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The catholic church confronts the twenty first

Whatsapp The Catholic Church confronts the twenty-first century just as it began the twentieth century - as a Church divided. At that time, the catholic church confronts the twenty first fractious debates surrounding the historicity and meaning of the Christian scriptures and the Vatican's controversial response to the "threat" of modernism left the Church ill prepared to respond to the seismic cultural, economic and political changes that would accompany the post-war reconstruction efforts.

Between 1962 and 1965, the Council redefined the Catholic self-image. The old hierarchical liturgy became more inclusive - and vernacular, not Latin. The hierarchical Church with the pope who in turn directs the bishops, who in turn direct the priests, who in turn direct the laity, was replaced by the more participatory image of the "People of God.

Established religion was abandoned and the secular state blessed as normative. The last great declaration of the Council was that the Catholic Church was to live in, love and provide service for the modern world. Entrenched obscurantism seemed to be dispelled. An invigorated Church membership enthusiastically set about renewing the whole Church organization.

But a small rear guard was not happy and some of them were in power positions in the Vatican bureaucracy. They were dogged in their efforts to keep things as they had been. They had successes from the earliest years. For instance, as early as 1968 they prevailed in persuading Pope Paul VI to maintain the condemnation of contraception even though his appointed commission advised the opposite.

Then the Vatican began the practice of appointing bishops who were less sympathetic with the Council vision. This became a major strategy under John Paul II, who was elected pope in 1978.

He was a charismatic public figure, but immovable in his vision of a fortress Church. His defensive Polish Church had had to fight every inch the catholic church confronts the twenty first the way to keep its identity under Nazism and then Communist Russia. He brought that strong, but uniform and unreconstructed view of the Church to the papacy.

John Paul II's rule was authoritarian and autocratic. He extended his control over the Church as he appointed replacement bishops. Throughout his papacy, he ensured that they complied with his mindset. The price was that the episcopacy became monochrome, subservient and weak in leadership. Strong on the rhetoric of social justice, he replaced social justice bishops like Helder Camara with reactionary bishops, often members of Opus Dei, who undid their predecessor's work.

Strong on the rhetoric of human rights, he nevertheless silenced theologians he disagreed with without transparent due process. The tensions between this mentality and the sense of freedom that pervaded the Church following the Council gradually gave rise to two major factions. One is the hierarchy; the other is the rank and file laity, together with their local priests. The hierarchy, in this context, refers to the pope and the Vatican bureaucracy in Rome, plus the bishops of the world's dioceses and their bureaucracies.

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The rank and file priests and laity include the parishes, schools, hospitals and charity organizations working at local level. The priests are all professionally trained.

But also many of the laity working with them are equally professionally educated in theology, scripture, organizational systems and social sciences. What Australian Catholic Priests Really Think about their Lives and their Churchgives us a directly personal insight into today's troubles and the way Catholic priests see the problems and are responding to them. In interviews with fifty priests and an insightful survey, we find priests caught between the laity they serve and the opinions and attitudes of their own bishops and the Vatican.

They throw light on a divided and troubled Church. These two Churches today are running on separate and ever more diverging tracks, as Our Fathers demonstrates. Many of the priests and many of their people are critical of the leadership of the bishops and do not agree with many of the policies and moral stands that they take.

They see them as irrelevant to today's world. This outlook seems to be a majority view amongst practicing Catholics. But even this hard core is starting to give up. The hierarchy have their lay supporters; although active and noisy, they are very few in number. Catholic core business The core business of the Catholic Church is, firstly, to spread a vision of the meaning of human life. Members believe that God has revealed himself to humanity in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Crucified and then raised from the dead, Jesus models the fullness of life that God offers to those who believe. Secondly, they form communities of the catholic church confronts the twenty first in parishes and organizations of shared religious interest. Though smaller today, many are still very vibrant. They gather regularly to celebrate the Mass, the great Christian feasts such as Easter and Christmas, and rites of passage like baptism, marriage and funerals.

They provide education in this faith for young and old. A third aspect of the core business is to teach a pattern of moral behaviour based on values taught by Jesus: Major problems There are seven major problems currently facing the Catholic Church in the West: The decline started in 1968 and is still tracking down.

The younger generations have mostly lost contact. While abandoning regular churchgoing, many Catholics still want some of the services of the Church. Many want their children to identify as Catholics as they grow up.

These generally take the step of having their children baptized and are sending their children to Catholic schools at as high a rate as ever.

They seek out the Church for funerals. The priest shortage The Catholic ethos demands that members go to Mass every Sunday.

Under Catholic rules you cannot have the Mass unless there is a properly ordained priest to celebrate it. But there is a desperate shortage of priests.

August 26, 2018

One priest is needed for every four thousand parishioners to provide the sort of parish leadership and pastoral the catholic church confronts the twenty first which has been customary. But there has only been a trickle of applicants for the last forty years.

The Melbourne archdiocese ordained fifteen a year from the 1950s to the 1970s. It needs to be ordaining nine or ten a year to provide anything like adequate priestly ministry today.

But for thirty-five years now, the number has been more like two or three. Over this same period, Religious Orders have collapsed and it is getting harder to recruit lay pastoral workers. Talking up recruitment Conservative writers frequently talk up the numbers of applicants for the priesthood. There was a trumpeting of the entry of seven students for Melbourne in 2011.

The talking up of vocations is self-delusion. There must be a new, effective way of getting priests. Yet the Church administration in Rome and in the offices of the Australia's twenty eight dioceses is paralysed in seeking a solution.

The main reason is the clericalism of the Church bureaucracy. This hierarchy believes that once a man is ordained a priest he is essentially different - ontologically different, to use their terminology. So he must be full-time and the role life-long. He must be male and pledge lifelong celibacy. This package underscores the clerical apartness of the priest. It also is a major reason why there are so few applicants. Celibacy Our Fathers gives clear insight into the central significance of clerical celibacy in the life of the Catholic priest.

A majority of priests believe that celibacy is either detrimental or should be optional.

Despite it being a hot topic the Vatican will not discuss it. One reason is that celibacy enhances clericalism. It adds to the separateness, the sacredness of the priesthood. He declared that the Church did not have the power to do it and, therefore, the matter could not even be discussed. Bill Morris was bishop of the huge, sparsely populated Toowoomba diocese. He wrote a Pastoral Letter in 2006 pointing out the dire shortage of priests.

He called for discussion of the problem including ordaining women. On 2 May 2011, the pope sacked him from his diocese without any due process or transparency. The situation is dire but discussion of options forbidden. Habits become values Max Weber cited the Roman Catholic central administration as a classic example of a bureaucracy.

Confronting the crises in the Catholic Church

Bureaucracies always are at risk of goal displacement. Procedures set up to achieve a goal tend to become goals in themselves - in other words habits become values. This has happened with the clerical prerequisites for priesthood - full time, life long, male and celibate. The priesthood and the availability of Mass are allowed to decline in order to maintain conditions which were originally introduced to raise priestly status but are now destroying it.

The Catholic hierarchy which gained its power under the old system seem unable to adapt to maintain the core value. Since the sixteenth century, the pattern has been to live in the past and resist change and the new knowledge. Vatican II was, of course, out of character.

Paedophilia Paedophilia amongst priests has been an enormous scandal which has rocked the Church.

The catholic church confronts the twenty first

Equally scandalous has been the way it was dealt with by the popes and the bishops. Their first reaction was denial.

An offending priest, when confronted, was seemingly repentant and was, in many cases, reassigned. Often he offended again. By the time psychology recognized the compulsive nature of true paedophilia many reassignments had occurred.