What do young people really want?

Fr. Joseph Kramer of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, pastor of the Extraordinary (1962 pre-Vatican II Latin) Form Parish in Rome, speaks eloquently about the yearnings of young people today. He simply says “young people” – it would be very interesting to have data on how many, which ones, where. Do his words ring true for you?

 

H/T: WDTPRS.

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134 comments

  1. Last summer I had the chance to visit SS. Trinita dei Pellegrini for Low Mass. Since SS. Trinita is perhaps the unofficial “mother church” of the FSSP, I was expecting something extraordinary about the Extraordinary Form. While the Low Mass was nice, it could have been weekday EF Low Mass in the town five miles west of me. Why did I not experience an epiphany within the dark cool of a small church on a Roman summer Sunday?

    If I were asked my opinion on the Platteville controversy even three years ago, I would have dismissed the concerns of St. Mary’s laity as the grumblings of persons who cannot appreciate the gift of traditional Roman liturgy. At that time I would have scorned the parishioners of St. Mary’s for not recognizing the inestimable Extraordinary Form placed before them. Who would not appreciate the subtleties of the EF, the sublime and fluid union of prose and performance?

    “Experience” and its fruits cannot be predicated on a dichotomy between a perceived authenticity of the EF and a perceived novelty in the OF. Who could say that the solace from and anxieties and world-weariness which the OF offers millions of Catholics each day is any less profound than a meditation of the on the scores of blessings in the EF? While it is true that the twentieth century had experienced cataclysms of extreme barbarity and extreme optimism, the consolation offered through liturgy never ceases.

    I am still quite attached to the EF. Even so, the joy of the EF springs from an intent study and appreciation of the text and liturgical action, and not the misappropriation of a liturgy as a shield against change.

  2. I think Fr. Kramer is looking at the young men who want to join the priesthood and making the erroneous assumption thtat all young people are like them. It’s not surprising that he comes into contact with conservatives, given what he does, but if what he believed was true, there would be more, not less candidates fro the prieshood, and young people would be joining the church in droves, not leaving it.

    1. Sample bias, big-time. Fundamental analytical error by Fr. Kramer, who needs to be sent to remedial statistics.

  3. Most of this is wishful thinking. My young adult children want answers too, but not formulas from another age.

  4. I wonder what percentage of post-Vatican II Catholics are actually looking for more of what the traditionalists feel was lost.

    Saying that younger Catholics want more structure or more of what the church used to have may be more of a traditionalist’s wish list than reality.

  5. Our young people are an enigma, I don’t know that they know what they want and I’m not sure I know what they want and what I think I know that they want is what I hope that they don’t. But when you look at the baby boomers who became parents in the 1970’s, their children in the 1980’s were more conservative then they. I think this from Wikipedia captures it:

    “Family Ties is an American sitcom that aired on NBC for seven seasons, from 1982 to 1989. The sitcom reflected the move in the United States from the cultural liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s to the conservatism of the 1980s. This was particularly expressed through the relationship between young Republican Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) and his ex-hippie parents, Elyse and Steven Keaton (Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross).”
    Maybe the children of Alex P. Keaton are reacting to their parents and that’s the way it is.

    1. Well, I have seen several generations of young people who lack enitrely the visionary political attitudes of the 1960s and are thus malleable to conservative political influences. I think baby boomers like myself would agree that young people are more mature on sexual issues than the 1960s hippies were. This is in a context where contraception and gay rights are taken for granted and where the mystification around sex no longer needs to be broken through as it did in the 1960s. We are living through the paroxysm of the “Catholic restoration” just now, but it does not seem to me that its zealots have persuaded the vast majority of Catholics. I fear for young priests who imagine themselves in the vanguard of a winning cause.

      1. Fr K says modernity seems old-fashioned to the young. Does he mean that they no longer believe in truths held to be self-evident, such as all men created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Probably. You never know how far these people are ready to go in their rejection o fhte Enlightenment.

      2. Does he mean that they no longer believe in truths held to be self-evident, such as all men created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

        Probably not, Fr. Joe.

      3. Well, I have seen several generations of young people who lack enitrely the visionary political attitudes of the 1960s and are thus malleable to conservative political influences.

        Hah! Perhaps they just have a different political vision than you do!

    2. My biggest concern with a very large segment of our high school and college kids in my area is that they don’t harbor any real ill-will toward the Church or her traditions, they just seem to be apathetic or disinterested. They’ve grown up in households where attendance at Mass is optional and sporadic and they are immersed in a Protestant culture that is highly individualistic. And a very high percentage of our Catholics especially in my parish are former practicing Protestants who as Catholics are minorities in their own families and thus the Protestant ethos for good or bad (often it can be good) remains with them.
      However, those families that practice the faith regularly and make sure it is practiced and prayed at home have children who seem to me to be more engaged in the life of the Church and also seem to appreciate a more traditional approach to the Mass, music and spirituality. And of course those young people who avail themselves to our EF Mass (a very small percentage of the young) are very mature, intentional and disciplined in the Faith. I find our home-schooled children the most interested in the faith and all of the Church’s traditions.

    3. Your observation of children being more conservative than their parents runs directly counter to many studies finding out that people under 30 tend to favor gay rights regardless of their background – whether the young person is un-churched or a member of a conservative, fundamentalist group, they believe in gay rights.

  6. I think what young people want is choices so they can find a spirituality within Catholicism that resonates with them – traditional liturgy and devotions is one such choice, and likely seems to be growing because it simply wasn’t available until relatively recently.

    1. Jack, that’s true; another option has opened which hasn’t been available for 40 years or so to our young which is much more disciplined, serious and no-nonsense. But that may not be for everyone.

    2. re: Fr. Allan J. McDonald on May 5, 2012 – 3:40 pm

      I agree that the Extraordinary Form offers many, including young people, a sense of identity through the rubrical precision and seemingly invariable nature of the EF (although the Tridentine liturgies have traveled through many incarnations before arriving at 1962). The reality that all liturgy evolves strongly suggests that an appreciation of the EF on aesthetic value alone is an appreciation built on an insubstantial foundation.

      The keystone to a lasting appreciation of the EF resides in a lifelong love of the Latin liturgical language. Baroque splendor is meager fare compared to the intrinsic rhythm and semantics of liturgical text. The literary style of Roman liturgy is found not only within literal content but also the literary style which underscores the theological message. An appreciation of liturgical Latin also cultivates an appreciation for the Pauline reforms and a recognition of the organic relationship between the two liturgies. The typical Latin texts of the “new prefaces” of the Pauline tradition are often just as, if not more beautiful, than the relatively limited fourteen prefaces of Trent.

      I do not wish to criticize the theory that highly aestheticized liturgy will draw new adherents to the EF and a “reform of the reform” (as per NLM perhaps). This theory might prove fruitful for some. For others, aestheticism and discipline arrives first through the printed page.

      1. As a demograhpic those ages 18-35 are the largest group missing from the Church. They don’t care about EF ,OF, or rubrical precision. It seems that they have not been able to come to grips with a Church that says one thing and does another. The ongoing sex abuse scandal, which we seem to gloss over, is one area where they see glaring hypocrisy. We are both a glorious and sinful Church. Our discussions here are at times very esoteric and really removed from reality. They are are hungry for God but are not being fed by the Church. The Evangelical Church has targeted this age group of young Catholics and are welcoming them with open arms.

      2. The keystone to a lasting appreciation of the EF resides in a lifelong love of the Latin liturgical language.

        I think that’s true for you. But in my experience there are many entry points and knowing many people who have not very good comprehension of Latin who’ve spent decades involved with and attending the EF at great personal sacrifice, it’s clear that lasting appreciation of the EF doesn’t depend on “love of the Latin liturgical language.”

        The literary style of Roman liturgy is found not only within literal content but also the literary style which underscores the theological message. An appreciation of liturgical Latin also cultivates an appreciation for the Pauline reforms and a recognition of the organic relationship between the two liturgies. The typical Latin texts of the “new prefaces” of the Pauline tradition are often just as, if not more beautiful, than the relatively limited fourteen prefaces of Trent.

        And proving the point that Latin is not the keystone! You describe yourself above as “still quite attached to the EF,” seemingly suggesting that you are not as attached to the EF as you once were. Indeed, if it were all about the Latin, if the Latin was the keystone there would be little reason not to prefer the OF in Latin.

      3. re: Samuel J. Howard on May 7, 2012 – 8:51 am

        Sam: I think that’s true for you. But in my experience there are many entry points and knowing many people who have not very good comprehension of Latin who’ve spent decades involved with and attending the EF at great personal sacrifice, it’s clear that lasting appreciation of the EF doesn’t depend on “love of the Latin liturgical language.”

        This is true. An knowledge of Latin is not often necessary to appreciate the EF. For some, the plainsong and polyphonic heritage attracts them to more solemn forms of the EF. Others value a perceived continuity with the Roman liturgical tradition which has sometimes, but not always, been severed through certain OF celebration styles. Still, would many who do not know Latin attend an EF which has been entirely translated into English (i.e. the English Missal)? Perhaps some would, but many would not. Latin, then, occupies a place of importance regardless of individual comprehension.

        Indeed, if it were all about the Latin, if the Latin was the keystone there would be little reason not to prefer the OF in Latin.

        I attend the OF frequently and not only on weekdays. When I attend the OF on Sundays, I most often attend an OF which is a hybrid of English and Latin celebrated ad orientem — that is, in a liturgical style most contiguous with the Tridentine. I have an attraction to, but not exclusive adherence to, the EF. A recognition that the OF has improved on the EF in certain areas, such as the prefaces, is a salutary admission of organic continuity and improvement. I am convinced that Sancrosanctum Concilium intended for certain enrichments such as the addition of new proper compositions. 1962 is not the high-water-mark of Roman Christianity.

      4. On the 1st point, I do not deny the importance of Latin, just that it is not the keystone of a lasting appreciation for the EF liturgy.

        On the 2nd point: A recognition that the OF has improved on the EF in certain areas, such as the prefaces, is a salutary admission of organic continuity and improvement.

        That you have more of something is not ipso facto an improvement. Among other things, the issue of the paradox of choice is relevant here.

        I am convinced that [SC] intended for certain enrichments such as the addition of new proper compositions.

        To call them “enrichments” begs the question of if they are improvements. There’s little doubt that the addition of new proper compositions is a long-standing part of the Roman rite, but the huge number of prefaces added at once is unprecedented since at least Trent.

        In fact, I don’t easily find anything in SC about increasing the number of prefaces. Missale Romanum in discussing the new prefaces (DOL 1360) doesn’t footnote SC as it does e.g. in discussing the expanded lectionary (DOL 1362).

        But even if the new prefaces were written verbatim into the documents and approved by the council, it’s a disciplinary matter and their addition can be a bad idea.

        In considering if it was a good idea, I’m reminded of the experience of Etienne Gilson in hearing the familiar Preface of the Trinity so many Sundays of his youth. The young Etienne Gilson today would hear many more prefaces, be exposed to many more ideas through the prefaces, but they might not stick at all. Sometimes depth is preferable to breadth.

        1962 is not the high-water-mark of Roman Christianity.

        Good thing I don’t think that then! (And you’d be hard pressed to find anyone attached to the traditional liturgy who thinks that.)

  7. Choice of traditional liturgy and devotions are perfectly fine. If it provides people with a way to enrich their relationship with God, then why should it be denied them? But I think many are afraid that today’s “choices” especially if favoured by the current decision makers, will become tomorrow’s requirements and their own choices curtailed.

    1. I agree. There is a now a choice between the two liturgies. I read some commentators on the web who want to see the English Mass eliminated. I have seen some parishes that only offer Massed in Latin. Is that what is in the future?

  8. On a recent trip I went from the Church of the Gesù, the Jesuit mother church, to Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, the equivalent for the FSSP. I have to admit I found the latter dark and rather dreary after the splendour of the Gesù.

    Nonetheless I have always enjoyed Fr Kramer’s recorded messages – he has not only a sonorous voice but also a balanced and thoughtful attitude toward the Tridentine Mass and in particular a highly positive view of Vatican II. In this broadcast he characterises the preconciliar Church as “cold” and the postconciliar Church as having warmer and closer relationships between priests and bishops, clergy and laity, laity and laity.

    No-one wants to go back to the Church of the 1960s. I remember it well. There was very little contact between us, and a lot of the priests and nuns and brothers really suffered from a general coldness. There was lots of discipline but there wasn’t enough contact. And that’s why the clergy, especially, and the religious, threw themselves into the big revolution at the end of the 1960s.

    1. I have had the opportunity to speak with Fr. Kramer on several occasions, and I would certainly place him among some of the humblest and holiest priests that I have met. Thank you for sharing the quote from the RV broadcast. I think it underscores an essential point in the discussion: there is no “going back.”

      Even the staunchest of supporters of the TLM and/or ROTR don’t want to go back to the militaristic and frankly ‘un-human’ approaches to formation. We need those warmer relationships among all the People of God of every vocation, we need the collaboration, we need to learn and grow together. We need structure and discipline, but not the rigidity that characterized the period immediately prior to the Council. In a word, we need “balance” – something lacking in the immediate periods on either side of the Council.

      In your description of Santissima Trinità, it is worth noting that the FSSP has only held the parish for less than 4 years. They have been gradually making repairs doing restorations to the degree they are able.

  9. Certainly some young (and older) people support the Mass in Latin. Many young (and older) people support the Mass in English. (Both the Latin and common-language Mass are traditional, as far as I see). What percent of the church-going population supports the Mass in Latin? I have not heard of any outcry for a regular Latin Mass in our parish.

    1. There was never any outcry in parishes for the liturgy to be changed, as it was last year, but that didn’t prevent them, did it?

  10. I’ve never known of a young priest who would disagree with a single word in this video. I’m sure there are some out there but I’ve never heard of one or met one. It’s a far more sophisticated generation of priests than we saw in the 80s or 90s — in the the sense that they have a broader and more ambitious longing that extends beyond just teaching to liturgy and music in particular.

  11. As possibly one of the “young people” who is being conjectured about I can report I have no interest in the Tridentine Mass nor any unreformed liturgy prior to the Council. I have no interest in the Latin language used liturgically, except maybe musically. I do have interest in well celebrated liturgy, good theology and meaningful spirituality – this doesn’t necessarily, and sometimes doesn’t, correspond to “orthodox,” “traditional,” “faithful,” “magisterium,” and all those other dog-whistle tags.

    My last Tridentine Mass at Mary Mother of God, DC was a hoot. A socio-economically well off group from Georgetown U dawning chapel veils and saddle shoes alla Norman Rockwell American kitche. Priests pretending to be subdeacons. Gregorian schola concert, the faithful held hostage in silence. Then a celebrant ascending the pulpit and throughout the homily trying to get the assembly to respond with hearty amens!

    I have found second career vocations to be usually balanced even when more on the traditional side. I can handle that. Young priest, however, straight through the system may want to control liturgy and music but typically have no education or talent in either. Their vision of lace and tchotchke is then foisted on all.

    It is clear to me that young people who invest in the church can tend to be more conservative generally. Us “others” give it a chance but for a host of factors may drift or walk. Congratulating ourselves and playing to a verbose minority who stay, especially believing its confirmation of the “correct” vision, is a mistake. The american church is currently experiencing way too much of this “your not holy enough”. I’d rather meet a young priest who can actually preach to the hungers of the heart rather than spending his time viewing Whipple’s chasubles. Sadly, the lack of true vision leads to authoritarianism and clericalism because most of us don’t believe in chasubles, but we will believe in a convincing Word,…

    1. re: J. Thomas on May 5, 2012 – 10:17 pm

      While I respect your liturgical preferences, a characterization of the traditional Catholic movement as bourgeois and engrossed with liturgical ephemera is not entirely accurate.

      J.: My last Tridentine Mass at Mary Mother of God, DC was a hoot. A socio-economically well off group from Georgetown U dawning chapel veils and saddle shoes alla Norman Rockwell American kitche.

      During a brief stint at university in Washington D.C. almost fifteen years ago, I worshiped at Mary Mother of God. I did not notice a predominance of any one socio-economic group. Even so, do not well-heeled persons also require spiritual nourishment?

      J.: I’d rather meet a young priest who can actually preach to the hungers of the heart rather than spending his time viewing Whipple’s chasubles.

      There are not a few traditional preachers whose erudition and eloquence provokes great thought in congregations. Why, then, judge a preacher by the embroidery of his chasuble? It is true that a good number of traditional Catholic preachers do not rely on anecdotes and light humor to convey points. I hunger for intellectually astute preaching. Should not my hunger be fed?

      The Platteville controversy is not only a question of lay rights. Interwoven into the controversy are stereotypes. These stereotypes only further obscure reconciliation.

    2. The american church is currently experiencing way too much of this “your not holy enough”. I’d rather meet a young priest who can actually preach to the hungers of the heart rather than spending his time viewing Whipple’s chasubles.

      Like in your comment!

  12. Yes, Fr. Kramer’s words (and Jeffrey’s words) ring exactly true for me .

    I am a 27 year old seminarian.

    I grew up in a parish that was ‘average’ – moderate politically and liturgically, adequate CCD, youth ministry that balanced teaching and serving, good faithful people. When I went to college in 2003, I began to research the Faith to be able to respond to questions posed by Protestant classmates; in this, I stumbled upon and learned about the liturgy, the music, and the depth of the Faith. Immediately, I recognized them as good, beautiful, and true, but was left with a challenge — I could not see them in any of the parishes I had been in.

    It seemed like the patrimony of the Church had been jettisoned, something that the ‘true Church’ would never do. This personal crisis nearly led me to leave the Church and seek those who had not lost these things. It was the ROTR that showed me that we had not lost the art, music, and ars celebrandi; it was the 1988 indult that showed me that we had not thrown out the TLM; it was a whole host of things in further research that showed me that the teachings of Vatican II and the postconciliar Liturgy could be seen in continuity with those before before them.

    “Modernity now for young people is old-fashioned.” For me, it nearly became the stumbling block that scandalized me out of the Faith.

    It is worth pointing out that the seminarians shown in the video are not FSSP – they are American diocesan seminarians (I know several personally). The guys in formation today aren’t invested in the battles of the past generations. We have seen that the world is neither something to be embraced or eschewed, but rather to be confronted with healthy suspicion. We have no desire to entertain the progressive theological vision – we presuppose that those issues are settled. We want to preach to the hungers of people’s hearts, but we want to do so with the mind of the Church. We want to serve God and save souls.

    1. A great many of us want the Faith in its full intensity — not dumbed-down, not watered-down, not whittled-down.

      It is my observation that those who express such sentiments are rarely female, members of the GLBT community or people whose marriages have failed. It’s also noticeable how many straight males who loudly applaud current hierarchical teachings on sexuality and women priests feel the bishops stray when commenting on government budgets that hurt the poor!

      1. Brigid,

        It’s true – the only category that you mention that I claim is ‘straight male’… but I knew plenty of young women at the college I attended before seminary as well as the college I attended during minor seminary that still want the same thing – they want the Faith. One of my fraternity brothers from college is now civilly divorced and in the process of seeking an annulment that he may or may not receive. These things are not said lightly – they are difficult teachings – but they are the Catholic Faith. Pastors have to teach about the hard issues in a way that doesn’t marginalize people, especially those who already feel vulnerable because of the Church’s teachings; “Go and sin no more” is only meaningful when preceded by “Neither do I condemn you.”

        So far as the second part that you mentioned- I must confess I’m a recovering neo-con that not long ago was a critic of the bishops. I’ve come to realize that it’s good for the bishops to be criticizing Republicans on things like the Ryan budget and foot-dragging on immigration reform, just as it’s good for them to be criticizing the Democrats for their advocacy for abortion and contraception. The bishops get plenty of flak from the political “right” and “left” (if you don’t believe it, take a look at a conservative blog the next time the USCCB says something on immigration or social justice).

        It’s exactly on social issues like immigration and the government budget that we as Catholics can’t whittle down the Faith – one of the greatest gifts we can share with modern society is the Church’s social doctrine, which transcends current party platforms and could transform our society if we allow it to take root.

  13. It seems that the Vatican are planning a list of forbidden websites (Index Situum Intertramae Prohibitorum). Pray Tell might make it.

    1. Sort of a virtual book burning. They can’t stop the websites, so they’ll tell people they’re not allowed to go to them.

  14. Joe, can you imagine the chaos that an index of prohibited websites would cause?

    Many of “the young people” want discipline and order, but they also want to be able to blog and tweet and comment to their hearts’ content, often hiding behind pseudonyms (Mad Trad, Trad Lad, Sad Trad, Trad Dad … and one who calls himself ‘Burn the Heretics’) and lashing out at bishops whom they feel are not sufficiently tough: Abp Nichols of Westminster comes in for special treatment.

    Michael Voris leads the baying pack, along with a priest who lives in a secret location, some 5,000 miles from his bishop.

    They think of themselves as anti-modernists but they communicate with the essence of modernity.

    1. often hiding behind pseudonyms (Mad Trad,

      A man so anonymous his photograph is on his blogger profile!

      Trad Lad, Sad Trad, Trad Dad … and one who calls himself ‘Burn the Heretics’) and lashing out at bishops whom they feel are not sufficiently tough: Abp Nichols of Westminster comes in for special treatment.

      My participation on the internet has (almost always) been under my own name, and indeed, I’ve spoken out against the use of pseudonymns in making anonymous attacks on people, but the internet culture of “handles” is different than “hiding behind pseudonymns.”

      Michael Voris leads the baying pack, along with a priest who lives in a secret location, some 5,000 miles from his bishop.

      It seems to me that if you want to criticize someone publicly you should do so and not write in a circumlocution for only insiders to understand.

  15. Young people will not support a church that demeans women and discriminates against many including gays and lesbians.
    Language may be important but ACTIONS speak louder.

    1. John,

      That is a very much a very general blanket statement. In a qualified sense, I believe you’re right – “young people” aren’t going to support any organization that demeans or discriminates against any group of people.

      That said, for many young people, including virtually all young seminarians and priests, the Church’s teachings are the bottom line.

      It is not demeaning to women that the Church will not ordain them because the Church lacks the ability to do it; that isn’t the Church’s fault. It is cruel (and in fact demeaning) to women to play games with them and give some a hope that the truly impossible is possible.

      Likewise, for many young people, the Church’s teachings on sexuality are settled– “gay marriage” is a nonsensical term because homosexual sexual relations are intrinsically morally evil. Likewise, so is fornication and adultery, even if there is a reality of cohabitation and remarriage after divorce. It is not discrimination to call these sins just what they are — serious sins, the kind for which people go to hell. It IS discrimination to say that those who commit such sins are incapable of handling the total truth of the Catholic Faith.

      A great many of us want the Faith in its full intensity — not dumbed-down, not watered-down, not whittled-down.

      1. Mr. Goodwright – sorry, but your comments are so opinionated and outside any type of reality, it is almost amusing.

        You state: “…..priests, the Church’s teachings are the bottom line.” Any study over the last 30 years and especially currently points out the inaccuracy of your statement. Priests, on the whole, do not support the curial beliefs around birth control, end of life decisions in hospitals, some of the more recent liturgical dictates (e.g. new translation), rules around eucharist and divorced; rules around marriage; etc.

        – you state: “….the Church lacks the ability to do it; that isn’t the Church’s fault.” Whose is it – God’s? Really, even the Papal Biblical Commission has stated that there are no scriptural grounds to deny women ordination. Most theologians dispute the current curial arguments. B16 appears to have invented a new theological category to defend shutting down discussion – not infallible but “definitive” so much so that it is infallible.

        – you state: ““gay marriage” is a nonsensical term because homosexual sexual relations are intrinsically morally evil.” Again, most priests don’t support or defend this “intrinsically morally evil” position. (you do realize that an estimated 50% of all US clergy are gay?) This teaching is not infallible and is based upon an outdated sexuality approach and theology. Watch what is happening in Seattle as the archbishop tries to get signatures to overturn the gay marriage state law – 25+ pastors have refused to follow his lead.

        You state: “…..total truth of the Catholic Faith.” as defined by whom? you appear to have a very narrow understanding of church faith or even dogma. It is not just the “institutional” church pronouncements. Faith as developed, evolved, and continues to do so.

        Do hope your seminary is able to broaden and educate you. Your current comments reveal a type of fundamentalism.

      2. Bill,

        You misread what I said. I realize that many priests do either dissent from the Church’s teachings on WO, gay marriage, and end of life issues, or they are afraid to speak about the issues for fear of ruffling feathers.

        However, I was speaking of YOUNG priests – those only recently ordained and the seminarians still in formation. The same group that both Jeffrey and I described as virtually ALL of the seminarians and young priests that we know, but that you still discounted.

        The Oath of Fidelity that all seminarians must sign before they can be ordained to the diaconate (or that anyone must take to assume ANY teaching office exercised in the name of the Church) asserts that the candidate assents to the following:

        – The Nicene Creed
        – Firm faith in all contained in Scripture, Tradition, or taught by the Ordinary or Extraordinary Magisterium
        – Firm acceptance of all proposed definitively by the Church in Faith and Morals
        – Religious submission of will and intellect of teachings of the Pope or College of Bishops, even for non-definitive teachings (emphases mine).

        Therefore, accepting the impossibility of WO; accepting the immorality of sexual intercourse outside (heterosexual) marriage; accepting the current teachings on birth control/divorce and remarriage/end of life issues are among the BARE MINIMUM simply to sign the oath to be accepted into the Order of Deacons — unless the candidate wants to swear it falsely.

        If that is your definition of “fundamentalism” then we all have a big problem in a few years when these men – the same happy, smiling seminarians in the video – become pastors. Few will really push the EF or the ROTR (most are indifferent to either, a few are even opposed), but every seminarian that I know is on board with the doctrinal teachings of the Church, that is, with the teachings of the Pope and the College of Bishops.

      3. Did not misunderstand you. My experience of many seminarians is completely the opposite of what you state. If, in fact, your last few paragraphs happen, the crisis in the church will only continue.

      4. It’s amazing then that we have two polar opposite experiences of the men in formation in seminary.

        The Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity are a predecessor to diaconal ordination already, so the men either hold to it or are lying in their promise.

        I don’t think the two of us really agree on what the “crisis” even is. I think we both see it as a crisis of orthodoxy — but it seems that while I (along with many others) see it as one of too many Catholics not knowing or holding to the Catholic Faith, you (and many others) see it as one of an imposition by force of a lingering “curial faith”.

        What do you see as the crisis? What do you see alleviating it?

      5. Not by blind obedience. Would disagree on how you formulate and interpret “teaching authority”, “magisterium”, and oath of office.

        Crisis – it is thinking that catholic faith is monolithic; that all “authority” is hierarchical; that requires the faithful to not grow up as “adult catholics” with primacy of conscience; rather, it sees faith as a journey – not a test, not a black and white exercise in who is correct and who is not; etc.

        The Oath to a bishop – it is really an oath to God thru the church and its representative, the bishop. Your list of “authentic” teachings ignores the reality that the church’s teachings have developed and changed. That faith lives in a “gray” area – it is not black and white. That moral theology is a living journey that ultimately sheds light on action, not inanimate “truths”.

        Would recommend studying Bishop Geoffrey Robinson’s “Confronting Power & Sex in the Church: Changing the Culture”

        Money quotes:
        – “Morality does not consist solely in doing right things; even moral, it consists in working out what is the right thing to do, what is the best thing to do, what is the most loving thing to do in any particular situation. If a 40 year old man is still, in all things, doing what his mother tells him to do, we know something is radically wrong. He hasn’t grown up, he hasn’t learned to take responsibility, and his growth has been seriously impaired.”
        – “Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis. Far too often, orthodoxy, that is, right beliefs, has been put before orthopraxis, which is, right actions. So that, if a priest is loyal to all papal teachings, his moral mistakes can be easily forgiven; but if he is not loyal to even one teaching, no amount of good actions will redeem him. A pedophile priest can be forgiven, but not someone who is unsound on contraception, or the ordination of women.”

        Sorry, unable to find link to talk.

      6. Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis. Far too often, orthodoxy, that is, right beliefs, has been put before orthopraxis, which is, right actions.

        There cannot be an opposition between orthodoxy and orthopraxy, because belief is also an act with moral implications. The unorthodox believer is by that fact not right acting.

      7. Bill,

        I don’t advocate “blind obedience”. In my own experience, it wasn’t until I started wrestling with doctrines that I really came to own them for myself. We need well-formed adult Catholics (particularly lay Catholics), in fact the New Evangelization requires them.

        However, having Catholics who operate on primacy of conscience requires them to have a well-formed conscience, and in my opinion, it is there that the crisis lies. We are trying to put the cart before the horse. Indeed, our understanding of many teachings has developed, and circumstances put many things into the “gray” area, but some IS in black and white (otherwise we would be left with utter subjectivism and relativism). There are still actions that are objectively good, and others that are objectively evil, with a great deal of things in between. If we focus on the black and white only, we end up with a morality that is every bit as dysfunctional as if we only focus on the gray.

        Incidentally, the same manner of subjectivist thinking arises among some in SSPX, when they make the distinctions of “conciliar Rome” vs. “eternal Rome” (i.e. the way they understand Tradition). I think you would agree with me that this type of thinking leads them astray.

        Re: formulations: Unless you picked up on something I missed in my formulations, I’m speaking of “teaching authority”, “magisterium” and “Oath of office” as the Church herself has formulated them.

        Re: Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis: I think that Bishop Robinson draws a false dichotomy here. Jesus said “neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” – It is no more difficult to forgive someone who is unsound on the teachings of contraception, or WO, or a host of other things, provided they STOP TEACHING HETERODOXY. In fact, the repentant heterodox priest would be more easily placed back into a parish, compared to a repentant pedophile, who due to the mental roots of his sin, could never be trusted in a parish.

      8. For clarity’s sake, the pedophile priest falls into your category of heterodox priests, since he does not accept the immorality of sex outside of marriage.(or, of he intellectually accepts the immorality, he lives as if it is not immoral.)

        And currently pedophiles are not returned to parish ministry in order to protect the parish, not because of the “mental roots” of his sin or anything else inside.

        These points have consequences for your comparison of the heterodox and the pedophile priests.

      9. It seems to be a conflict between those who want to accept and build their lives upon the Faith as it is, and those who want to build the Faith upon accepting them and their lives as they are. Both can be seen as defendable positions, perhaps even from a moral position, but the two are not compatible in a single, consistent vision of the church.

        As a side note, my experience with our current seminarians is that they tend more towards the traditional. I prepared the “First Mass” for one of our newly ordained last year… OF in Latin with Gregorian Propers and ad orientem as permitted in the Missal.

        I am currently preparing another such “First Mass” in the upcoming ordination class, as well as fielding requests from several other seminarians who want something “other than the kind of music we normally have at Mass.” For someone who has been in this profession as long as I have, this is an incredible year.

      10. And currently pedophiles are not returned to parish ministry in order to protect the parish, not because of the “mental roots” of his sin or anything else inside.

        Jim, I think Clarence’s point is correct (if poorly phrased) and you’re unneccessarily muddying the waters.

        Repentant pedophile priests are not returned to parishes for the protection of the faithful because, as a result of the psychiatric (mental) roots of their sins, they can’t be trusted not to reoffend.

        Clarence has merely pointed to a more proximate cause than you have.

      11. Obviously, we will just have to agree to disagree. But, it is so easy to just dismiss Bishop Robinson’s experience and wisdom by saying he makes a “false dichotomy” – based upon what? Your fundamentalist & confusing response? Actually, you make the incorrect dichotomy. Your point is that the “sinner” must stop preaching heteroxody – as defined by who? And is that really the goal – just stop “preaching heterodoxy” – who cares what the sinner really believes.

        Here is an excellent series of talks by Anthony Padovano about church positions that actually were “heterodox”if you understood “natural law” and the dignity of the human person but those who pointed this out were condemned for teaching “heterodoxy”:

        http://www.catholica.com.au/gc2/ap/002_ap_210408.php

        A partial list:

        Democracy
        free speech and academic freedom
        free press
        separation of Church and State
        the abolition of slavery
        the rights of women
        reproductive rights and responsible sexual autonomy
        the right of either partner to terminate destructive marriages
        the elimination of the death penalty
        the rights of conscience over inquisitions and the suppression of free inquiry
        a sense that the Christian Churches should not be divided nor the world religions in conflict with one another
        workers’ rights and benefits and collective bargaining
        universal education and health care
        the legitimacy of the scientific method
        an independent judiciary

        He concludes by saying:

        “Hope is justified, I believe, because the paradigm the world and the Church works with now, even when it does not acknowledge this, is open, resilient and inclusive. No one claims Vatican II was a closed Council. Indeed it was so open that it ended far more advanced in its decisions than even the most ardent liberal had anticipated. Despite occasional and severe reactionary moments, the contemporary Church works with Vatican II. Church discourse is conducted in the light of this model. The Church told us in Vatican II to see it as a less total reality than we once thought it was. Its document on the modern world, its instruction on ecumenism and world religions, its declaration on conscience and religious freedom taught that the truth of God was in the secular order (even without the Church) and in other religious institutions (none of which were Catholic) and in our own consciences (even when the Church did not officially approve)” (sorry, you resort to the old and tired mantra that the problem with conscience is that it must be “properly” trained – any properly trained conscience can not disagree with authority – really, check out the above list)

        Then, both you and others conflate dogma, truths (there are different levels in the church including whether it needs one has to fully agree with it), and moral theology. Yes, we can affirm that there is “truth” but how it is lived and eexpressed changes with the times, context, and social mores. Your use of heteredox and orthodox reveals a very casual and first time exposure to dogmatic theology – as does your definitions of magisterium, teaching authority, etc. You attempt to make church authority the central part of our faith – it is not. In fact, dogma teaches that our faith is based upon scripture, tradition, and authority (VII defined authority in a much broader and more grounded way than your narrow concept).

        Allow me to correct the example of a pedophile priest. You state that a repentant heterodox priest could be returned to ministry; the church no longer returns pedophiles. Do you read the news – it would be nice to think that was the church’s practice but, in fact, we have seen for more than 100 years an institution that silenced and marginalized theologians, biblical scholars, and ecclesiologists (continues today – think Sr. Johnson; LCWR; etc.) and, in reality, covered up and not only returned but re-assigned “unrepentatant” and psychologically sick priests to ministry over and over again even when the evidence clearly indicated multiple abuse victims. Both of you state a conviction about pedophile priests and church practice that has no documented proof. And, again, your example conflates dogma/truths with a moral theology situation and sin – if you understood “sin” and moral theology, you can not reach the judgments that you are making. How do you know whether it is a “sin” or not; how do you know the internal thoughts of anyone? You equate a church truth as an infallible position and anyone who does not abide by this (or one who takes an oath) is a sinner? Really? (but, then, if the sinner just stops preaching heterodoxy all will be well).

        And your comments about four years of theology – really, a candidate may or may not be ordained with a Masters of Divinity – he has some exposure to theology but that is about it. More and more ordinands don’t even have a MDiv for ordination and few go on to get an MA in Theology, Scripture, etc.
        Thus, IMO they know enough to be “dangerous” but do not know enough to really do “theology”.

  16. Jordan, I want to ask how “rubrical precision” gives young people a “sense of identity.” Further, of what does this identity consist? I enjoy the “rubrical precision” of a drum and bugle corps or an ROTC drill team, but I don’t gain any identity from watching someone else follow an extraordinarly exact routine of movements and/or words.

    I would suggest that a Catholic identity that flows from rubrical precision is not a Catholic identity at all, but an idiosyncratic appreciation for orderliness. There is as much beauty in a wild field in the woods as in a finely manicured suburban lawn and garden.

    1. re: Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh on May 6, 2012 – 6:11 am

      Fr. Kavanaugh: I would suggest that a Catholic identity that flows from rubrical precision is not a Catholic identity at all, but an idiosyncratic appreciation for orderliness.

      Quite true. For many, orderliness is not confined only to liturgy but encompasses all of life. Others carry their tendency towards spontaneity into worship. Neither is “right”, and neither perspective should be privileged over the other.

      As an “orderly” person, I find the EF comforting because of the multiplied layers of performative meaning contained within the rubrics. Every blessing, every gesture, corresponds with a prayer and its underlying theological reality. The arrangement of the blessings of the Canon in groups of twos and threes is certainly not a coincidence given the theology and reality of the eucharistic prayer.

      “Rubrical precision”, then, is an appreciation that every gesture within the liturgy must correspond with underlying and overlaid meaning. The OF, while also saturated with rubrical meaning, often relies more on a celebrant’s spontaneity rather than a strictly delineated performance. A certain creative unpredictability is exciting for many. For others, deviations from the missal text and rubrics obscure the fact that Mass is the prayer of not only an assembly but also of the corporate Church throughout time.

      I would say that some young people are searching for the historic identity of the Church in the meaning and order of rubrics and not necessarily in the creative expression of clergy.

      1. Every blessing, every gesture, corresponds with a prayer and its underlying theological reality.

        This is really only true in a very broad sense. There are many gestures in the liturgy that don’t correspond with a specific prayer. E.g what prayer corresponds with the incensation of the choir at the offertory?

        To respond to the broader point Father made above:

        I would suggest that a Catholic identity that flows from rubrical precision is not a Catholic identity at all, but an idiosyncratic appreciation for orderliness.

        I would suggest that Catholic identity flowing from “rubrical precision” is largely not a thing at all… so talk about whether it flows from some pathological and/or psychological source (“idiosyncratic appreciation for orderliness”) is largely meaningless.

        To the extent that we can talk about “rubrical precision” at all, it has little to do with the military precision of the drill field (a point expicitly made by Fortescue.)

    2. GLORY be to God for dappled things—
      For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
      Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
      Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

      All things counter, original, spare, strange;
      Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
      He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
      Praise him.

      Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ, a creative clergyman

    3. What would the alternative to seeking “rubrical precision” be? If there is no desire to seek precision, than there is, by default, a promotion of the less-than-perfect.

      “Rubrical precision” is rare, but the pursuit of the best is something that I would hope we would embrace as a part of our identity.

      1. Jeffrey, “precision” is rarely called for in the serving of the liturgy (and I mean serving in the Eastern sense that encompasses both what we call “altar servers” and the major ministers.) To the extent that we talk about “precision” it’s largely a metaphor… and perhaps not that useful a metaphor. Beter to talk of “obedience to the rubrics,” “accordance with the rubrics,” etc.?

        Fortescue’s remark (quoting Martinucci) is thus:

        A remark by Martinucci about the behaviour of servers in church may be noted with advantage here: “They should avoid too much precision or affectation, or such a bearing as befits soldiers on parade rather than churchmen. They must certainly do all gravely and regularly; but if they behave with too punctilious a uniformity the sacred functions look theatrical.”

        And lest someone accuse contemporary EF servers of being often “theatrical” we have to be careful to remember that it’s not present day theatricallity (much influenced by naturalism in acting) that’s being referred to but the more highly artificial theatricality of the time.

  17. I’m 26, male, a graduate student, single, and one of those ex-Catholics so often bellyached about. I enjoy this blog, though I don’t get involved in the commenting due to the nasty atmosphere provided by a few on here. As a disclaimer, I will say my tastes run to the Anglo-Catholic/trad-Catholic, though I believe my observations are more or less impartial:

    First thing to keep in mind, when discussing my generation, is that we’d rather fornicate and abuse controlled substances than go to church. Sorry, but the bulk of my generation does not have an interest in religion. Period. Some Sundays, I know I’D even rather be out doing that myself. The point is, that you aren’t going to get ALL of us, or even most of them. That’s ok!

    From an early age, my favorite hymns were chant or “organ songs”. Though I didn’t know why, I hated to hear one priest say something different from another during the Mass. So every young person wants tradition, chant, and Latin, right?

    Wrong. So wrong. A good number of my Catholic friends my age love Glory & Praise music and hate the new translation. Most don’t go to Mass anyway, though. My protestant friends are split evenly between traditional and praise music. So, about our preferences, let me say: WE DON’T HAVE ANY! We’re oh-so diverse. We’ll go where we as individuals want.

    If you take nothing else away from my comment, take this: my generation can’t stand b___s__t. When someone is faking piety in a grand show of either lace or emotion, we get turned off. When someone is condescending to us, we know and we get turned off. What young, believing, people REALLY want is to be adult believers in an adult church. Not “adult” as one ideology or another defines it, but being treated as equals, and not a commodity, by our fellow worshipers.

      1. J. Thomas, I do find so much BS in popular religion, though I do NOT limit it to one end of the spectrum or the other. BS is, to me:

        – Traditionalists asserting how much better and holier We are than Them
        – Progressives asserting how much better and holier We are than Them
        – Leadership who talk about how “welcoming” their church is, when the congregation doesn’t care about you being there
        – Congregations who “welcome the young people” – but only so we can stay forever and make lots of babies!
        – Traditionalism because “nothing should ever change ever”
        – Stale 1970s progressivism because “nothing should ever change ever”

        I could go on. And on.

        Honestly, I’m not very proud of our generation overall. But one area where I do boast is that we have a talent for sniffing out BS, and we will run from it. That’s the biggest thing people who want to attract our demographic need to learn.

    1. If it’s not too intrusive to ask – why do you consider yourself to be an ex-catholic?

      One of the finest “ex-Catholics” I know is a very gentle, very caring widow who was noted for many years for her work organizing volunteer projects and interfaith connections. The community was shocked when a priest who had driven many other people finally chose to aim his ire at her. How could someone so inoffensive be the target of such an attack? She now is a very fine Methodist, continuing in her work organizing volunteers and building interfaith connections.

      1. Brigid, you may ask, though I apologize for my late response – I was out of town for a few days.

        I consider myself to be an “ex-Catholic” because I do not currently attend Mass regularly nor avail myself of the Sacraments from Catholic churches. I’m actually a church musician, but when I’m not working I typically attend more traditional Episcopal churches. I guess that technically just puts me in the category of “bad Catholic”, but “ex” sounds a little better 😉

        If you’re in fact asking what compelled me to make that decision, that’s a little more involved, but I’ll try to give you a good answer. To make it short, it was to flee bad music, sloppy liturgy, and heterodoxy. To go a little more in-depth, my first real point of contention was over the concept of “Holy Days of Obligation” – the idea that one can go to Hell just because the bishops decided you HAVE to go to church on a day! As for points of doctrine, once I rejected the principle of authority of the bishops, so many other things fell with it: Eucharist, Mariology, Justification, etc. My current beliefs are more in line with what some might consider Evangelical Protestantism – though I’d like to think without the closed mind so many have!

        So I don’t know if you could place me as a liberal or conservative “ex”. Ultimately, I just took a good, hard look at the faith and decided “I don’t really believe this,” and have been on a quest since to find out what I really believe – I think a trait many in my generation share. And again, the laxity of Catholic practice in modern America just made me ask: if you don’t believe any of it, why should I? Hopefully that answered your question, albeit late!

      2. Re: Holy Days of Obligation – my first exposure to their hypocrisy was when I discovered that in some, or even areas of some countries, the Holy Days are observed on Sundays – which are in themselves Holy Days of Obligation.

        For example, I was in England in the month of June, and was told that there was an upcoming Holy Day of Obligation. In my entire life, there was never any Holy Day of Obligation in June, but I was told that it was the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul. I asked if it was new, and people told me, “no”.

        So, when I went home, I asked my parish priest and he told me that we always celebrate that feast on a Sunday.

        It seems ridiculous that people who didn’t go to mass on that day in certain countries would be welcomed into Heaven, but those people in England who didn’t go to church on the same day would be denied the sight of God for all eternity.

        It’s either a sin, or it isn’t. There’s no making it a sin because the bishop wants it to be one. And for those who claim that Jesus told the apostles that what sins they held bound would be bound, I claim Jesus did not say that. Those words were written into the bible by men who wanted to be able to control other people by fear.

      3. Holy Days of Obligation, like saints’ days, should be the product oif popular devotion. They are days that appeal to a particular community that bring the people together and help form them in Christ.

        Easter is the primary one, but it is so written into our practice that it might be more obvious if we look at Christmas. This is an HDO in every community, as people come together to celebrate the Incarnation and all it entails — infants, mothers, family, hope and light. It is an obligation, but it is not “burdensome” for those who see those things in the light of Christ.

        Every community has its own models. Our Lady of Guadaloupe is an HDO in Mexico, where her image helped shaped the nation. But in the US the bishops chose the Immaculate Conception, which was popular in its day nut had no role in history. Our Lady of the Rosary (?) was originally instituted to commemorate the naval victory at Lepanto, but is it still the national holiday it must have been in Spain? Corpus Christi was a popular Catholic rallying point esp. in countries dominated by Reformation, like Scotland or Germany. These historic roles are commemorated by the people to whom they were important, not by every nation.

        The exception to the particular, besides the feasts of Jesus that appeal to every particular Christian community, is the Church of Rome, whose feasts have a universal appeal because of Rome’s universal role. The feasts od Ss Peter and Paul, the founders of the Church of Rome, might be remembered in Britain because of the role Rome played in sending missionaries to England. The founding of Rome is important everywhere, unlike the importance attached to St Patrick in Ireland, St Boniface in Germany, Ss Cyril and Methodius in Eastern Europe.

        Holy Days play a role in sharing commonalities. Those who abseent themselves miiss something, something that may dispose them to drift ever farther from their community.

      4. “Holy Days play a role in sharing commonalities. Those who abseent themselves miiss something, something that may dispose them to drift ever farther from their community.”

        An adult should be capable of determining whether missing a Holy Day of Obligation that is unique to their geographic/cultural area is going to cause them to drift or not. They don’t need a bishop to tell them that it is mandatory for them to attend a mid-week mass or they’ll drift from their community.

        The bishop can recommend it, encourage it, endorse it. But to declare that if you don’t attend a mass on a day that he considers to be an HDO then you end up in Hell is abuse of power.

  18. So many different comments on different aspects of this question. How many of you are actually parents and have had to deal with teenagers? How many of you teach youth or have been formation directors?

    Let’s see three aspects:
    – Tucker….sorry, know quite a few current seminarians and yes, most are not interested in current liturgical or past fights. That being said, most that I know do not match your description at all. Complex situation – different dioceses/bishops/seminaries attract different types of candidates. Roman US seminaries shouldn’t be used as the “standard”. Most candidates I know reject the RORM despite Goodwright’s comment
    – Churchman – excellent comment. Most young people I know find the church leadership to be hypocritical esp. gay, women, ethnic issues. Until that is addressed, more and more youth will remain “apathetic”
    – Fr. K’s approach if transplanted to the US…..again, same pattern. It would appeal to a small minority but most youth I know would be amused by his statements.

    Young people are looking for a community that makes a difference; calls upon them to contribute their skills to building up a new future. RORM focuses on the dead past. Might appeal to some for a brief period – let’s see if it lasts.

  19. I am no insider on church issues, just an active/struggling parishioner. But how does this sound as a sketch of the last 60 or so years?

    1. For a variety of reasons, “progressive” forces arise in the church, advocating for changes. These forces dominate at V2, and expectations rise among progressives that further changes will come.

    2. The Vatican draws a line-in-the-sand over contraception.

    3. Parish life continues with a don’t-ask/don’t-tell agreement on contraception between clergy and parishioners. Vocations decline for a variety of reasons. (Too much disruption of Catholic identity? Discomfort with the teaching on contraception?)

    4. JP2 draws a line-in-the-sand over ordination of women. Bishops are chosen on the basis of loyalty and conservative credentials. Conservatives are attracted to the priesthood. Progressives in the pews squirm.

    5. B16 draws a line-in-the-sand over toleration of gays and promulgates liturgical changes favored by conservatives. Progressives don’t even consider church vocations and their voice is lost in seminaries. Young and conservative priests come to prominence in parishes and preach the Vatican line aggressively on the most contested issues. They attract a loyal following of “true believers” and recruit like-minded individuals for vocations. Young people with progressive leanings leave the RCC and don’t even look back. The middle-aged and older weigh their love for God and need for the sacraments against their dismay at what they see happening to their parish life.

    6. The next Pope decides to… ? Then at seminaries…? At parishes…?

  20. One thing that is a bit silly about the video was the caricature of the sixties and the idea that our real problem is too much freedom and not enough discipline. The scenes you see there have nothing to do with rejecting rubrics of liturgy but rather a wholly praiseworthy resistance to being drafted as fodder in a horrible war. I don’t like this notion that good liturgy goes with a hierarchical, and authoritarian social structure. I don’t believe that.

  21. I’m 31 years old and I converted to the faith at 24. The first Catholic Mass I ever attended nearly made me walk out the door and never give Catholicism a second thought. It had taken me about two years worth of studying the faith on my own before I worked up the courage to approach my local parish and ask about converting. I had some inkling that Vatican II had changed a few things in the Church, and that it was still a source of controversy. Boy, I had no idea!

    I knew something was odd when the pastor opened Mass with “Good morning! Let’s all take a second to introduce ourselves.” So we all turned to one another, shook hands, smiled, how-do-you-do, how-are-the-kids, etc. The choir was armed with guitars, saxophones, drums, and electric keyboards. I didn’t know what receiving Communion was supposed to be like, but there was something vaguely disappointing about how everyone received Him in their hands and popped Him into their mouth like Goldfish crackers.

    In practice, I was no different than my fellow parishioners and much worse than some heroic others. I wanted to be a good Catholic, but the whole thing just struck me as being flat, banal, this-worldly, boring. I was about to drift away from the Church all together when I discovered that the FSSP has a parish in my diocese. I now drive seventy miles round trip every Sunday for High Mass.

    I realize I’m not the typical young person in many ways. But, to borrow a line from politics, I think young people want a choice, not an echo. If the Church isn’t challenging us to repent and change our lives, then why bother with it? If the priest is not about showing us the way to Heaven, then what is he but a social worker who can’t date? To be sure, some, perhaps many, young people would walk away from a Church that doubled down on the teachings most obnoxious to the modern mind, i.e. on gays, contraception, etc. People walked away from Jesus Christ Himself 2000 years ago. Is the servant greater than the…

    1. I am glad if you receive comfort from the High Mass. I am disturbed, though, if it brings you to a place where you look down on us other sinners. I am more disturbed at the notion that the simple, daily kindnesses of human greeting are flat, banal, worldly and boring. Remember, “God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. ” What if the Heaven you seek turns out to be very like the banal , boring world you scorn today?

    2. Kevin, I am glad that you did not walk away from the church and that you have found a place to pray to God and nourish your faith. But you must accord the same courtesy to me who finds a place to pray in the midst of the community of believers who are nourished in the 4 manifestations of Christ’s presence (the gathered community, the persona Christi of the priest, the Word of God and the sharing of the Eucharist) of the post VII vernacular liturgy. My prayer is also enabled by the many (I said MANY , not all!) fine contemporary compositions of contributors to this blog! I do not want this taken away from me nor do I wish to see it belittled by those who find nourishment elsewhere.

      1. But you must accord the same courtesy to me who finds a place to pray in the midst of the community of believers who are nourished in the 4 manifestations of Christ’s presence (the gathered community, the persona Christi of the priest, the Word of God and the sharing of the Eucharist) of the post VII vernacular liturgy.

        All these are present at his FSSP community’s Mass, unless Vatican II really has completely broken with the faith of the past (it hasn’t).

    3. People walked away from Jesus Christ Himself 2000 years ago.

      This seems like a very odd way to end a post about how you walked away from your local parish. I am glad you found a place that matched your expectations, but I have to wonder if you aren’t avoiding the call to repentence and conversion at your local parish.

      “the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes.” (Dei Verbum 8.) The Church is not only in what is written, sola sriptura, but also in the life and worship of Christians. If God has led you to a particular place, whether it is the FSSP or your local parish, I hope you have the courage to live there.

      1. You touched on a sore point. Believe me, it was no easy decision to no longer attend my territorial parish. Under normal circumstances, I would agree that we should be loyal to our local communities. This made sense in the days when 1) people weren’t as mobile, and 2) the differences between parishes were more akin to the differences between McDonalds’ restaurants: same hamburgers, different pictures on the walls. Now different parishes are serving very different hamburgers indeed.

        I’m certain that every Catholic who is involved in the life of their diocese can identity the “Spirit of Vatican II” parish, the “Reform of the Reform” parish, the Trad parish, the gay-friendly parish, the Mexican parish, the Vietnamese parish, the social justice parish, the pro-life parish, etc. Sacramentally and juridically, they’re all part of the universal Church. Spiritually, theologically, and culturally they can be extremely different. It shouldn’t surprise Church leaders that young people, or any Catholic for that matter, will seek out the one that appeals to them the most.

        Ultimately, this seems like something only the hierarchy can change. They could embrace diversity, so to speak, or work toward getting each parish to start serving the same hamburgers again.

  22. Mike Burns said: “As a demograhpic those ages 18-35 are the largest group missing from the Church. They don’t care about EF ,OF, or rubrical precision. It seems that they have not been able to come to grips with a Church that says one thing and does another. The ongoing sex abuse scandal, which we seem to gloss over, is one area where they see glaring hypocrisy.”

    This is so true. My younger son, who is quite disposed to faith and treats it very seriously, has a good number of friends who were recently confirmed. He talks to me quite frequently about their attitudes toward the Church and their relief that they “are now done with it all” now that they are confirmed. He showed me his Facebook on the eve of Ash Wednesday, as there was an ongoing discussion (among some of these kids) about Lent and its customs and obligations. It was very disconcerting to read. One post that still sticks in my mind was: “No child molester is touching me” (in reference to the imposition of ashes). I think that this is what the kids are thinking about and judging the Church on, not on EF/OF, and a push of one over the other wouldn’t matter one bit to your average white suburban 14-18 year old. And I fear that these will soon join the demographic of 18-35 group that are gone.

  23. Jeffrey wrote: I don’t like this notion that good liturgy goes with a hierarchical, and authoritarian social structure. I don’t believe that.

    Whether or not we agree on the answer, I think the question you have posed is a profoundly important one. It probably deserves a separate discussion.

    A lot, of course, depends on what you mean by ‘good liturgy’. Let us suppose that whatever form of liturgy is chosen, it is celebrated with reverence, attention to the rubrics and beautiful music. Given that, if the Tridentine Mass is ‘better’ on your scale of ‘good’ than the Mass of Paul VI, then it’s hard for me to escape the conclusion that the older liturgy complements (‘goes with’) a social system that is more structured and hierarchical. The newer Mass is structurally more egalitarian, more flexible and less bound to the authority of manuals and central liturgy offices. In that sense it ‘goes with’ a less hierarchical and less authoritarian society.

    On the other hand, if by ‘good liturgy’ you mean a high quality of celebration, regardless of the rite, then of course I agree that there is little connection with social structure.

    1. Mr. Day,
      As a colleague of Mr. Tucker I believe your definition of what constitutes “good liturgy” aligns quite well with Jefffrey’s, tho’ I’m not speaking for him.
      Preference of form being equivilent with insistence upon one form has never in my experience been his metier. Like nearly all CMAA adherents, there is a tacet agreement upon what the group president, Prof. Mahrt, has coined the “paradigm.” And yes, internecine conflicts have periodically surfaced when individuals try to flesh that out. But I know that Jeff Tucker avoids such controversies like the plague, and appeals to reasoned and charitable consensus. Under the current legislation, how could one do otherwise?

    2. Does the Tridentine Mass truly “go with” a more structured/hierarchical social system, or does it seem that way because that is the way society was when it was in wide usage? I’ve found that a lot of people strongly associate the Latin Mass with the culture of the immediate post WWII period since it wasn’t really allowed to be used after the cultural revolution of the 60s. This leads some to think a return to the Latin Mass will bring back the culture of the 1950s (with that being either a very good or very bad thing depending on your point of view).

      And while the newer Mass is “less bound to the authority of manuals and central liturgy offices,” it is more bound to the particular likes and dislikes of the priest using it (and his bishop) than the old Mass was, and the looseness of the rubrics supports this.

      1. Jack, I think it does — and I will try to expand on this in a future post.

        In particular the Tridentine rite emphasises hierarchy within the worshipping community much more than the newer Mass does. Fortescue has seven pages devoted solely to “ecclesiastical rank” (pp. 35-41 in my edition), explaining, among other things, the difference between greater prelates, common prelates and lesser prelates, as well as the liturgical privileges owed to protonotaries apostolic, etc etc. The rest of the book has extensive commentary on rank and hierarchy.

        It is no accident that when Card. Castrillon Hoyos came to London to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, the local traditionalist society (Latin Mass Society) said:

        As befits a Prince of the Church, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos will be welcomed at the Cathedral west door in full cappa magna before processing to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to pray; he will then vest in the sanctuary whilst the Cathedral choir sings. Pontifical High Mass will then be celebrated at the High Altar with all the breathtaking ceremony and music integral to the Traditional Rite.

        If this isn’t an appeal to hierarchy, I don’t know what is. Not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing, just that the two go together.

      2. Jonathan, I’m convinced that the “noble simplicity” that SC sought was not for the typical Tridentine low or high Mass, even Solemn High Mass in a typical parish, but for the Pontifical High Mass you describe.

      3. Jonathan – please provide some expansion. Given Fr. Allan’s comment (he states: “…….for the Pontifical High Mass you describe – “Pontifical High Mass will then be celebrated at the High Altar with all the breathtaking ceremony and music integral to the Traditional Rite”) would love to see some documentation that justifies these opinions. Looks and feels more like a “guess” based upon emotional revisionist history; lack of understanding of what SC, Bugnini, and others tried to accomplish. (Sorry – the mass you describe in London strikes me as a “scandal” for the church – an embarrassing knee jerk exercise that “Plays” at liturgy and resurrects pre-VII rubrics as gimmicks.)

        Sure that Bugnini, SC had no intention of continuing the low, high, pontifical, etc. designations of the eucharist. Would agree that SC and developments did structure liturgical principles such that folks had to make choices in terms of liturgy (sorry, believe this was a good goal – if it failed, it was because training, etc. never developed to the point of making this happen; on-going education did not happen; etc. Am pretty sure that the pre-VII rubrics were intended to be revised and changed for good reasons)

        Guess you can do a “mind experiment” and compare the two liturgies in terms of which one relied upon a rubrical hierarchy but, again, to what purpose? Would suggest that VII did intend a hierarchy but the hierarchy has to do with more essential goals – increased scripture and homilies (not sermons); emphasis community/meal; broaden participation; move away from single focus on priest; etc.

        To me, rubrics is a tool; not a goal and hierarchy (if I understand your point) is not a VII liturgical goal.

      4. Bill, I don’t know how Fr Allan concludes that the noble simplicity of SC was “for the pontifical high Mass”; in fact I’m not sure exactly what Fr Allan means by this statement. Father, is your claim that the Council fathers would have been content with eliminating the pontifical high Mass, leaving the rest of the Tridentine Mass untouched? I don’t believe that for a second.

        My point was very limited: all forms of the Tridentine Mass — low, high, solemn high, pontifical, at the faldstool or at the throne — reflect a certain view of social order, one in which (among other things) priests are not just different to laypeople, but superior; one in which there is a hierarchy not just of responsibilities but an ‘ontological’ hierarchy. And hence the laity are to be kept out of the sanctuary (women especially), clerical hands are to be kissed as liturgical objects are handed back and forth, etc.

        The Tridentine Mass is not the only place such a view turns up. You can see a similar model at Buckingham Palace.

        With the Mass there is an inherent contradiction worth pondering. As Ann Riggs points out below, many of today’s 20-somethings — including the Catholics — are ambivalent about deference and authority. They don’t see why they shouldn’t tweet during a university lecture, or denounce a bishop (whether a greater OR a lesser prelate) on a blog.

        It also seems to me that a Church characterised by clerical hierarchy and precedence is unlikely to deal with the abuse scandals very well. This seems to have been the case with Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, the ‘prince of the Church’ who wore that cappa magna in London. See this story in Catholic Culture, hardly a “liberal” source. Excerpt:

        In an April 22 radio interview, Cardinal Castrillon said that he did not regret writing in 2001 to congratulate a French bishop for not informing police about an abusive priest. He said that for a bishop to inform on a priest would be like a father testifying in court against a child. “Why would they ask that of the Church?” he said.

      5. Jonathan, I’ve never been to a Pontifical High Mass, but I’ve seen videos and EF papal Masses are even more complex. Parish EF Masses are certainly of noble simplicity compared to those. I contend you could have an EF order of mass with the 2011 missal, in Latin or English with the OF lectionary and order of the liturgy of the word, add the universal prayers, lay lectors and procession of offerings and one would be as faithful to SC and perhaps moreso than the current OF Mass. You would have to make more explicit to me how the doctrine of what the essential sacramental and sacrificial functions of the priest are different in the OF and EF Masses.

      6. I think it could be said that the old Mass emphasizes hierarchy for the clerics at the altar. However, I don’t follow in how it over-emphasizes it for the whole worshipping community when the role of those in the pews is typically little different between the EF and OF beyond being allowed to touch the Host or drink from the chalice.

        The OF allows laypeople to be readers and to disribute communion, but I recall someone posting a study here done in the 80s that showed that this didn’t really make the rest of the congregation feel more involved in what was going on (it never made me feel more involved). So around here the OF involves about four more laypeople at the altar per Mass than the EF does. The EF involves laypeople in the choir, though, and the choir has a more unique/important function in the EF than it typically does in the OF.

      7. I guess it all depends on what “freaks” you out. I personally think it was wise to ease up on some of the “monarchical” signs of reverence that was accorded to bishops in the liturgy and in everyday life in the reform of the Liturgy. Yet when I see these things returning because the EF Mass is allowed once again, I see it as a function of rubrics, not a function of the person to whom the acts of “monarchical reverence” are shown. (BTW, when I celebrate the EF High Mass or Solemn High Mass, I do not encourage the servers or deacons to kiss any part of me and they don’t! But I’m a flaming liberal when it comes to these things 🙂 )
        But there certainly is a hierarchical order in the OF Mass. When a deacon is present, he should read the Gospel. Lay people should read the Scriptures even when there are multiple priests and deacons. When there are sufficient deacons and priests, laity are not to be Communion Ministers. The congregation does not recite with the priest the prayers of the priest (at least out loud).

  24. Liking mass in Latin may or may not be related to devotion; it may be related to the ongoing quest for the impressive and the striking — religious experience as consumer good.
    My college students fit some of the other material written about the current cohort of young adults: they are constantly “plugged in” and don’t see why we object to their texting or multi-tasking during class; a sense of entitlement; a strong sense of tolerance for other people that is paradoxically coupled to a tendency to render judgments on things they don’t like in very strong language; a sense that being a ‘good Christian” is the same as being a “good person” and that they don’t have to go to church to do that (or to show God that they love him); that actions count more than words (they LOVE the story of “the sheep and the goats” in Matthew 25). Oddly enough, when asked what they truly believe, they often express ideals very similar to that of Catholic social justice teaching — but they think it is all just “common sense.”

    1. “Common sense” or natural law?

      Or in other words , are they

      “our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all,
      shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us, written not in ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.

      1. “Common sense” in the sense that they seriously underestimate the social, historical, cultural element of any religion — akin to the “spiritual but not religious” disclaimer that one hears; a kind of naive presumption that embodied elements of religion aren’t important.

  25. It also seems to me that a Church characterised by clerical hierarchy and precedence is unlikely to deal with the abuse scandals very well.

    It seems to me that a Church (or any other structure) characterized by authority that answers to no human is the very place where abuse happens!

  26. The Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity are a predecessor to diaconal ordination already, so the men either hold to it or are lying in their promise.

    Who is the Oath of Fidelity to, God, or the men in charge? Such oaths are a grand method to weed out anyone who is likely to question the existing human made methods of governing the Church!

    1. The Profession of Faith (that I summarized above) is simply made in the presence of the Ordinary or his delegate. The Oath of Fidelity is an oath to God, and is taken with a hand on the book of the Gospels – however part of it is a clear promise to “unite [one]self with what is declared by the bishops as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith”. Both documents can be found here.

      I suppose one with a skeptical eye could see that as a “weed out method”. That said, I can’t understand how anyone would be surprised that the Catholic Church expects its bishops, priests, deacons, and all those lay people who exercise teaching ministries in the Church to actually teach the Catholic Faith.

      This doesn’t close off the ability to question doctrine or methods – it only relegates them to their proper context – that of the discussion of theologians in dialogue with the Holy See. However, and the end of the day, the masses are not the authentic teachers of the Faith, nor are the theologians — ultimately, the teaching authority rests in the Pope and the College of Bishops.

      1. (1) I first heard this oath when our current pastor was installed. I was appalled. It would keep me from ever considering the diaconate!

        (2) It institutionalizes the gulf between the views of laity and (young) clergy.

        (3) It ensures that the individuals capable for helping the church out of its current morass will be the theologians, not the priests. (We’ll see whether the priests and bishops are willing to engage the theologians.)

        (4) For all his writing about “Be not afraid,” JP2 needed to heed his own advice better. This oath reeks of a fear of discussion, and I’m tempted even to say, fear of the Holy Spirit. The readings during Easter season are so interesting, as we hear how the early Christians had to work through interesting “issues.” I despair that current leadership doesn’t want to work through issues—they only want to maintain an aura of invincability and unchangability. Mr. Goodwright, I appreciate the serious nature of your comments and your measured tone. However, I don’t think it’s realistic to to consign discussion/questioning of doctrine to theologians. Priests are going to be on the front lines, interacting with parishioners who have doubts/questions/struggles with these very issues. They need to be free to listen, discuss, and respond, not just give the “rules.” Without an ability to engage, their credibility is lost.

        One also needs to appreciate the diversity of opinion, e.g., on contraception, that has existed among those “authentic teachers,” the bishops.

        I’m not talking about things on the level of the Nicene Creed here! But we do need to acknowledge that there are issues that are a lot less settled than church leadership wants to admit, and I don’t think it’s helpful—either in convincing the laity to accept current teaching on these issues, or in having leadership reexamine the current teachings—to reduce priests and deacons to “enforcers.” We need their full intellectual, moral, and spiritual capacities of all to be unleashed.

        God bless, Ralph Bremigan

      2. Ralph, thank you for your kind words; please let me treat these a bit out of order.

        (4) In order to understand the seemingly constraining nature of the oath, we have to keep the teaching role of the bishop/priest/deacon in its proper context. In those offices, the goal is to teach the faith in fidelity to the Church’s own teaching. A bishop does not teach infallibly except in union with the College of Bishops in union with the Pope. A priest or deacon is not representing himself, but his bishop and the Church. This is no small thing — (1) four years ago, I would not have been comfortable taking the oath, because I was too skeptical of Conciliar and post-Conciliar teachings.

        Remember that parish priests have at least 4 years of theology as part of their formation – they are theologians in the sense that they “do theology” when they answer questions and preach/teach. It’s not that they can’t listen, engage, respond, even speculate – but when they do these things, they are bounded in by the Faith as it’s formualted. Even with this, there is plenty of latitude, but the priest can’t teach something contrary to the Faith, nor can they insist on a stricter interpretation of the Faith than the Church does.

        (2) The task of the clergy remains the same even if that gulf exists… it just makes his job more difficult.

        (3) The theologian (and this includes priest-theologians) have a different role: to pose questions and to illuminate details of the Faith. The document Donum Veritatis gives details on the theologian’s vocation. There is plenty of room for discussion and even disagreement, but when dissent becomes public it forces the Vatican’s hand because it becomes “political”. Look at the CDF/SSPX discussions as an example (though an imperfect one) – since both sides have been keeping the discussions private, neither side feels pressured from outside, and genuine discussion can take place.

  27. We shouldn’t forget – the Nicene Creed was not handed down from on high, but was developed after lengthy and sometimes rather vigorous discussion. (Seem to me that Nicholas of Myra punched someone in the nose!)

  28. I would say that the vast majority of Fr. Kramer’s assertions line up with this 18-year-old’s views, yes.

  29. I’m a 27 year old straight male and a lapsed Catholic. I was devout and had strong traditionalist sympathies until a few years ago. Whenever I get the urge to come back to the church, i’m repeatedly driven away by the rhetoric that I find among traditional and conservative Catholics(such as EWTN). There is an obsession with characterizing ‘the other’ i.e. anyone who disagrees with them, as either ignorant, immoral or both, and of the government getting ready to throw the Catholic Church into the catacombs. I think that this sectarian and histrinoic attitude is disturbing and I think it drives many people(especially young people). Declaring a priori that two men can’t experience romantic love for one another, or that two men raising a child is a form of violence(as the Vatican has declared) sounds silly to people who know such couples and such families for example.

    1. Stanislaus,
      you state you are repeatedly driven away by the rhetoric from traditional/conservative sites as Ewtn etc.
      I’m glad that you recognized that. Vote w/ your feet!
      But we’re a very big Church (big “C”) and many of these people you mention think they are influential and are in the majority. Actually, they represent a tiny albeit vocal minority.
      I think you are confusing ‘traditionalist sympathies” with wanting good liturgy.
      May I suggest you seek out a Catholic church that has good liturgy and music, that is welcoming and non judgmental with a pastor that speaks Christ to your heart. Your conscience will tell you if it is right…. you just need to look around.

      Lk 24:32 And they said one to the other: Was not our heart burning within us, whilst he spoke in this way, and opened to us the scriptures? (Douay-Rheims Bible)

      1. Dale,
        Thank you for your response. These groups may be a small minority but they seem to be gaining control of the public discourse of the church, and even worse, they seem to be dominating the hierarchy, at least in this country. I think that there is a general atmosphere of fear and anger devoid of empathy for human beings that these people foster that just naturally drives most young people away, even more than any actual positions that they take. There are bright spots here and there though. Cardinal Schonborn is one of them, I hope he becomes pope. Even so, I fear that it’s too late for me, I’ve gotten too comfortable in life outside of the church, I still pray, but going to Mass and confession, and participating in parish life has become rather foreign.

      2. Hang in there Stanislaus! I am hanging on by my fingernails but it’s OUR Church too. The Hound of Heaven will not let you go! Unfortunately it “appears” that they are inflluential but looking at the facts and hard numbers they are not. I have NEVER heard so much grumbling about this papacy by none other than the clergy. Like any organization you have to be on board but wait when there is a change in the CEO, look out!

    2. The coming years are going to be very hard. I’m a young man in nearly the opposite condition; I do not have many demands for liturgy as long as it’s not too cheesy, but have no interest in staying Catholic if we become another particular church of the church of modernity; but I think you overestimate the power of our side and underestimate the power of
      your side. And let us be honest, there are sides, and it will not be
      possible for both of us to be accommodated in the end. No one should
      feel triumphant in these times. Troubled days.

      1. My complaints are not so much about the content of the church’s teaching necessarily but rather about the manner in which many Catholics relate to those who believe and live differently, in terms of rhetoric, attitudes, and behavior. For example, even if you accept the teaching of the church on homosexuality, you still have to find some way to account for the fact that there are people who experience love in such relationships, as well as orphaned children who have found a loving home with such couples. If you do not, then you’re not going to be convincing to most people.

  30. Re

    Clarence Goodwright :

    Remember that parish priests have at least 4 years of theology as part of their formation – they are theologians in the sense that they “do theology” when they answer questions and preach/teach. It’s not that they can’t listen, engage, respond, even speculate – but when they do these things, they are bounded in by the Faith as it’s formualted. Even with this, there is plenty of latitude, but the priest can’t teach something contrary to the Faith, nor can they insist on a stricter interpretation of the Faith than the Church does.

    Do remember the priests spend 4-5 years in seminary training, only PART of which is in theology (strictly understood). Believe it or not, theology is often not their gift — or their interest.
    I spent 5 years in masters and doctoral courses, plus independent work in doctoral exams and a dissertation. I am a theologian. Priests are not.

  31. In #86 Clarence Goodwright states
    “Remember that parish priests have at least 4 years of theology as part of their formation –”

    Priests have 4-5 years of seminary training, only part of which is the study of theology.
    I spent 5 years in masters and doctoral level coursework, plus additional time in independent work for doctoral exams and a dissertation. I am a theologian. Priests are not.

    1. Priests have 4-5 years of seminary training, only part of which is the study of theology.

      Ann, that’s not correct, based on the current formation norms. They require 2 years of philosophy and 4 years of theology.

    2. re: Ann Riggs on May 7, 2012 – 5:18 pm

      Ann, I sympathize with your frustration. Although lay preaching was certainly practiced in certain early Christian communities and is still practiced in Anglicanism, regrettably Rome does not permit lay preaching at this time. Certainly, you and many of your theologian colleagues would be a benefit to Roman worship.

      Even so, a priest is called foremost to be a cure of souls and an orthodox servant of the sacraments. It would be wonderful if most parish priests were theologians and latinists. This is not practical especially when there is a shortage of clergy in our tradition. I have often thought that seminarians should have at least two years of New Testament Greek and be able to sight-read the Latin propers of the EF and OF Masses. This is unrealistic, as many well-meaning and pastorally sensitive priests will be turned away from ordination under such a proposal.

      I do think that all seminarians should be required to earn a M.Div., as is often required of their Protestant ministry student counterparts in North America. This would, I hope, provide a baseline of theological education even if the path to ordination is lengthened somewhat.

  32. Ann – also sympathize. That may be a “standard” requirement (you would expect that at Paul Ford’s St. John’s Seminary) but, depending upon bishop, diocese, and seminary, those requirements change by candidate’s life experience, academic background (good or lack of), age, etc.

    (Note, Samuel, that the ATS 3 yr is totally in theology and the discipline you focus on – sacramental, dogmatic, history, etc. 4 yr. seminary really includes one year or one semester of working internship; language classes at times; canon law; liturgy practicum; human development, etc. ATS also would require some type of oral exam or written thesis. Too often, bishops don’t require that and so they ordain with no MDiv. One can hypothesize on whether the priest shortage has had a negative impact on theological preparation for the priesthood?)

    For example, Redemptoris Maris focuses on recruitment of men from a low economic and ethnic groups – often, they may only have 1 or 2 years of philosophy. Thus, some of theology is spent reinforcing what they did not receive earlier – thus, theology is even more watered down.

    Very few seminaries teach theology for four years – one of those years or semesters may be an internship; theology classes may be reduced for language classes; etc. If you compared the classic academic load from 1975 to today, you would find quite a reduction in total theology classes.

    With Bishop Robinson and Jordan – every candidate should be required to achieve a MDiv, at minimum. In addition, the USCCB needs to reduce the number of seminaries in the US; tighen up theology and ordination requirements – would suggest at least a five year program with a mandatory diaconate internship; and increase the skills and depth of the professors at the seminaries. Finally, the USCCB should complete the work on a type of professional credential required of every candidate before ordination (standard oral boards and written boards); then, the professional standards should require on-going education and re-certification every five years.

    If possible, would try to have regional seminaries in the US that are tied into some of the best catholic theology universities that require classes at both. This would direct us away from some of the “inbredness” of some seminary training and elevate the nature of ordination from an academic aspect.

    1. Bill, do you actually have any citations for these facts:

      “Very few seminaries teach theology for four years – one of those years or semesters may be an internship; theology classes may be reduced for language classes; etc. If you compared the classic academic load from 1975 to today, you would find quite a reduction in total theology classes.”

      For theology:
      St. Mary’s Baltimore has a 4 year program
      St. Joseph’s Dunwoodie (NY) has a 4 year program
      St. John’s (Boston) has a 4 year program
      Theological College (CUA) has a 4 year program
      The NAC has a 4 year program
      Kenrick-Glennon has a four year program
      The Josephinum has a four year program
      St. Paul (Minneapolis) has a four year program
      And those are just a few I could think of and check off the top of my head.

      It’s clearly false that “Very few seminaries teach theology for four years.”

      Bill, your edit to your comment only digs the hole deeper.

      (Note, Samuel, that the ATS 3 yr is totally in theology and the discipline you focus on – sacramental, dogmatic, history, etc. 4 yr. seminary really includes one year or one semester of working internship; language classes at times; canon law; liturgy practicum; human development, etc.

      This is completely false as can be seen by actually reading the Association of Theological Schools accreditation standard for an M.Div.

      Far from being completed focused on theology and not including the things you find a distraction from theological formation, an accredited M.Div. program must “provide opportunities for education through supervised experiences in ministry” (A.2.5.3) That liturgy practicum… the accredited M.Div must “provide for courses in the areas of ministry practice” (A.2.5.1).

      Language study? The Harvard Divinity School M.Div. program requires three semesters of language study as “an integral part of education in theological and religious studies at HDS.” Duke University Divinity School does not require language study, but includes for credit language study in its recommended program for M.Div. students, replacing other elective courses and certain M.Div. concentrations require language study. (Duke also, by the way, requires field placements as part of the M.Div. and allows using Clinical Pastoral Education as a for credit course to replace other electives.)

      The facts ahout MDiv and Catholic theology programs just not what you apparently think they are.

    2. re: Bill deHaas on May 7, 2012 – 7:07 pm

      Bill: Finally, the USCCB should complete the work on a type of professional credential required of every candidate before ordination (standard oral boards and written boards); then, the professional standards should require on-going education and re-certification every five years.

      Bill, while I am sympathetic to your goals, I do not know if comprehensive exams or a thesis are possible for all seminarians. From personal experience I can say that preparation for comprehensives is often grueling and time-intensive. Preparation for a successful comp pass might take at least a year for many seminarians. Combine this with possible language examinations and even a paper or thesis, and perhaps a good number of men might not consider a vocation to the priesthood.

      A non-thesis M.Div. requirement, given a thorough and broad-based curriculum, should be enough for most seminarians. Seminarians who show academic talent might be selected to pursue further academic degrees. Academic degrees are not strictly necessary for a man to become a good pastor and capable preacher. All that is required is an ability to teach the orthodox faith.

      1. Jordan – your last point is the most concerning: “….All that is required is an ability to teach the orthodox faith.”

        Actually, I would put that way down on my list of skills needed to be a pastor.

        (and my opinions are the same for any profession or university)

        What is required above all is the ability of the ordinand to study, discern, listen, articulate (both oral and written), make arguments, and be able to live and preach the gospel. (you would need to clarify your last sentence but anyone can be taught to regurgitate or mimic what is in some “orthodox catechism” – unfortunately, we have seen the results of folks who have no ability to listen, experience, or discern a faith journey – rather, they only know how to endlessly repeat “stock” laws, judgments, etc. This makes the church a “denomination” and not a community that together is on a journey of faith.)

        A pastor in many ways is like the ringleader of a big tent circus – needs to be able to “lead” (not just manage); inspire, create, evaluate, listen, discern, and walk with his community. This takes energy, effort, and you sweat blood in the process. It means being able to listen to scripture and your community and walk with them – challenging at times; supportive; forgiving; complimenting, etc. (not unlike the skills of an expert teacher – they don’t just mouth the pre-set curiculum).

        Agree that academic degrees are not “strictly” necessary but, in fact, in today’s world, seminarians need more education and practicums before ordination even if that means a longer prep period. Example – the typical four year course of study would include one semester/one course on homiletics – is that really sufficient? (especially given studies referenced by Jack and others?)

      2. Jordan – your last point is the most concerning: “….All that is required is an ability to teach the orthodox faith.”

        Actually, I would put that way down on my list of skills needed to be a pastor.

        If he can’t teach the orthodox faith, he can’t preach the Gospel, it’s part and parcel.

  33. Samuel – agree with what you found by Google – but again, those large seminaries state four years – but that includes internships and practicums – yes, the respective seminary may be accredited to confer an MDiv even with these internships and practicums (and these may be required by the agency doing accreditation) but let’s also agree that this MDiv is not the same as an MDiv or MA Theology by someone who is not a priesthood or ministerial candidate and whose focus is completely on coursework rather than priestly or ministerial practicums, etc. and go on to get an MA in Theology or use that MA as a steppingstone to a PhD or STD.

    My only point was to reinforce the experience articulated by Ann. You have listed some seminaries that are basically major archdiocesan regions – thus, exactly like the example I supplied – St. John’s for LA and other CA dioceses.

    Yes, you will find schools that give MDivs that include practicums or things such as CPE courses – again, would say that this is different from a purely theological masters degree such as described by Ann.

    Not sure your points change anything – again, it is up to the respective school or seminary and what an accreditation agency allows or does not allow.

    You passed over other comments I made which describe too many seminary programs such as Redemptoris Maris or some of the “older age” seminaries and what passes to meet ordination requirements.

  34. I respect the hard work and devotion many theologians have put into their work. Certainly, we have benefited from their studies over the century.
    But – in any given case – I would choose an ignorant priest with a large heart full of compassion over the most learned priest without one.

    I would also maintain that we could require every one of our priests to study 20 years of theology, but until we allow the possibility of priests who have been mothers or fathers and have raised children, we will have gaps in our priesthood!

  35. If today the Pope and bishops required that all Catholics take an oath to never again eat shrimp, I would have no problems signing such an oath because I don’t like shrimp! Those who enjoy shrimp may express different opinions!

    By the same token, it is easy for a straight man (or a gay man who loves no one) to condemn same sex marriage. It is easy for a male (or a woman who doesn’t feel the calling) to tell all women that it is forever impossible that they be a priest. It is easy for the celibate to condemn contraception. It is easy for the never married or happily married to condemn the divorced. It is easy for a member of the club to tell those outside the club that only those within the club teach “with authority.” But take care, for life ( God?) has a way of mocking our certainties.

    1. Please provide us with reasons why you automatically assume most or all seminaries teach men to interact with women as anything other than adults.

      1. Too many sermons over the years in which the priest referenced woman on the level of “if you let them get too close, you’ll get cooties!”

      2. Brigid,

        The ability to relate to and interact with women in personal, professional, and apostolic settings is one of the criteria on which a American seminarians are evaluated, per the Program of Priestly Formation, 5th ed. Other Bishops’ Conferences have (or should have) similar guidelines based on JPII’s Pastores Dabo Vobis

        From the PPF:
        #76: “The human formation of candidates for the priesthood aims to prepare them to be apt instruments of Christ’s grace. It does so by fostering the growth of a man who can be described in these ways:” (many are listed, but relevant to your point is:)
        – “A man who relates well with others, free of overt prejudice and willing to work with people of diverse cultural backgrounds: a man capable of wholesome relations with women and men as relatives, friends, colleagues, staff members, and teachers, and as encountered in areas of apostolic work.”

        and again in #92:
        “Human formation for celibacy should aim toward an affective maturity, which is the ability to live a true and responsible love. Signs of affective maturity in the candidate are prudence, vigilance over body and spirit, compassion and care for others, ability to express and acknowledge emotions, and a capacity to esteem and respect interpersonal relationships between men and women. Therefore, true friendship is an education in affective maturity.”

        If a candidate demonstrates that he lacks this affective maturity, it is the role of the seminary staff, vocations director, and bishop to ensure that he is deferred from ordination until he has reached proper maturity.

        The priests who gave the homilies you listened to probably lacked this affective maturity, either because they were formed in an era before it was given serious attention, or because they were advanced to orders when they should not have been.

      3. I forgot to mention:

        In my own experience, at both seminaries where I have been so far, friendships with men and women outside the seminary are not only permitted but encouraged, provided that they don’t become “exclusive friendships.” In my case, this has been through friendships built by being part of the campus pro-life club, through working with students and adults in the diocese to run a teen/young adult retreat program, and through campus social activities, in addition to seminary apostolates and summer pastoral internships.

      4. There you go, Brigid, Mr. Goodwright quoting a document that may or may not be implemented, followed, etc.

        After ten years of formation work, IMO, have experienced seminaries that struggle to implement these guidelines – it is a complex question and success hinges on elements such as – support and modeling interaction with females by rector, deans; are there women on the faculty; do they or are they part of the formation team?; are women on the seminary board; advisory boards; with CPE and intermships – do women supervise seminarians and are they able to provide feedback specifically on how well the candidate relates to women? (sorry, the list above is meaningless unless candidates are challenged to reflect on their interaction and behaviors around and with women. These spaced events that provide female contact – does it involve situations in which a candidate works for a woman; reports to a woman, provides female feedback to the candidate and formation team on their relational skills (or need for development)? Without these processes, you merely set up a situation in which you presume that the candidate learns by “osmosis”

        The more closed or isolated or insular the seminary, the more the above is not achieved.

        This is well stated: “If a candidate demonstrates that he lacks this affective maturity, it is the role of the seminary staff, vocations director, and bishop to ensure that he is deferred from ordination until he has reached proper maturity.

        The priests who gave the homilies you listened to probably lacked this affective maturity, either because they were formed in an era before it was given serious attention, or because they were advanced to orders when they should not have been.”

        But, even a casual reading of events across the US dioceses would lend one to question just how affectively mature are some bishops and clerics – examples abound – Burke and his fixation on TLM, cleric/male centered litrugy; continued mis-handling of abuse when experts wonder if the inclusion of women might have changed the process?; LCWR investigation; the Sr. Johnson case; etc.

  36. Fr Kramer is speaking from and for a society of conservative Catholic priests. His sampling of young people seems to be a bit skewed in this direction. They may indeed want “answers.” I find a number of young clergy to be quite “doctrinaire” and at times a bit “insensitive” to the people who are seeking meaning and faith. The old adage, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” still seems to hold true. And this tilt to the right, to a more rigid church, makes the Catholic Church seem more sectlike and less universal. All should feel welcome in this place called Gospel Christianity!

  37. Long ago I remember one of the senior priests in my diocese joking that “priests are only ordained seminarians”. As one of those long ago ordained seminarians, I can tell you that scholarship in seminaries varies widely depending on the quality of the faculty and the interest and capability of the students. A lot (I really don’t know how many) of seminarians perceive of the priesthood as involving the kind of “pastoral” work that really doesn’t require a lot of “academic” preparation. They are eager to suffer through the requirements of the seminary so they can get out “into the field” where the real action takes place. Actually, that was largely my own attitude and that of most of my peers from my days in the seminary. Now among the “John Paul II” generation of clergy there are some who seem to think their academic educations were vastly superior to old timers like myself. I see no evidence of that. Of course, this groups includes those who like to say among themselves that the priests of my generation “ruined” the church which they are now tasked to restore.

  38. Stanislaus Kosala :

    My complaints are not so much about the content of the church’s teaching necessarily but rather about the manner in which many Catholics relate to those who believe and live differently, in terms of rhetoric, attitudes, and behavior. For example, even if you accept the teaching of the church on homosexuality, you still have to find some way to account for the fact that there are people who experience love in such relationships, as well as orphaned children who have found a loving home with such couples. If you do not, then you’re not going to be convincing to most people.

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    “But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness.”

    I don’t think it’s our job to make the faith ‘convincing’ on non-Christian terms? Certainly what you say reflects reality in a sense. Many pre-Christian peoples were deeply attached to the polygamous tradition. They have had to give that up.

    1. That’s not a good comparison. ‘Christ is the Crucified and Risen Lord” is a truth of divine revelation, one that can’t be arrived at by reason alone. The church’s teachings on homosexuality are dervied from natural law and hence in principle are supposed to be accessible to human reason. The church has always throughout history tried to make its teachings convincing in different times and places to the people who occupied them.

  39. I’m late to this, but I think if one looks at what young people spend their money on and listen to in the course of their lives one gets a hint about what they “want.” Then spend time watching Taize videos or listening to that music. Notice that virtually everyone participating is very young.

    And, shock of all shock, let young people design and select music for a liturgy and see what they choose.

    As an old one myself, I simply cannot see how white haired old traditional men can hope to discover what their antitheses find spiritually uplifting

    1. I agree that older folks should act out of a fiduciary love rather than transference, projection or the Society of Creative Liturgical Anachronism (be it 1575 or 1975).

      That said, when I was young, I would have deeply appreciated someone giving me a meaningful choice by giving access to the best of the older and newer sacred music idioms, rather than simply acquiescing in the lowest common denominator taste of my peer group. That’s where the fiduciary aspect of elderhood comes in: it’s not charitable merely to defer – that’s giving up responsibility to inform, challenge and edify. Uninformed consent is not empowering.

      How can people be said to authentically reject something they’ve not been given the opportunity to first become familiar with?

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