Writing in the pages of the Catholic Register this week, Fr. Raymond J. de Souza makes a very interesting observation and commentary on one of the reflections of the Pope in the new book “Light of the World.”
Speaking of the governing institutions in the Church, Pope Benedict said “The bureaucracy is spent and tired … It is sad that there are what you might call professional Catholics who make a living on their Catholicism, but in whom the spring of faith flows only faintly, in a few scattered drops.”
Commenting on the Pope’s remark, Fr. de Souza observes:
It is easy enough to point to the managerial bishop or the administrative pastor and lament the lack of fervour for the faith and the absence of evangelical criteria in decision-making. But could not the same be said of any diocesan office in Canada, the staff room of any Catholic school, the executive officers of any Catholic social welfare agency or the bureaucrats that administer the vast panoply of Catholic organizations? Is it not the case that so many regard their position as membership in a club or as an officer of an enterprise, but not primarily as disciples or missionaries? The great sadness of which the Holy Father speaks is that over several generations now so many lay Catholics — “professional Catholics” — are marked by a deep adopted clericalism themselves, comporting themselves as members of a privileged caste.
Wow. It reminds me of a quote a friend on the inside once told me while reflecting on the fact that many vibrant, young, and faithful Catholics who would love to offer their all to the Church are left to find work in the secular world. “Why are all the professional jobs in the Church held by dissidents?”
To be sure there are signs of hope. Many dioceses in North America have begun to employ fervent and authentic Catholics. However the old guard remains firmly entrenched in many many places.
Fr. de Souza concludes: “The challenge of moving from a bureaucratic, managerial Church to an evangelical, missionary one is at the heart of Benedict’s message in Light of the World.