Thursday 23 October 2014

Killing Beauty, Killing Reverence

Everyone who loves the traditional liturgy should read what Mulier Fortis has to say about the sad, reactionary events at her Blackfen parish.

What kind of formation leads a priest to choke off the wellsprings of devotion in his parishioners?

This is really very sad.

Catholics are not Presbyterians; we do not choose our priests. Parishioners have to take the priest they are sent.* The most we can do to protest an autocratic or irreverent priest is appeal to the bishop, who probably ignores most complaints for the first six month anyway, knowing that people dislike change. There's also the complication that there aren't enough priests to go around anymore. I think this is partly the laity's fault for A) using contraceptives and B) discouraging their sons from becoming priests. So what comes around, goes around.

But obviously the laity is not entirely to blame, and it is not surprising that the laity take to blogging as (perhaps) the one way of getting the attention of bishops and the rest of the faithful. This, no doubt, is condemned by some as "gossip." However, as I recall from some feminist thing I read as an undergrad, "gossip" against people in power is one of the few ways the powerless can fight back.

There is gossip that maligns someone weaker or your equal in strength, and that is pretty bad. For example, there is no reason whatsoever to tell anyone you saw a married acquaintance having a drink in a pub with a man not her husband. Big fat deal. It could be her brother. It could be a colleague whose girlfriend has just dumped him. It could be me having yet another Polish lesson with yet another Polish Edinburgh Uni student. But if you tell, or the person you tell tells, the story right, you could do serious damage to the reputation of the married lady.

However, there is "gossip" that is merely the expression of your dismay about someone in authority, like your boss or your parish priest, who misuses that authority. This is not gossip that ruins reputations but tells the truth and demands justice.

We really need to get down to brass tasks. As I said in the Catholic Register, a priest's primary tasks are to say Mass and to hear confessions. Naturally he has a number of other things to do, too. But if he refuses to say Masses that feed (and have fed) the souls of his parishioners, and if he refused to be available to hear confessions than, really, who does he think he is? A social worker?

 *I very rarely go to my parish church because I prefer the FSSP apostolate, which does not as yet have its own parish here. We share a church with its ordinary parishioners, the way the Maronites shared my childhood parish church.

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