Well done, + Pat, on your 25 years as a bishop. And even more years as a priest.
I was ordained some 30 + years ago, and I am now in the process of retiring early.
Lucky, I guess, that I have options and am able to set down ministry in my early 60s.
Why ? Well, you know, at a very practical level I am just tired of the ever increasing demands on me and ever increasing expectation that I simply take on more and more, and just keep going on and on.
All this is from a bishop and diocese that just wants to keep the show on the road and these days has little respect or care for the priests who do the work.
However, more significantly, I have grown and developed over the years and now find myself out of step with so many significant things that the RC Church stands by and teaches.
The Gospel values still stand strong for me, but the institutional Church offends me these days – everything from the clerically dominated hierarchical system of decision making and governance (I’ve already hinted at the distain and arrogance of the bishop and diocese to its priests), to the toxic and damaging clerical culture that leads so many of my brothers in to dysfunction and unhappiness, and a good number of them in to criminality as we have seen in such egregious abuse (and please don’t tell me that this has nothing to do with the way priests are trained, live, function, and fail !).
GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION
Not to mention the hurtful burden of having to carry these sins myself as someone who is a priest of the Church and thereby guilty by association.
I add also the dolt headed intransigence of the Church to seriously consider the role of women in ministry, especially when it is clear that young men are studiously avoiding the priesthood recognising that it is not a way as currently lived in the RC Church to happiness, fulfilment, or even to effective and holy service.
And this especially resulting in people like me having to do more and more.
So, why not ordain women, giving them rightful respect for their undoubted gifts and calling ? Why should I plough myself into the ground when the Church will not help itself ?
CHURCH REJECTING PEOPLE
After many years of ministry, I have found myself required to hold so many people at bay from full inclusion in to the life of the Church, especially the sacraments – so often through difficulties in relationships and marriages. I’m tired of being the gatekeeper who bars the way, and even though I have always been as flexible and compassionate as I can be, there is only so much that I can do.
OUTDATED AND DISCREDITED THEOLOGY OF SEXUALITY
And why do I have to continue to peddle a long outdated and discredited theology of sexuality, which is clearly wrong and hurtful and offensive to so many and keeps them at arm’s length ? So, even though Francis is perhaps making some way forward in some of these areas, it is too late for me and I am hanging up my hat.
Life will be good and positive for me in the future, and I look forward to it.
OTHER PEIESTS TRAPPED INSIDE THE CHURCH
I fear for my brothers who do not have any options but to stay and find themselves subject to episcopal diktats, given even more parishes to run, and have to tacitly support Church policies, thinking and even theology that is clearly wrong and damaging.
I feel some sense of abandonment leaving them to it, but after much time and thinking, I know that I have to prioritise my health and wellbeing right now. I’ve tried hard enough and long enough, but enough is now, and now I am offski !
BISHOP PISSED OFF
The Bishop is pissed off because it presents him with a problem, but he has not the slightest sense of care for me. I’m just a problem for him because I’m puling up stumps.
I’m one sense it is very sad when a priest has to walk away disillusioned.
But, on the other hand, there is so much about the RCC to disillusion people and, indeed priests.
This man is:
1. Tired of ever increasing demands and unrealistic expectations.
One can see how such demands and expectations can be exhausting and soul destroying.
2. He has experienced his bishop as uncaring.
This very week priest, I dealt with a priest who was ill and in need of personal and practical medical support, and his bishop, when told, did not want to know.
I brought the priest for his medical procedure, stayed with him overnight , brought him to his post operative check up, and left him home again.
More and more, RCC bishops are neglecting their sick and older priests.
3. Our priest correspondent is tired of the whole hierarchical and clerical club that leads to dysfunction, addiction, and sometimes, crime.
4. Our priest feels GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION.
If you stay in an abusive and corruption church and clerical cabal, then you are guilty by association – especially if you don’t publicly express your horror and rejection of what’s going on.
RCC priests, whether they like it or not, are public representatives of a thoroughly evil institution.
If you take their pay and benefits you are compromised. Simple!
5. Our priest is tired of being the gatekeeper – of an organisation that rejects various groups of people because of who they are and who they love – rejection that runs contrary to the Gospel and spirit of Jesus Christ.
6. Our priest is tired of being a propagator of outdated and discredited theology.
7. Finally, our priest feels compassion for the many priests trapped in the RCC and not having the means to escape.
ME – 47 YEARS IN……..
Looking back, I think that people like Cahal Daly, unintentionally, did me a great favour.
They maliciously and savagely slashed the ecclesiastical umbilical cord that attached me to the RCC creature.
And while that was, at the time, painful, distressing, and confusing, it was a great blessing in disguise – and leaves me at 71, still a very content and practising catholic (small c), priest and bishop – with no desire or need to “get out” of faith or priesthood.
And that’s precisely because I am free of hierarchy, clericalism, and institutional asphyxiation.
In other words, I have “The Freedom of the Sons and Daughters of God.“
No one can have two masters.
One cannot be the servant of both God and Rome.