Once a Priest

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After the officer was shot, another officer ran into the yard and shot the suspect once, killing him. Two other suspects were taken into custody and police are searching for the fourth man. He provided few details about the suspects, saying that the suspect in custody is 17 years old and that the group has criminal records and at least one has ties to a street gang. He did not identify the suspect who was killed.

Acevedo was attending the Democratic debate at Texas Southern University and rushed to the scene about 3 miles 4. In earlier remarks he made in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Acevedo angrily denounced politicians who may look to offer their sympathy to his wounded officer, while doing little legislatively to keep firearms from dangerous criminals. Acevedo, with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner at his side, thanked the Democratic mayor for his gun-control efforts and also praised Republican Texas Lt.

But alas, the pope emeritus and his allies may not have real cause for worry.

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That an otherwise revolutionary pope like Francis demonstrates personally the indestructibility of clericalism is the revelation. He has failed to bring laypeople into positions of real power.


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Equality for women as officeholders in the Church has been resisted precisely because it, like an end to priestly celibacy, would bring with it a broad transformation of the entire Catholic ethos: Yes to female sexual autonomy; yes to love and pleasure, not just reproduction, as a purpose of sex; yes to married clergy; yes to contraception; and, indeed, yes to full acceptance of homosexuals. No to male dominance; no to the sovereign authority of clerics; no to double standards. The model of potential transformation for this or any pope remains the radical post-Holocaust revision of Catholic teachings about Jews—the high point of Vatican II.

The habit of Catholic or Christian anti-Judaism is not fully broken, but its theological justification has been expunged. Under the assertive leadership of a pope, profound change can occur, and it can occur quickly. This is what must happen now. Francis will almost certainly come and go having never reckoned with the violent corruptions of the priesthood. Clerics on the right are determined to defeat him, no matter what he does. The Church conservatives know better than most that the opposite of the clericalism they aim to protect is not some vague elevation of laypeople to a global altar guild but democracy—a robust overthrow of power that would unseat them and their ilk.

But Catholic clericalism is ultimately doomed, no matter how relentlessly the reactionaries attempt to reinforce it.

The Vatican, with its proconsul-like episcopate, is the pinnacle of a structure of governance that owes more to emperors than to apostles. The profound discrediting of that episcopate is now under way. I want to be part of what brings about the liberation of the Catholic Church from the imperium that took it captive 1, years ago. I know that far more is at stake here than the anguish of a lone man on his knees. In North America and Europe, the falloff of Catholic laypeople from the normal practice of the faith has been dramatic in recent years, a phenomenon reflected in the diminishing ranks of clergy: Many parishes lack any priests at all.

What happens once a priest is ordained? - St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary - USA

In the United States, Catholicism is losing members faster than any other religious denomination. For every non-Catholic adult who joins the Church through conversion, there are six Catholics who lapse. Parts of the developing world are experiencing a growth in Catholicism, but those areas face their own issues of clericalism and scandal—and the challenge of evangelical Protestantism as well. But to simply leave the Church is to leave its worst impulses unchallenged and its best ones unsupported.

When the disillusioned depart, Catholic reactionaries are overjoyed. They look forward to a smaller, more rigidly orthodox institution. This shrinkage is the so-called Benedict option—named for the sixth-century founder of monasticism, not for Benedict XVI, although the pope emeritus probably approves. His April intervention described an imagined modern dystopia—pedophilia legitimated, pornography displayed on airplanes—against which the infallible Church must stand in opposition.


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The renewal offered by Vatican II may have been thwarted, but a reformed, enlightened, and hopeful Catholic Church is essential in our world. On urgent problems ranging from climate change, to religious and ethnic conflict, to economic inequality, to catastrophic war, no nongovernmental organization has more power to promote change for the better, worldwide, than the Catholic Church.

So let me directly address Catholics, and make the case for another way to respond to the present crisis of faith than by walking away. The Church is the people of God. The Church is a community that transcends space and time. Catholics should not yield to clerical despots the final authority over our personal relationship to the Church.

I refuse to let a predator priest or a complicit bishop rip my faith from me. The Reformation, which erupted years ago, boiled down to a conflict over the power of the priest. Likewise, to introduce democratic structures into religious governance, elevating the role of the laity, was to overturn the hierarchy according to which every ordained person occupied a place of superiority. That is the stance I choose to take. If there are like-minded, anticlerical priests, and even an anticlerical pope, then we will make common cause with them.

Joyce was a self-described exile, and exile can characterize the position of many former Catholics, people who have sought refuge in another faith, or in no faith. But exile of this kind is not what I suggest. Rather, I propose a kind of internal exile. One imagines the inmates of internal exile as figures in the back of a church, where, in fact, some dissenting priests and many free-spirited nuns can be found as well. We are not deserters.

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Replacing the diseased model of the Church with something healthy may involve, for a time, intentional absence from services or life on the margins—less in the pews than in the rearmost shadows. But it will always involve deliberate performance of the works of mercy: feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, visiting the sick, striving for justice. It will involve, for many, unauthorized expressions of prayer and worship—egalitarian, authentic, ecumenical; having nothing to do with diocesan borders, parish boundaries, or the sacrament of holy orders.

That may be especially true in so-called intentional communities that lift up the leadership of women. These already exist, everywhere. No matter who presides at whatever form the altar takes, such adaptations of Eucharistic observance return to the theological essence of the sacrament. Christ is experienced not through the officiant but through the faith of the whole community. In what way, one might ask, can such institutional detachment square with actual Catholic identity?

Through devotions and prayers and rituals that perpetuate the Catholic tradition in diverse forms, undertaken by a wide range of commonsensical believers, all insisting on the Catholic character of what they are doing. Their ranks would include ad hoc organizers of priestless parishes; parents who band together for the sake of the religious instruction of youngsters; social activists who take on injustice in the name of Jesus; and even social-media wizards launching, say, ChurchResist.


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  • The gradual ascendance of lay leaders in the Church is in any case becoming a fact of life, driven by shortages of personnel and expertise. Now is the time to make this ascendance intentional, and to accelerate it. The pillars of Catholicism—gatherings around the book and the bread; traditional prayers and songs; retreats centered on the wisdom of the saints; an understanding of life as a form of discipleship—will be unshaken. The Vatican itself may take steps, belatedly, to catch up to where the Church goes without it.

    But in ways that cannot be predicted, have no central direction, and will unfold slowly over time, the exiles themselves will become the core, as exiles were the core at the time of Jesus.

    Catholic priest, formerly a pastor in Marion, on leave after sex abuse allegation

    They will take on responsibility and ownership—and, as responsibility and ownership devolve into smaller units, the focus will shift from the earthbound institution to its transcendent meaning. This is already happening, in front of our eyes. Tens of millions of moral decisions and personal actions are being informed by the choice to be Catholics on our own terms, untethered from a rotted ancient scaffolding. The choice comes with no asterisk. We will be Catholics, full stop. As anticlerical Catholics, we will simply refuse to accept that the business-as-usual attitudes of most priests and bishops should extend to us, as the walls of their temple collapse around them.

    The future will come at us invisibly, frame by frame, as it always does—comprehensible only when run together and projected retrospectively at some distant moment. But it is coming. One hundred years from now, there will be a Catholic Church. Count on it.

    This may not be inevitable, but it is more than possible. The Church I foresee will be governed by laypeople, although the verb govern may apply less than serve. There will be leaders who gather communities in worship, and because the tradition is rich, striking chords deep in human history, such sacramental enablers may well be known as priests. They will include women and married people. They will be ontologically equal to everyone else. They will not owe fealty to a feudal superior. Catholic schools and universities will continue to submit faith to reason—and vice versa.

    Catholic hospitals will be a crucial part of the global health-care infrastructure. Catholic religious orders of men and women, some voluntarily celibate, will continue to protect and enshrine the varieties of contemplative practice and the social Gospel. Jesuits and Dominicans, Benedictines and Franciscans, the Catholic Worker Movement and other communities of liberation theology—all of these will survive in as yet unimagined forms.

    The Church will be fully alive at the local level, even if the faith is practiced more in living rooms than in basilicas.