Monday, February 04, 2008

Contrasting views of the postconciliar Church

Here are two contrasting views of the situation in the Church since the Second Vatican Council. The first, "The Other Health Crisis: Why Priests Are Coping Poorly," is Paul Stanosz, a priest of the Archdioces of Milwaukee. The other, "The Cautionary End of the Spirit of Vatican II," is by Jeff Mirus of Trinity Communications. I think Fr. Stanosz is right inasmuch as he is advocating that priests avoid what might be called a Messiah complex. I've seen enough self-appointed anointed priest fall to fear the overly driven, but spiritually undergrounded, ministry in a world full of deceit and temptations. On the other hand, I think Mirus' observation about the seeming hopelessness of Fr. Stanosz's position is very important. A Church minister really has to engage in the faithful and enthusiastic presentation of the Gospel in season or out of season, no matter what the cost no matter what apparent failure one experiences. This can only be possible in a person who has a deep and rich spiritual life. As Ven. Leo John Dehon, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, taught, a priest must pursue sanctity, study and service in that order. And by "study," he meant an orthodox intellectual exploration of the dogmas of the Church.

I do not accept any fundamental dichotomy between a John XXIII priest, a Paul VI priest, a John Paul II priest or a Benedict XVI priest--or a Pius XII priest, for that matter. The same goes for lay people. My interpretation of the Council is always in light of the magisterium of the popes that oversaw its implementation--Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI--so far.