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RE: Pastor problems
Question from Lori on 11/8/2012:

Ms. Arnold's response would seem to be that the pastor's behavior resulting in the loss of parishioners should be tolerated and excused for whatever reasons the bishops might have had, and he should be prayed for in the hopes he might have a change of heart. This seems very irresponsible.

The pastor is supposed to be the leader of the people in this community and to imply that the people who are driven to leave the Church and forgo their faith are the ones solely responsible for their own defection seems to be misguided. Seems the people who gave up their Catholic faith for Prostestantism were not helped in the strengthening of their faith during the 13 years of his pastorate.

Answer by Catholic Answers on 11/8/2012:

Lori--

Ms. Arnold's response would seem to be that the pastor's behavior resulting in the loss of parishioners should be tolerated and excused for whatever reasons the bishops might have had, and he should be prayed for in the hopes he might have a change of heart. This seems very irresponsible.

Do you have a constructive alternative suggestion to offer? By the inquirer's report, the parishioners of this parish have already approached two successive bishops. Not only have both bishops declined to intervene, but the current bishop "reassigned [the pastor] another six years after already serving the usual limit of two six-year terms." If the local ordinary declines to intervene, it is very unlikely that anyone higher up on the ecclesial food chain is going to swoop down and overturn the bishop's decision -- especially when there has been no actual abuse and evidently no proof of other illegal activity. It was in the light of that reality that I suggested prayer and working constructively with the pastor insofar as possible.

The pastor is supposed to be the leader of the people in this community and to imply that the people who are driven to leave the Church and forgo their faith are the ones solely responsible for their own defection seems to be misguided. Seems the people who gave up their Catholic faith for Prostestantism were not helped in the strengthening of their faith during the 13 years of his pastorate.

Speaking of irresponsibility, this suggests that adult Catholics should not be considered responsible for their own faith life. That because a priest hasn't been especially nice or understanding of their needs, then they cannot be faulted for walking away, some abandoning the Church altogether, rather than take strength from the sacrament of confirmation to stand firm as adult Catholics empowered by their confirmation to be soldiers of Christ. Lay Catholic apologist Frank Sheed once said:

We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. Christ is the point. I, myself, admire the present pope, but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if his successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I find the Church, as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing that a pope (or a priest) could do or say would make me wish to leave the Church, although I might well wish that they would leave.

In a world in which Catholics in non-Christian countries are being martyred for their faith, murdered in their churches by terrorists (example, example), there cannot be a whole lot of sympathy spared for Catholics who leave their faith for what mainly amounts to annoyances, inconveniences, and hurt feelings. I recommend the article linked below as a more in-depth explanation of the imperative that a Catholic should never allow anyone, priest or otherwise, to disturb his spiritual peace.

Recommended reading:

Problems in the Church by Jimmy Akin

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers


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