Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

These Dang Kids

As I've mentioned before, I've been (slowly) working my way through "Married to the Church", a book based on interviews with the 29 men ordained from the seminary of Milwaukee in 1969.

One of the things that the author notes a number of times is how much these crop of "Vatican II Priests" dislike the priests currently being ordained at the time of original writing (1985-1988) and the time of the most recent revision (2002). "They're too conservative," the interviewees complain. "They don't care about the laity. They're just in it for themselves. Our church is dying off every day. I feel like a stranger in the new church." And so on and so forth.

At a minimum, that certainly seems to explain one aspect of the "priest shortage". If a certain percentage of current priests can't stand the men they see coming into the priesthood, I would imagine they're not going out of their way to help people get in. (It may explain more than that. If that's the kind of welcome aspiring priests are getting, at least in Milwaukee, that might get rid of a few vocations right there...)

Still the ironic thing as I get farther into the book is that the crisis point for many of these priests was in their first five years out of seminary -- going from an environment where they felt a strong sense of brotherhood with the other seminarians and the faculty to parishes where they often received indifferent or hostile reactions from the older resident priests. Coinciding with the greatest period of confusion and upheaval after Vatican II, those priests who had problems with alcoholism or breaking their vows of celibacy mostly did so in those first few years out of seminary -- while feeling that the Church as a whole was in upheaval, and they personally were unwelcome in their new parishes.

Given that complains of poor treatment by older priests seem central to their discussion of their post seminary days, it seems ironic that no one interviewed recognizes that they are in many ways behaving similarly with the level of invective they aim at priests ordained in the 80s and 90s.

1 comment:

Jeff Miller said...

The type of sneering towards the new generation of priests was exemplified by Fr. Greeley who in a column called them "Young Fogeys"