Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A modest theory

Consider the decrease in vocations in America that appears to coincide with the decrease in serious respect for canon law and even some of the coarser points of theology that should have stuck with American Catholics after they finish their run through CCD.

Some suggest that the lukewarm, even blase lay attitudes about the church in this country, and the progressive, banal (insert your own adjectives) execution of liturgy and ecclesial and pastoral work have resulted in a decrease in the number of men recognizing and accepting priestly vocations.

I submit that it may in fact be the other way around. Maybe the priest shortage isn't a symptom of a church that's adrift, a church that would be heretical if it were honestly serious about the oddities advocated in the pulpit or demonstrated before the altar. Maybe the priest shortage is the medicine for it.

The problems with the Church in America are not limited to its parishes, nor to its dioceses. Heterodox and ambivalent pastors by and large come from seminaries that encourage moral and factual relativism and such. If it were my job to make priests and dole out other vocations, I would be making arrangements to minimize the enrollment at deviant or disobedient centers of formation.

Maybe that guest on NPR who thought the Church, if it couldn't survive the sex abuse scandal, would be replaced by something better, was half right after all. Just replace "the Church" with "the church in America" and read "something better" as "the Catholic Church."

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