I saw this feature at RNS today, on a priest who set aside three years in ordained ministry and who found love and eventually family life after he left. A few lines in the article struck me. First this one illustrative of the hermeneutic of silence:
(W)hen he did find a job at a Catholic high school, his bosses told him, as a condition of his employment, he couldn’t mention his time as a priest nor why he left the priesthood.
Interesting. Are we hushing up situations in which people leave, in good standing, not having been involved in any sort of scandal? Gerry Murphy makes it clear he discerned and left ministry. Only then did he pursue relationships with women. That seems a most honorable way of conducting oneself.
Mr Murphy takes a shot in turn:
I think the future of the church is in small, basic communities. The Catholic Church is stuck. It’s not relevant to where people are in their walk today. I don’t have any bitterness. I’ve just outgrown it.
Small, basic communities are not incompatible with the institution or its many aspects: parishes, hierarchy, groups, religious communities, and so forth. Mr Murphy was trained by a system (seminary) to be a system man (priest). It seems to be he’s still carrying some of that baggage. I do think that many people identify with the Church as an institution, and take great comfort in that. I dare say they find grace in it too. That’s not to say that the Church doesn’t require reform and renewal, or that institution-aligned folks may not need personal reform or metanoia.