We are all born in families. Although it’s hard to define exactly what a family is, we all know the good times. Maybe we don’t remember all the details of a family feast but we simply remember that we had joy and fun in those moments. We felt one as a team. The family is a micro society. The Catholic Church belongs to a macro society. But it’s still based on the same principles. We all remember the good times when we were celebrating in the Catholic church.
We became grown ups in faith. We started to question some practices or beliefs……trouble started brewing. Just by asking what others accept unconditionally put us as non-believers. Others started to go away in our presence. Others reported us to higher authorities. We felt that we simply couldn’t connect with the people who gave us our faith! Maybe they will never feel or appreciate our walk of faith. We felt as if our home did not exist any more.
Imagine if the one who is disagreeing with the teaching of the church is a priest! There will be some people who will say that they are completely scandalised! (lost faith). Others see a ray of hope that maybe the priests of tomorrow will be different.
There are people who try to minimise the damage by saying that the priest needs a lot of prayers and support. What these people don’t realise though, that it’s not simply the problem of one priest. Many faithful people are asking the same questions. Shall we deal with these questions or shall we just label that one single priest?
We always believe in the community. All the gospel points to a community based church. We cannot undone what the gospel has built. Yet, there is always an uncomfortable question: when does the community kill my faith? We are not extremists. We are not in favour of the community no matter what! We believe that the community has to take care of the individual and the individual has to contribute towards the community. Yet in real life there are moments when some individuals look deeply into some issues and propose some practical solutions. The community has political games too. Some ideas are promoted or are lost not because of the idea in itself but rather to some sinister lobbying or other political games.
This kills the community spirit. In fact from that day onwards, some individuals may look elsewhere to continue living their beliefs. This is the case of the married priests. Although most of the world will look into the romance story, the married priest is one who looks differently into what we are supposed to believe and live (in a religious sense). In some cases, he has decided to marry his parishioner or friend, because they agree on many principles, contrary to most of the remaining parishioners. This closeness brings them to marriage and of leaving the community.
Others, because of various reasons, may still prefer to remain in the parish and try to convert the others to their thinking. In most cases, the priest will be misunderstood and none of the conservative type of parishioners will change their mind. The good priest will feel all alone and in the area of the lost team.
We feel that the married priest or other priests who have left officially the church should start their own communities. This is because the Catholic Church is inclined to keep all the old ways alive. Hence it’s so difficult to have a real update on what we should really believe in and how can we live our faith in today’s world.
There are countless stories about priests who were successful in this kind of journey. They have been successful in bringing back to faith many people who were classified as ‘non-believers’. Others have approached God and saw him in a completely different way. One needs to just to google such stories.
Many have put their hopes in Pope Francis. Although we wish to have high hopes in his charismatic way of working with people, yet we still feel that the church is far away from a good update of its ways of reaching God. There have been so many changes in life, and the way humanity deals with them, that we strongly think that we need more than just one good Pope to bring about the much needed change.
We firmly believe that once a priest is always a priest. All the priests who left active priesthood are still priests because the ordination (like baptism and the confirmation), cannot be undone. Hence the question if they are still priests is meaningless.
These priests (wrongly referred to as ‘ex-priests’), have to answer the call from several parts of the world, from baptised people in order to help them in their walk of faith. Such a priest cannot refuse to offer his services (as stated in the law of the church – please refer to 21 laws which justify the use of married priests).