WHAT I WRITE TODAY COMES WITH NO CLAIM OF INFALLIBILITY. IT IS MEANT TO PROVOKE DEBATE.
YESTERDAY A COMMENTATOR RAISED THE INTERESTING QUESTION OF HAVING A CATHOLICISM WITHOUT PRIESTS.
Is that possible?
Yes it is.
Is it desirable?
Let’s discuss it.
In the beginning of the Christian Church there were no priests or bishops.
There were apostles, disciples and “others”.
The early Christians continued to do their worshipping of God in the Jewish temple, and probably occasionally in Jewish synagogues.
They met in each other’s homes for the breaking of the bread in memory of Jesus, as instructed by Jesus.
I believe that the person who “presided” at that breaking of bread varied – an apostle, a disciple, an “other”.
As the Christian community grew, a natural deveopment of “structures” happened. I’m sure most of the men at least had jobs to go to and I’m sure the women were busy as wives and mothers etc.
The appostles felt called to full time service of the Word so “deacons” were appointed to look after the orphans and widows – the community’s outreach work.
It is interesting to remember that in the early church people were appointed to positions by the community after people were nominated, the community prayed and then drew lots. This happened in the case of Mattias who was chosen to succeed Judas as an apostle.
Gradually “elders” emerged whom we could regard as the early expression of a “priesthood”.
As communities grew and new communities formed a senior elder emerged in communities who were called “overseers” or “episcopi”.
At this stage there was no formal priesthood – although as we see in the appointment of deacons etc prayers were said over the chosen and sometimes there was a laying on of hands.
With a couple of exceptions the Apostles were never the overseer or episcopi. The Apostles were the servants of the whole church and not just in charge of one community.
The role of overseer or episcopi eventually became the role of bishop. The Apostles were apostles and not bishops. In that sense it is wrong to call current bishops “successors of the apostles”. They are not. They are the successors of the senior elders in local churches.
The early church did adopt many of the formalities of the synagogues.
When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Emperor the Christian community also adopted some empire structures – with eventually the pope becoming the emperor of the West.
Over time the episcopacy became part of the ecclesiastical / political establishment with bishops being local ascendancy overlords as well as bishops.
This was a clear case of trying to serve Caesar as well as Christ. It does not work.
Alongside of all of this was the development of the theology of the Sacraments.
In the beginning of the Church the early believers did have an appreciation that certain actions were “holy” and brought God’s grace.
The seven sacraments did develop over time and the understanding we have now of Sacraments became finally crystallised in the 16th century.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with “development” in theology and practice – as long as the development stays within the spirit of the original practice, as is according to the mind of Christ.
The problem we have in our Catholic Church of today is a result, not of the existence of deacons, priests and bishops, but is the development of ministry into clericalism and hierarchicalism.
It is about the abuse of power and authority.
It is about service turning into overlordism.
It is about the cult if the priest as a cleric.
It is about the cult of the bishop as hierarch.
It is about the cult of Rome as empire.
It is about the cult of pope as Supreme Pontiff.
The modern church needs to return and discover the early New Testament church.
In that church there were deacons, elders and episcopi elected after community prayer.
There were “Holy Acts” celebrated in the community.
The deacons elders and episcopi were not clerics or hierarchs, were elected by the whole community after prayer and were servants – washers of feet.
Most of them were married. Many were parents. Many had day jobs. Some of them were women too.
Can we have Catholicism without priests / clerics.
Yes we can.
And we need to address the great HERESY in this area.
The heresy that says that priests are ontologically changed creatures – and, in a common misconception, as such are superior to the laity who are “the lowest form of church life”.
1. Let The Vatican overturn the 1929 concordat and be bound by Italian laws.
2. Decentralise The Vatican and give all power back to the national churches.
3. Let the pope simply become the bishop of Rome.
4. Let the Patriarch of Jerusalem be the first among equals.
5. Have optional celibacy for all.
6. Allow women to be deacons priests and bishops.
7. Run the church by the New Testament and not on canon law.
In the best of churches you will always have people who want to dominate. Keeping churches small and positions rotating helps counteract this human inclination.
The Basic Christian Communities that evolved in South America is a possible model of reformation.
Maybe the Church needs New Testament type “priests” rather than clerical priests?
A PINT OF PRIESTHOOD !!!!!
54 replies on “CATHOLICISM WITHOUT PRIESTS?”
I agree with you but I feel that an example needs to be set from the prophetic:
1.) Ditch the titles – “Bishops” become “Overseers”, “Priests” become “Community leaders”, “Deacons” become “Workers and carers”
2.) Ditch the robes and garb. Ceremonial robes simply set clergy apart from the laity.
3.) Ditch the liturgy and the Divine Office. Pray from the heart and in the Spirit. This was good enough for the early Church, so why not now?
Once we do al these things we will hve a New Testament Church. Overseer Pat… I challenge you to lead by example.
Can I share a story?
A number of years ago I met a priest at Buswells Hotel Dublin for lunch. He was completely dressed down and was angry that I was wearing my collar. After lunch he walked me back to my car on Stephens Green. On Grafton Street a very distressed young man approached me and asked if I was a priest because he needed help. He was a French university student who was in holiday in Ireland. He had forgotten his bi polal meds and was beginning to feel very unwell. I immediately drove him to A&E and stayed with him till he got the meds he needed. I do not wear my collar for adulation or preference. I wear it for two reasons
1. As witness.
2. As an invitation to people to ask me for help if they need to.
In recent years the collar has got me more verbal abuse than anything else.
Pat will you be the first to step down as a priest leech?
10.45: Pat doesn’t realise the dependency he has on the goodwill, financial and otherwise, of others to fund his life and services. When Pat lives like St. Francis – flimsy robes, sandals and in genuine poverty, truly living what he preaches, then we’ll follow. the lead. The change you ask for must being with you, as all real change must begin with ourselves individually. There is a great imperative now to rebuild our parishes in the image of CHRIST, following the early Church model. It is practically mpossible to avoid disagreements, conflicts and differing ecpectations in any group of like minded people. I imagine that most parishes seek to make their community one of caring, wrelcome and inclusitivity, a place of true prayer, charity – all centred in Christ in the Eucharist. Any new vision will not be without struggles but there is nothing now preventing any priest and parish support groups creating a new way. I believe most parishes genuinely endeavour to do this. True and necessary change beings with the local Christian community. The past few months have truly challenged all of us.
I do realise that he is totally dependant on God and the kindness of others for all he has. The state pension I now have is the result of my paying national insurance contributions for 42 years.
And I have not had the luxury for 34 years now of a diocesan salary appearing monthly in my bank account.
Many parishes I know are run by a dictator PP.
St Francis also depended on the good will, financial and otherwise of others. His dependence on the providence of God, also meant relying on the generosity of others. On his death bed he asked for the Lady Jacoba to bring him sweetmeats.
He also instructed that the best should be used for churches, altars and the celebration of the Mass.
My favourite thing is one of his instructions for Christmas – “The walls of the friary should be hanging with meat”
For all these things to happen, then Francis and the brothers needed to rely on the providence of God, which was manifested through the generosity of others.
Would some today have called him a leech rather than a model of the Christian life?
BishopPat. You don’t have a salary but you have a church provided home which happens to be rent-free. My rent causes a constant struggle for me and what’s more… my rent is due to go up in September.
Indeed I do not pay rent.
one movement infiltrates another, so in practice the results are touch & go. Use more Holy Spirit prayer! 80 or 60 years ago, reputedly it was the Knights, and Teilhard, that were getting under everybody’s feet – like Fly’s patchwork quilt!
Robes and Clerical collars are forms of “power dressing” which serve only to belittle the laity and to raise up the clergy. As soon as we abandon such dress, both inside and outside the Church – the church will begin its journey towards ceasing to be insitutional and being a prophetic Church of service.
In the times of reformation the concept of a “great levelling” was tossed about… and then a few years later ignored as hierarchies were rebuilt in both Protestant and Catholic circles (Anglicans started Workhouses!!!)
If the great levelling was restarted and stuck, a church run by lay AND ordained (but with no outward distinction) could be the Church of SERVICE and not og institutional power.
Join the Presbyterians!
Ontologically different doesn’t mean better than other people and the church doesn’t teach that. Baptism and Confirmation also have an ontological dimension. The theology of “sacramental character” begins with Augustine it isn’t just a medieval idea. Ontological change is about being/becoming. There is a real danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Understanding the concept is important and then clarifying it’s implications by reforming the so-called “rights of clerics” in canon law is perhaps a way forward. Foot washing is also priestly in so far as it alludes to Christ laying down his life for his friends, it is not an alternative to a sacramental priesthood but in my opinion a doorway to better understanding and expressing what it means to “be” a priest.
When was the term ontologically changed first used?
That specifically clergy are “forever after the order of Gobbledigook” (if the expression can be pardoned) was I think, not in the meaning of Holy Scripture. Its hidden rationale at any rate seems to be to not appropriately discipline or even (from an early stage) guide those included.
10.31, Divine Office should be used by more people than only clergy. Why did authorities imply solely clergy, and high demand movements, must hog it?
I was always overjoyed that I had been “elevated to the lay state”.
I briefly read the archdiocese of Dublin warned of a mad rush when the churches reopen, even suggesting some sort of crowd control measures may have to be introduced.
I find that hard to believe, Bp Pat.
Eamon Martin recently said that his greatest worry was that thousands of old people would sneak out of old peoples homes in the middle of the night, break into churches, force open tabernacles and kill each other over consecrated hosts.
9.50: When and where did Eamon Martin say such? Give us reliable evidence and sources where we can read for ourselves. Having opened our church for the past two weekends – adhering to all requirements and guidelines – with 300 plus visiting over a 2 hour period, my sense is that many, many look forward to celebrating together again. We know it will be a very challenging return with all kinds of preparations being put in place by parish teams. People will naturally be very cautious and rightly so. We are being called to create something worthwhile and wonderful for our local communities. We will, as parishes, be called to be more caring, especially in reaching out to the many people who have been mentally, emotionally and spiritually affected by the CORONAVIRUS environment. Let us encourage and support such good initiatives.
9.50: Give us the sources of your attributed comments to Eamon Martin….You should be able to validate your sources..otherwise you are lying.
He said it during Mass from his private chapel on the Feast of Blessed Tom Dooley.
Buckley you are a liar.
And you’re an ejit 🤣
The fathers are rather lacking in humour aren’t they.
Ten or eleven years ago, the Ryan Report identified some 800 known abusers. Any other organization would be closed down by now.
(Pell petition 69,783!)
Begorra Pat you are onth ball. NT church is the way to go but there has to be some sort of accountability and reference point. CoE say parish council has last say but do they? We want to keep warm but a patchwork quilt brings up challenges hi
There is something more sinister than clerical dress – although, in its place clerical dress is pretty innocuous. It is something I heard yesterday listening to + Nichols being interviewed about the opening up of churches in England and Wales. It was what I would call “exceptionalism”, a frame of mind and attitude that says “we are so special that we need special treatment”. It has to do with the opening up of churches for, at the least, private prayer. + Nichols has come up with the argument that the Catholic community deserves special consideration because of “differentiation”, namely that we have a particular need to visit the Blessed Sacrament and can do so individually and this is an integral part of Catholic identity and culture, whereas Muslims and Pentecostalists and others emphasis group worship and prayer and therefore cannot yet be considered for release from lockdown. I was aghast ! Only a while ago he was talking endlessly about the common good, about cooperative and collaborative action in the interests of the common good. And now, that’s all out of the window, and we are only to think of our own needs and to demand special treatment. There is a great bit of me suspects that this is a way of trying to get at least some people through the turnstiles so that they can make offerings, light candles etc., and accrue income. But, even if it is not just for that reason, it seems incredibly divisive to be pleading for special treatment for one particular group, and to hell with the rest. I have never really trusted + Nichols instincts and motives, and have seen him so many times taking a political and self-serving road when it suits him and his agenda – think of the Soho Mass and his caving in to Roman pressure in his inordinate desire for a red hat, so much so that he was prepared to sell the LGBTQ community down the river. I too want to see churches open, but at the right time, and together in solidarity with other traditions and faiths. Yes, you might soon be able to get a haircut, or a coffee and donut, but taking that as your impetus to demand special, exceptional treatment and to break ranks with others in the same situation and leave them behind, is pretty low and mean.
In a little under 6 months, on 8 November 2020, + Nichols will be 75 years old. Do you think he will offer his resignation, or will it have to be demanded of him by the Vatican ? If Papa Francesco is reading this, please accept or demand his resignation. We have had enough of + Nichols and he is ready to wander off to the delights of Chiswick and retirement. Then, please, give us someone who really has the ‘smell of the sheep’, who is not ambitious, haughty, imperious, and who will love his priests and his people. Is that too much to ask ? He doesn’t have to be the most whizkid manager – he can hire in people to do that – but he does need to be a real pastor and able to relate in love and generosity to his people.
Elsie’s probably knocked off five years already on her age, so she’ll be coming up for eighty more like. Many actresses do the same.
+ Nichols and + Eamon Martin alongside the other Bishops should be ashamed of themselves.
Churches were never to close for Funerals and the Government stated this again yesterday as you will see online and this has always been the case.
All Bishops in the UK close Churches for everything.
Secretary of State says again ” However, funerals are still able to go ahead in places of worship and in crematoria where possible to do so safely.”
People do not need private prayer in Churches they need Requiem Holy Masses for their Loved ones.
+ Nichols loves committees and publicity but have you seen many online holy Masses or Services from Him yet other Bishops are on constantly more so the Bishop of Derry.
£ 360 Million Faith in Action Funds by the Government.
+ Nichols and Cres alongside + Eamon Martin will be all over that.
+ Longley of Birmingham ? + Stock of Leeds ? Who ?
They should send Swarbrick from Lancaster but then again, he’s too loving and prayerful. Looks like Roche will get it, although Keenan from Scottish Diocese will be considered.
Yes, I hear good things about Swarbrick. Maybe that’s what we need, a loving and prayerful man ? But, please, not Roche. He almost ruined Leeds with his grandiose plans. Best leave him in Rome where he can do no harm.
Roaches is already 70. He’s too old. Wilson would be good.
Or Annie Walker, she’s ten years younger than Amy.
Keenan?!? LMAO He’ll be lucky to get Glasgow. Busted flush there. The Vatican’s had more complaints there than most Scottish high hats.
+ Nichols is 75 in November and wants to stay on for a few more years as he will have voting rights till 80 as Cardinal.
+ Longley likely not want it after all the Birmingham situation with the Enquiry.
+ Roche is now 70 so he would be about 73 then.
+ Keenan no chance he is a company man with high ambitions but status quo has happened in his five years there and first time ever two c/o clergy.
if it is a Scottish Bishop the + Cushley more in the running for it.
However the last Archbishop was only 52 for Southwark so + Stock and + Mason could be the ones to watch.
Dublin is the next appointment + Tighe, +Leahy or + Nulty. but + McGurkin things maybe him.
Be interesting who the two Assistants at Dublin will be as well.
The YouTube video above: Is the young priest there autistic, lacking something, a cretin, or as the Italians would say has a certain ‘mancanza” ? Never mind the delivery, the substance of what he is saying – apostolic succession, ex opere operato, ontological signing etc – is mechanistic theological bullshit, which only the weak of mind and intellect still hang on to, surely ? And to think that this priest and his drivel is being inflicted on a congregation week after week in some parish. If he only knew his history he would know that apostolic succession is a fallacy. Oh, but I forgot, it’s all solved by ‘ecclesia supplet” when it doesn’t fit the facts.! I despair !
Just a cretin I think.
9.23: But Pat, you’ve had better luxuries than most: A partner to share expenses and what about your exorbitant fees for weddings, baptisms and funerals…..etc……all these offerings amount to a huge income. I don’t get 300/400/500 euro for weddings and wouldn’t even ask for such. You are not a pauper bishop and you are entitled to your salary.
I never said I was a pauper. I do not think that £ 300 is an exorbitant fee for a wedding. You dont get that for weddings but you get £ 2000 a month plus other expenses. I believe everyone is entitled to a living wage.
11.48: Depending on the Diicese: A 2000 euro a month or less now with a pay cut is for all personal living expenses, bills etc…..Do not mislead. And if you perform 50 or more weddings, that’s pretty good!! Good luck…..
11.48: Pat, don’t let us retrace this old chestnut: pitting one against another about salaries.. It’s not an issue and most of us realise the necessity for a pay cut. But the blog should focus on the good challenge put by your article today. Changes will definitely come our way. This period of lockdown has certainly.made me more aware of the need to focus on initiatives that can embrace, reach out to and welcome everyone in our community. Even though my energy levels are not 100%, and am often didlusioned by the realities of a broken and dysfunctional Church and priesthood, I have found a new impetus re: connecting with people. What has occurred to me so clearly is that many, many people are wounded in different ways and seek some forum for gathering, celebrating, to find healing, be it spiritually, socially and psychologically. Now, as a caring parish we must respond creatively. I hope we can be a more compassionate church community in the Spirit of Christ.
11 25: Buckley, many would call you a cretin but having looked at the full meaning of the word I’ll be kind to you……a nasty condemner more likely, Pat!
I’m sure many would 😁
Each community should be independent , and decisions made by that community , and each community free to choose from its member if it wants anyone ordained . And as a community call down the Holy Spirit on someone . It would remove the need to have a Bishop altogether .And as a consequence each community free to decide if it wants to celebrate mass , or any other form of worship
We already have that, it’s called the Church of Scotland.
3.07::::Sounds a good idea to me but what are the results and fruits of this approach in Scotland: many splintered groups!
This is subsidiarity. Those who adhere with Holy Spirit, recognise each other.
You are describing Congregationalism. Why don’t you join them?
Just so you know, Bp Pat:
– Pell petition now 72,000.
– Wonersh.org still down.
– PJL whereabouts still unknown.
To the follower who alleges that Bishop John Keenan has had complaints lodged against him – put up or shut up. This is false and malicious.
The Scottish bishops say they recognise that parish life cannot quickly return to normal until a vaccine or treatment is available and “do not expect this to happen until at least 2025.”
I wonder what the Irish bishops such as Mrs Shufflebottom and Dr Turtle make of that, Bp Pat?
The Scottish Bishops are a disgrace always looking for money Text XXX donations for your parish during lockdown.
They are selling property at the old tribunal.
Scots College needing repairs.
Yet they have found money for a group lead by Professors for Covid – 19 yet the Parish Priests could tell them what is needed.
+ John Keenan had a Synod cost thousands and produced nothing everything is status quo.
Very very poor leadership even during this crisis he had to ask the people to watch online in Glasgow yet has some of the richest parishes in Scotland.
And how about + Keenan’s two C/o we here nothing about them all going quiet.
+ Keenan will need to improve his PR or Glasgow will pass him by.
Francis surprised the Italian church by appointing a friar to head the archdiocese of Genoa. The face of the auxiliary at the press conference showed that. A working PP will very likely be on the cards for Westminster and Dublin.
Maybe whoever the PP of the Dominican Church in the north inner city is will be in the running – run off his feet with pastoral zeal and engagement with the People of God in his parish – adult faith formation groups; social justice groups; VdePaul; vibrant liturgies etc.