Vince Exley is another much-loved member of this community who has been with us since the very earliest days of the CathNews discussion community. The lucky bugger lives in one of Australia's paradise locations, the Whitsunday Islands in tropical Queensland. He's a really contented bachelor and described his life to me a few years ago in these terms: "I feel God has really blessed me in leading me to retirement in this beautiful area. I lead a very fulfilling life of twice daily Christian meditation, a very fulfilling Sunday Eucharist, pleasant daily walks along the beach, Vinnie's activities, relaxation in the resort's Spas and Pools and an afternoon scotch or two on my balcony (where the parakeets actually try to drink my scotch)." Vince waxes and wanes between his conservatism and his radicalism. A few years ago, under the influence of another poster, Maggie a fabulous contributor to our discussions but very conservative theology student from Notre Dame, Indiana, we thought the poor guy was just about to fall off the edge of the conservative edge of the spectrum. In this thought-provoking article he submitted yesterday Vince is back at his challengingly radical best. What do you think of his...
SUGGESTIONS FOR OUR FUTURE CHURCH
by Vince Exley
At 75 years of age I believe, and hope, I will never have to witness my local church being priest less. If this were to happen I believe the local church would, at least temporarily if not permanently, collapse, because Sunday Eucharist is an absolute essential for the life of the church along with, in my opinion, much neglected adult faith education.
Replacing Sunday Mass with a 'service without a priest' is almost worse than nothing and in my opinion should be opposed by everyone.
As I watch the bishops of the ICEL argue over translations of the Latin Mass into English ("The Lord be with you/And also with you" now to read "And with your spirit" for example, with the related cost in millions of dollars for new books, missals etc.) I feel I am watching Rome burn while the pope plays his fiddle.
Every one is well aware that over the past 40 years church attendance everywhere has fallen dramatically; and the call to religious orders and the priesthood is now a mere trickle. The ratio of priests to laity is declining dramatically everywhere. In Africa, where there is an increase in the number of seminarians, this ratio is still declining because of the increasing numbers of people entering the church. I also note that Pope Benedict XVI warned the African bishops on their recent ad-limina visit that they were to be careful to screen out the many who were coming to the seminaries only because it afforded them an education and better lifestyle than they would enjoy otherwise.
So the worldwide outlook is disastrous and the Church is in deep crisis.
I want to put forward the following suggestions, many of which you have all heard before.
In our diocese, which has not sent anyone to the seminary for over twenty years, we get by with the use of overseas missionary priests. But there are many less developed areas in the world where these priests could be of much greater use
There is nothing to prevent these changes being implemented.
Something along the above lines would fill my emotional needs. I wonder what others think of the idea.
What are your thoughts on this commentary?