Headlines like the above one really annoy me. Something like this is such a poor understanding of the nature of the Church it is sad. And of course it is from Catholic journalist (former president of the International Federation of Catholic Press Agencies) so the ignorance is even sadder. To even relate positions in the Church in terms of power is to totally miss the Gospel or an understanding of what Jesus called his disciples to do. The proper understanding is akin to one of the Pope’s titles Servus Servorum Dei (Servant of the Servants of God). Being a servant is the proper understanding for both those in the ministerial priesthood and the common The Common Priesthood of the Faithful. Exactly as Jesus said "If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."
Throughout history there have of course been people who have seeked positions in the Church precisely for perceived power. But this only proves original sin and not how we should exercise our roles in the Church. The priestly shortage of course means increased role of the laity in both teaching and administration within the parish. There is nothing wrong with this there is no reason that we shouldn’t be involved in these roles when properly ordered. Even when a priestly shortage becomes less of a problem this is still a good thing to take the load off of priests in mundane administration or in teaching roles. The problem is of course those who see this in terms of power and not as being a servant to the Church and Christ its head. When they teach their own teaching or the latest fads on university campuses instead of being a faithful servant to the truth. Whatever our role within the Church we should never seek power, but to say with the Gospel `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ And as servants we hope one day to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ The Church doesn’t have a power vacuum, it has a servant vacuum.
Now as to the article itself it has it good and not so good parts.
…The shortage of priests threatens hierarchical control of the Catholic Church.
You can almost see the sneer when people type out hierarchical and the same mistake of power shows up with the world control. You would never know that hierarchical means sacred order the way it is used today as a progressive swear word. Another paragraph takes the mandatory swipe at the discipline of celibacy.
…There’s nothing comparable to the volume of claims against the church in other denominations, no bankruptcies triggered by sex scandals in Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and other churches. There’s nothing like it in Jewish or Muslim institutions. This leads some Catholics to wonder whether celibacy has anything to do with the crisis
Well how about the fact that our very unity makes us more of a target? Sue your local non-congregational congregation for an alleged past act of sexual abuse and you won’t run into very deep pockets. The same goes for most churches whether Christian or not who are much higher to go after legally if you want to go beyond the local church. You might be able to bankrupt a local church, but you won’t be able to go after the whole denomination effectively. The argument also misses the fact that public schools have a much higher rate of abuse. You just aren’t allowed to sue them because of government immunity that even if waived allows only 180 to provide a formal claim (See Archbishop Chaput’s recent article on the subject). Last I checked teachers were allowed to be married.
…The Catholic Church says that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered." Some wonder whether the imposition of lifetime celibacy on young men entering the priesthood is not "intrinsically disordered" in the 21st century.
A good remedy for a snarky comment like that is a little G.K. Chesterton
An imbecile habit has arisen in modern controversy of saying that such and such a creed can be held in one age but cannot be held in another. Some dogma, we are told, was credible in the twelfth century, but is not credible in the twentieth. You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but cannot be believed on Tuesdays. You might as well say of a view of the cosmos that it was suitable to half-past three, but not suitable to half-past four. — Orthodoxy
The Catechism explains that compulsory celibacy allows men to give themselves entirely to God. It does not mention that it allows men to give themselves entirely to the church, to their bishops and religious superiors, who assign duties without needing to consider wives and children. Celibacy’s spiritual gift to those it binds is accompanied by their own gift of service to church authorities.
Yes once again everything is about power and control of individuals. Too bad he wasn’t around to advise St. Paul on the subject. Well at least the article doesn’t end too badly.
…Such traditions, including celibacy, are not optional for individual Catholics. They are optional for the pope to decide for the whole church. Benedict XVI, beginning his pontificate with a stirring encyclical on love, is a man of prayer and pragmatism, befitting a lover of God and humankind.
He is famous as a conservative. What he wants to conserve, perhaps more than celibacy, is the ability of the church to teach with authority.