Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Saying Amen

This ought to be an interesting read:

According to a listing on Amazon.com a new book is due out this October. Published by Ave Maria Press and entitled Forward in Hope: Saying Amen to Lay Ecclesial Ministry, the paperback is being authored by our own Bishop Matthew H. Clark.

I suspect this will be our brother Matthew's attempt to rationalize the pastoral desolation he will be bequeathing to his successor in another 38 months.

I can't wait to read the chapter on Sister Joan.

Update: From the Ave Maria Press web site:

Currently in the U.S., there are over 30,000 lay ecclesial ministers serving the Catholic Church, and another 16,000 studying in ministry formation programs--nearly five times the number of men preparing for ordination to the priesthood. A long-time advocate of lay ecclesial ministry, Bishop Matthew Clark offers his vast theological knowledge and engaging stories from years of ministry to make this an informative and accessible read for anyone called to leadership in today's Catholic Church. Forward in Hope examines the ever-growing significance of lay ecclesial ministry and the way it is changing the face of the Church.


Anonymous said...

Bishop Clark's "famous last words" are on the same level of credibility as former City of Rochester, Mayor Bill Johnson.(The "Fast Ferry" mayor) Their leadership and integrity are being questioned now and for many years to come.

Two hundred and seventy thousand parishioners, (270,000) no longer attend weekly Mass in the Diocese of Rochester. Bishop Clark must be proud to have completed 30 years of destruction in our diocese. This is border-line criminal. Mental incompetence at it's best.

Boycott Bishop Clark's new book.

Ben Anderson said...

What's the definition of "lay ecclesial ministers" in the stats given? Does this include lectors, extraordinary ministers of holy communion, etc? I suspect it might which would be really misleading to compare it to the number of priests preparing for ordination.

RochChaCha said...

Someone should write (and I suppose I will also) to the WHAM 13reporter who did the story last night about the priest shortage in the DOR. The report gives no insight into why there is a shortage in the DOR and why it has turned to priests from other countries. They basically glossed over it as though it was just a strange phenomenon that after the 1priest is ordained this year, that there would be no more ordinations for the next 3-4 years. Shouldn’t the reporter have explored other reasons for the shortage? They could have stated that the consensus of many Catholics in Rochester is that the Bishop does not want to ordain any more priests in case any are too orthodox or that he prefers to prop up the role of the ‘pastoral associate’ which tends to be a woman whom he would not really mind seeing ordained one day as a priest.

Also, the other recent news story on WHAM 13 about allowing priests to marry, instead of the unclear and full of nothing response he gave, could he not have spoken the truth and stated that Catholic priests take the oath of celibacy so that they can live as Godly men and not Worldly men. Come on, anyone with a basic foundation in Catholic catechesis should be able to come up with that. You mean to tell me the Bishop has to sputter out stuff like ‘well, you see, I am not sure, you have to look at everything to see the big picture, and, it is sorta like, hard to decide, and I don’t want to offend my unorthodox Catholics’. God Bless us all and may God lead Bishop Matthew to a change heart on these issues.

Rich Leonardi said...

Boycott Bishop Clark's new book.Better yet, read it and post a review on Amazon for the benefit of those who don't live in the wasteland he created with his approach to "ministry."

Anonymous said...

I don't plan on paying for this book, but I will reluctantly flip through it if I were to find it in the library sometime soon.

~Dr. K

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up Mike. I'm looking forward to reading Bishop Clark's book. :)
I don't understand why some are critical of a book they haven't even read yet.

Anonymous said...

It's more being critical of the man writing on a topic which he is an expert on because of a problem he created (our priesthood shortage)

Mike said...


Anon. 7:10 beat me to the punch.

The need for increasing numbers of lay ecclesial ministers is ultimately a function of the declining number of priests.

The underlying question is therefore why fewer men are being called - or are responding to the call - to the priesthood.

Since there are some dioceses in this country in which this decline is far less extreme than in others, it makes sense to see what factors set these dioceses apart.

And it turns out that these dioceses are almost always led by thoroughly orthodox bishops, many of whom are actively involved in teaching their people the true fullness of the Catholic faith and who refuse to provide dissenters with any public platform under their control.

This is, of course, the exact antithesis of what we see in "progressive" dioceses such as DOR and it is in these dioceses that the priest shortage is most problematical and, consequently, the need for lay ecclesial ministers the greatest.

Do you think it's possible that the Holy Spirit is trying to show us something here?

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike, I must respectfully disagree with you. How do you know that the Holy Spirit isn't involved in calling all the hundreds of lay ecclesial ministers in the U.S.? Does the Risen Lord call just clergy to work in the vineyard? Didn't St. Paul and the Second Vatican Council teach that the laity through their baptism share in the function of Christ, priest, prophet and king? Both Pope Paul VI and The Catholic Cathecisim states: “The laity can also feel called, or in fact be
called, to cooperate with their pastors in the service of the ecclesial community,
for the sake of its growth and life. This can be done through the exercise of different
kinds of ministries according to the grace and charisms which the Lord has
been pleased to bestow on them.”

As the saying goes, the Holy Spirit blows as he/she wills. Who knows the REAL reason why some seminaries have more studying for the priesthood than others. Remember, 20 seminarians doesn't necessarily mean 20 Catholic priests. In the wake of the clergy abuse scandal, is it quantity we're after or quality? Last year when Pope Benedict came to the U.S., the press asked him to speak about the sex abuse scandal and he said that he was ashamed and it was better to have good priests - not many priests. I believe he his comment was aimed at all the Bishops in this Country who worried more about quantity (so they look good in Rome) than quality.

The push for lay eccleisal ministers is encouraged - not just by our Bishops, but the entire body of U.S. Bishops.

Mike said...


There is much that the laity can do in the Church and many of those things are, indeed, better done by lay men and women.

I'm old enough to remember when every parish had at least 3 priests and everything of consequence was taken care of by one of them. That clearly was not a good use of their spiritual gifts and it clearly ignored the time and talent of most of their parishioners. No one I know wants to see a return to those days.

My current parish has 2 active priests and a retired one who helps out on weekends, but there still is an awful lot for the laity to do (and we are doing it). I believe that is the way things should be and is what Vatican II intended.

We also need to remember that, while the laity can do a lot, there are some things beyond their competence. There are no Sacraments - especially the Eucharist - without ordained clergy. Yes, deacons can handle baptisms and weddings, but it takes a priest to say Mass, hear confessions and anoint the sick and this diocese along with many others is well on its way to not having enough to handle even those basic needs.

With regard to your quote about the laity being called "to cooperate with their pastors in the service of the ecclesial community," note that this assumes that there are pastors present with whom to cooperate. It says nothing about the laity actually running parishes with priests reduced to the status of human sacramental dispensers. I don't believe you will find that vision anywhere in Vatican II, but it is endemic in DOR and like dioceses.

Finally, I doubt that many bishops are overly concerned with Rome's opinion of them (I offer Matthew Clark as a case in point), so I don't believe any are going out of their way to attract unsuitable candidates into formation for this or any other reason.

And so the fact remains that more men are being attracted to the priesthood in "orthodox" dioceses than in "progressive" ones. That fact is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room that many, yourself included, are trying to either ignore or explain away, thus far with little success.

Anonymous said...

Tmac: "is it quantity we're after or quality?"

The Diocese of Rochester has neither quantity, nor quality.