Monday, June 12, 2006

A study in contrasts -- Albany, Pittsburgh and Fargo

I hate to harp, but sometimes one simply has to because it appears that certain people just don't get the correct concept.

Two stories from the Dioceses of Albany and Pittsburgh show that their leaders are incapable of getting enough priests to care for their flocks. This despite the fact that Albany has approximately 450,000 Catholics in its territory and Pittsburgh has 780,000.

So both dioceses are resorting to using deacons, nuns or laity to run parishes and reducing the role of priests to that of sacramental confectors and administrators. (So much for the title of "Father." Why don't they just start calling them "robot"?) For some reason, that's supposed to satisfy every need.

Contrast this with the Diocese of Fargo, whose former bishop, James Sullivan, just died. In 17 years, he ordained 80 priests (that's nearly five a year on average) in a state with a declining population and a Catholic population in his diocese of 80,000. (Who lives in North Dakota? 642,000 people placing it at 47th out of the 50 states. I suppose that's great if you want isolation.)

So what's the difference? The bishop. Bishop Hubbard is a known dissenter. Bishop Wuerl, though he's orthodox, exudes no excitement about the priesthood. He also seems to have been infected by the ideas of Archbishop Hunthausen as shown by the fact of resorting to laity and nuns to run parishes. These kinds of leadership get you nowhere.

To think that the Church can be run with laity is simply absurd. Sure, we can do some things, but we do not have the spiritual wherewithal to do what is needed -- because we are not ordained. Yes, that old teaching about the permanent change in character does still apply, especially since the priesthood is something ordained by the Lord Himself and not a human invention.

Bishop Sullivan, on the other hand, knew that the Lord is still calling young men to the priesthood. It's simply a matter that they don't know it and he made every effort to do what he could to help them realize it. This was a man truly after the Lord's own heart and he and the Diocese of Fargo were rewarded for it. May he have an everlasting reward as well. Requiescat in pace.

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