During his visit to Brazil , Francis, the Bishop of Rome, addressed 300 Brazilian bishops who joined him for lunch in the Rio archbishop’s residence and “delivered an unusually candid rebuke to the Catholic Church in Brazil , accusing it of being stuffy and inward-looking and failing to respond to the concerns of ordinary people.” He is concerned because “Brazilians have been deserting the Catholic Church in droves, either embracing secularism or joining the burgeoning number of Pentecostal churches that have popped up all over the country, particularly in the favelas or slums around big cities.” This is happening in India . In the mind-nineties the bishops commission as study which revealed. It draws our attention to “a widely shared perception that the clergy of the mainline churches are responsible in several ways for the exodus of the believers to the neo-pentecostal sects. This is particularly true of the Catholic clergy.” Let us compare the Catholic Church in India with the Neo-Pentecostals sects.
The Catholics seem to have so much, while the Pentecostals appear to have so little. Yet they are attracting the Catholics! Why? Francis told the Brazilian bishops that “many Catholics were ‘disillusioned’ by a Church that they regarded as ‘barren, fruitless soil’.” As we prepare to celebrate the feast of the patron of pastoral clergy, could we reflect on this problem, and see what pastoral action we, as a community, need to adopt. This may be the best way to honour that saint.
Pray also for your priests and bishops. Yes, we need a lot of prayer. If people are leaving the Church to join some sects, the priests and bishops are primarily responsible for this exodus. Preaching at the priestly ordination of the deacons of the diocese of Rome on 7 May 2006, Benedict XVI cautioned the candidates: “‘To climb’ ‒ here too we can also see the image of careerism, the attempt to ‘get ahead’, to gain a position through the Church: to make use of and not to serve. It is the image of a man who wants to make himself important, to become a person of note through the priesthood; the image of someone who has as his aim his own exaltation and not the humble service of Jesus Christ.” Something seems to be terribly wrong with our priorities. Are our priests and bishops victims of careerism? It is time that they sit back quietly and do some honest soul-searching, and enter into an open dialogue with people who can help them. All of us, but especially our priests and bishops need a deep conversion. Let us ask the Lord to give them a better understanding of their vocation, and greater generosity in the service of his people.
St. Paul’s School