Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
August 26, 2007
Church Problems: Getting perspective People of every profession enjoy swapping “war stories,” vivid accounts of their own travails and insoluble problems. Though such exercises can degenerate into mere complaining, they can also be enormously helpful by allowing people to see that their situation is not unique. Indeed, after hearing the “war stories” of others, one may realize that his or her situation is quite good when compared with others.
Two weeks ago, I picked up a newspaper that contained reflections by about a dozen parish priests. Here are a few excerpts.
(From a priest in a third assignment, 12 years ordained.)
I love the job, but too much time is spent on money and buildings. We have four old churches, really two of which are sustainable, but how do you work this out practically? Congregation members can be very proprietorial.
(From a priest in a first assignment, 11 years ordained.)
I think there is a pressure now on clergy to be more a manager and less a practitioner, which was not what I thought I was coming into.
(From a priest in a third assignment, 2 years ordained.)
I felt called to parish life, and still feel I am in the right place, but at the moment it seems very hard work, with little support.
(From a priest in a second assignment, 10 years ordained.)
I am reasonably affable by nature, and enjoy being with people, but I am aware of a number of priests who have been treated appallingly by their congregations. You have to accept that some people will constantly evaluate you from a position of ignorance.
These gloomy comments cited above appeared in the July 6, 2007 “Ordination Issue” of Church Times, the official publication of the Church of England and Wales. Note well: The above quotations were made by five Anglican priests, not Catholics. They make such fascinating reading for Catholics because everything that seems so unique to us - parish mergers, declining supply of clergy, church closings, low morale, and lack of lay involvement - is also happening within the Church of England. And consider these points: the Church of England is a state-supported church, has married clergy, and now admits women to the priesthood. Despite all these things, the number of active Anglican clergy has dropped by 20% during the past 15 years, and church attendance is well under 10% (in the UK, more people now worship in mosques than in Anglican churches.) Like Catholics, Anglicans have a very tough time attracting young people to ministry. Currently the Church of England has only 90 candidates for the priesthood under age 30.
When experiencing a troubling illness, it’s always good to know someone who has the same disease. Such knowledge can lift a person from fearful isolation and foster new hope. As the Catholic Church continues to face great change, it’s good to know that other Christians face very similar problems. Morever, by comparison we’re actually in pretty good shape.
Fr. Michael Kerper
(Printed with his permission)