Bernard P. PrusakApril 16, 2007 - 1:43pm0 comments
Liturgical Press, $15.95, 128 pp.
The Struggle for Celibacy
The Culture of Catholic
Crossroad, $29.95, 280 pp.
Tested in Every Way
The Catholic Priesthood in Today’s Church
Crossroad, $16.95, 192 pp.
More than thirty-four years ago, in The Shape of the Church to Come, Karl Rahner issued a prescient warning concerning the future of the priesthood. “Plans for the future must be made at the opportune time,” Rahner wrote. “If for instance we know that in ten years’ time we shall be able to provide only half of the existing parishes with a priest on the spot, we must take incisive measures today.” Such measures might include opening the priesthood to men “who have proved themselves in their life, calling, and marriage.” If such men were ready to be ordained and to lead parishes, Rahner wrote, “their example could be beneficial for a time which is approaching when they will be absolutely necessary and when such a vocation will be completely taken for granted.” But such action could not wait. “[I]f it is attempted only after another ten or twenty years, there will be nobody who is prepared to take on the task.”
Today, what Rahner feared has come to pass. More and more parishes are being closed or consolidated into clusters; in many places, “Communion services” are supplanting the Eucharistic liturgy. But even as the ranks of priests dwindle, books on the priesthood, seminary formation, and celibacy are multiplying. Christopher Ruddy’s Tested in Every Way presents an unofficial summary of the main topics and concerns raised by the Seventh Annual Cardinal Bernardin Conference, “The Priest in the Church.” The...