’s use of their pastoral authority, their use of money –the church’s and their own, and the clergy’s ability to be chaste, their use of alcohol, their good relationship with men and women (so many seem to hate women) and the their ability to be true spiritual fathers. Catholics are exhausted by having to rehearse with the higher clergy that over-the-top attitudes on just about everything concerning the Church militant is tiresome and resulting in departures from the parish. It is no exaggeration to say that the faithful have been offended by clericalism, the arrogance of the clergy who preach one thing and do another, clergy who live and act like members of royalty and who lacked the virtue chastity (i.e., not been sexually continent –this problem is in addition to the criminal behavior of sexual abuse of minors).

What we have are zombie priests. Men ordained to the order of priest but have little concern for their own soul, their intellect, the care of souls (especially the people they don’t particularly like), who can’t celebrate rites or preach very well and who prefer to watch soap operas and drink. Is the priesthood promised us by Christ? made know by the saints? taught by the Magisterium? NO. We need a new Saint John Vianney for substantive renewal.

Pope Francis speaks to the cardinals: the Paraclete is the supreme protagonist of every initiative; never give in to pessimism, to bitterness

The Church needs reform, as always, a personal conversion. Turning to Jesus Christ is an act of freedom. What baggage do we have that would prevent change, or hinder me from confessing and living differently as a Christian? Reform starts not with institutional works, but with oneself. Governance is not the only issue that we have to be vigilant of with this new papacy; conversion of life starts locally and spreads. As Francis said yesterday in his first Mass as the Bishop of Rome, we need to walk, to build, to confess with, for and by each and every person so that we see the glory of God. We need to untie the knots that were spoken of by Saint Ireneaus. All this talk of reform includes the Curia, it is not business as usual. The Pope will remind us and lead us by his own life. He now holds office as the Vicar of Christ. He has suffered much close to  To that end, today Pope Francis spoke to the gathered cardinals in the Sala Clementina. His address follows.

Pope Francis greeting ASodano Mar 15 2013.jpg

This period of the Conclave has been filled with meaning not just for the College of Cardinals but also for all the faithful. During these days we have felt almost palpably the affection and solidarity of the universal Church, as well as the attention of many people who, even if not sharing our faith, look upon the Church and the Holy See with respect and admiration.

From every corner of the earth a heart-felt chorus of prayer was raised by Christian peoples for the new Pope, and my first encounter with the crowds filling St. Peter’s Square was an emotional one. With that eloquent image of a praying and joyful populace still fixed in my mind, I would like to manifest my sincere gratitude to the Bishops, priests, consecrated persons, young people, families, and to the aged for their spiritual closeness which is so touching and sincere.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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