30 July 2013

"Men who are not ambitious, who are married to one church. . ."

In his address to the CELAM (South America's USCCB), the Holy Father addressed the role of the bishop in the missionary work of the Church:

Bishops must lead, which is not the same thing as being authoritarian. . .Bishops must be pastors, close to people, fathers and brothers, and gentle, patient and merciful. Men who love poverty, both interior poverty, as freedom before the Lord, and exterior poverty, as simplicity and austerity of life. Men who do not think and behave like “princes”. Men who are not ambitious, who are married to one church without having their eyes on another. Men capable of watching over the flock entrusted to them and protecting everything that keeps it together: guarding their people out of concern for the dangers which could threaten them, but above all instilling hope: so that light will shine in people’s hearts. Men capable of supporting with love and patience God’s dealings with his people. The Bishop has to be among his people in three ways: in front of them, pointing the way; among them, keeping them together and preventing them from being scattered; and behind them, ensuring that no one is left behind, but also, and primarily, so that the flock itself can sniff out new paths.

I am hopeful that this Pope will push to end careerism, ladder-climbing, and other forms of Miteritis. The politics involved in climbing the ecclesial ladder encourage secrets-keeping, trading favors, back-stabbing, and other worldly tactics that destroy trust in the Church. Too many priests tread to a lukewarm, squishy path in order not to draw the Wrong Kind of Attention to themselves so that their ambitions for the Miter aren't diminished. We need faithful teachers at the cathedral not CEO's and politicians.
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10 comments:

  1. Fr., CELAM is not exactly "South America's USCCB", being a council of the 22 Latin american and caribbean episcopal conferences, or so says Wikipedia (I couldn't find that information on the English page)...

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    1. Yes, I know. But calling it South America's USCCB is the closest I could get for my US readers.

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  2. It just occurred to me that the lack of "careerism" is one reason the Religious priests I know out here are very willing to "say it like it is" - their eye is not focused on the next step in their career, but rather on the spiritual health of their flock (which thankfully for me, extends beyond the borders of their parish!). And also, the young barely out of seminary priests I know are still full of that idealistic zeal which is all too quickly tempered by a concern for "popularity" and "not rocking the boat."

    We do seem to have a good, Pastoral Bishop here, for which I am thankful. Hopefully his priests will learn from and follow his excellent example.

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    1. Religious have their own version of careerism. It's less pronounced among OP's b/c we elect our leaders for fixed terms. But the temptation to be the Power Behind the Throne is still there. Cliques are infamous in religious life, a natural tendency for like to attract like and these cause a great deal of trouble for those in the "out group."

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    2. Now why did you have to go and ruin my idealistic view of all you OP's, and OCD's, etc...? ;-)

      I meant as a viewer from the pews, the local careerism is less pronounced in those religious I have encountered. Surely behind the scenes it can be a different story.

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    3. That's me: Ruiner of Illusions.

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    4. Quite a noble job... ;)

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  3. Can the Pope push to end careerism while continuing the practice of advancing bishops from see to shinier see? Can he say he wants bishops who are married to one church, and then move them to another?

    Well, he *can* of course. I wonder whether he will.

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    1. Tom, I think we're talking Ideal Situation here; that is, the I.S. is for each bishop to be married to his diocese. Of course, the first problem is: the Archdiocese of Los Angeles require a more experienced hand than does the Diocese of Jackson, MS. How does a bishop get the experience necessary to run L.A. if L.A is his first "marriage"?

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    2. Is it the ideal situation, or is it the normative situation that Church governance has fallen away from?

      As for Los Angeles, in near-perfect ignorance of the complexity of the problem, I'll say that a priest born and raised in Los Angeles would have the experience necessary to run the Archdiocese if he also has the necessary episcopal charisms. (But then, I also have naive thoughts on the silliness (or non-normativity) of a diocese the size of Los Angeles.)

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