February 15, 2008

Malaise Poll

Earlier this week I went to a meeting of local clergy, and it was about the most depressing thing ever. This is what people talk about when they say that the morale of the clergy is low, and that there is an endemic spiritual malaise in the priesthood. One priest tried to bring it up, without getting very far. There was a palpable disinterest in addressing the pressing questions of shrinking parishes and schools, whole generations missing from church attendance, and populations that are ignored in our pastoral practice. Even something that is supposed to be exciting, the coming pastoral visit of Benedict XVI , was treated more or less like just another hassle.

Now I have my own ideas about diagnosing the spiritual malaise of the Catholic clergy and religious life. But I never know if they are just my own pet concerns. So what do you think is at fault in the alleged low morale of the clergy, or for their spiritual malaise?


Barb, sfo said...

I imagine that a lack of support from the laity, combined from the idea that "the Church is a democracy that can be controlled by popular vote" is a big contributing factor.

ben in denver said...

I think the devil responsible.

I don't think the crisis will be resolved until understood in terms of spiritual warfare. The devil wants the rpiesthood to be ineffective and will use every weapon at his disposal to make it happen.

Pia said...

This is a tough question. I think blaming it on the devil and the laity is the easy way out. I believe priests need the laity, although it is difficult to imagine the Church as a democracy. Also, on the Church's side, blaming everything on the media is the easy way out. And the politicization of the church is also a big problem (I don't mean the Church's indications on moral issues, but rather mean, low down politics. Here in Italy, the Church and State are not separate and most people are tired of it.
I as a member of the church am confused by the mixed signals I am getting. Was the 2nd vatican council a mistake? That is what I am reading a lot of lately (even in an interview of the then Card. Ratzinger dating back almost 20 years ago). That confuses me very much.

Evelyn said...

I guess I wonder how many priests are really embraced as family by their parishioners. Do they really feel our affection, beyond just our respect? It's not easy, because some of them are bigger than life, and we don't always know what is appropriate. I'm sure it must be a lonely place for many of them.

lake said...

Perhaps it is because we live in a world saturated with impossible demands. With good intention, we try to meet the world's demands without giving sufficient time and space to the demands of gospel brother-sisterhood. I am often discouraged by never ending "to do" list. Yet the gospel calls us into a way of being and relating. Maybe the malaise is because we tend to work in isolation w/o seeing the seeing the benefit of mutual support and relationship.