JPII priests, secularism & more


Fr. Damian Ference’s article on the challenges of priesthood today (“Why We’re Different,” May 23) is refreshingly free of talk of generation wars, and I am greatly heartened by his upbeat approach to priestly ministry. It is also good to read his recognition of the importance of lay collaboration, though it is a little difficult to reconcile with his wariness of “the spirit of Vatican II.”

But I am frankly alarmed by his statement that “young men are actually drawn to the challenge and sacrifice of the priesthood-to the fact that they may be persecuted, or at least despised, because of their vocation.” Does he not understand that the element of sacrifice and the chance of persecution in today’s priesthood are primarily connected to the celibate way of life-something entirely accidental to priestly ordination itself? Of course, any response to a calling of any kind in the church will involve some sacrificial elements. Lay ministers surely know that some of that sacrifice is shared by their spouse and family. Absent mandatory celibacy, a priest is not laying down a life in the service of God and the church any more than any other committed Christian. The priest is responding to the particular call of God, to a ministry of immense importance to the community of faith. Celibacy aside, there is...

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