Pope Benedict Closes Year of the Priest–Whew, It’s Over!

Could there have been a worse year for Roman Catholic clergy, especially its upper echelons? Fuss about whom the pope didn’t single out in his “begged forgiveness” message to conclude the Year of the Priest:

Victim groups said they were also disappointed that the pope did not mention the responsibility of bishops, who have been accused of moving predator priests from parish to parish instead of defrocking them or turning them over to the law.

What could we expect? This isn’t the Year of the Bishop, after all. It was an expression of mea culpa of the JPII variety, though:

We too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again.

And that says something. But some ask, is it enough?

SNAP’s Peter Isely would prefer heads to roll, and quickly:

The pope should have announced an absolute zero tolerance approach to priests that abuse around the world, ensuring that they will be immediately removed from priesthood. This is a much more important move than showing remorse.

Yes, actions do speak louder. But the Church also needs to take responsibility for its clergy, that they aren’t just set loose on the world once booted from the active priesthood.

All in all, not a good year for the priest. Abuse revelations rock a number of European countries. Mandatory celibacy and men-only prescriptions still not enjoying a virtual unanimity among the clergy, let alone the Church as a whole. At least MR3 wasn’t implemented this year. Pope Benedict gave us the Curé of Ars when maybe we needed Peter Damian as the patron saint of 2009-10.

A desire, I think, for continuity with the old days–or, rather, our rosy perceptions of the old days. The Church is still very much in need of serious reform. Continuity remains a second-shelf virtue.

Top image credit: Pier Paolo Cito, Associated Press

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to Pope Benedict Closes Year of the Priest–Whew, It’s Over!

  1. smf says:

    In my opinion the patron for this year was a good choice. It was a reminder of what a priest could and should be, yet also a reminder of the fact that even good priests have difficulties to face and problems of their own, too.

    Finally, I should note the year isn’t quite over the final since, after all the last of the plenary indulgences for the year is scheduled for June 19th, one calendar year after the start (rather than today, which is one liturgical year).

  2. Florence Awunu says:

    We thank God for the gift of the Catholic church and the Priesthood among many other gifts bestowed on the church of Christ. We pray for the ever abiding presence of God with us all, especially at this trying moments, amen.

  3. Jimmy Mac says:

    Now can we please have a decade for the laity – the 90+ percent of the church who have to make things work in many cases in spite of what the priests do?

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