I have to confess that as soon as I come across an article with a title like "Boston's Pastoral Planning Advisory Board Presents Findings to Priests", I immediately say to myself "this is going to be a doozy". And it never fails to disappoint.
Consisting of seven laypeople and one priest, the PPAB was founded in 2014 to evaluate the implementation of Disciples in Mission.SEVEN lay people and ONE priest. Are ya kidding me??? Why not seven deacons and one priest?
Disciples in Mission is the archdiocesan revitalization/evangelization program while closing and merging parishes. A tough job under any circumstances. Still, I remain perplexed by the things Archdiocesan leaders think, do and say.
The Disciples in Mission program would be successful if priests saw conversions, increased numbers in the Sacrament of Confession, Christ in the Eucharist with an understanding of what it's all about. How is it possible they thought its leadership should be seven lay people and one priest?
The article goes on to describe the feedback from priests across the diocese:
- About half said since becoming a pastor of a collaborative, there has been less time to pray and connect with parishioners
- About 90 percent said that in multi-cultural parishes, it has become more difficult to retain relationships with parishioners.
- A little over half of the pastors said Disciples in Mission has had a negative impact on their physical and mental health, and they have experienced more stress, anxiety, and less free time.
- Over half of the pastors said it is now harder to maintain personal relationships with friends and family, and most pastors said their relationships with parishioners have suffered. However, they noted that relationships with staff are strong.
- Many pastors also listed financial restraints, as well as time restraints, as having a large impact.
Other than that Mrs. Kennedy, how was the parade?
Here comes my favorite part of the article: The feedback from Archdiocesan officials.
John Straub, chief financial officer (CFO) and chancellor of the archdiocese, noted that Disciples in Mission has been successful.
After an initial financial drop-off, he said, parishes in collaboratives have seen, on average, a two percent gain in collections.
The program's success is measured on the money, the money, the money. If the priests have no relationships with the people, there is no knowledge or interactions between them and the priests are curled up into a ball from exhaustion and stress, this is not a benchmark that tells you how the program is going.
And, after the Cardinal listened to priests tell him how they feel, he said he's got some thinking to do:
Responding to concerns over personal health, Cardinal O'Malley pointed to a recent study by the archdiocese's Clergy Funds, which indicated that overall, priests are healthier, in part thanks to a number of new mental and physical health programs the archdiocese provides.It's the age-old question that bewilders luminaries who work in a chancery:
The study "seems to show our health seems to be a little better, actually," (WUT???!!) the cardinal said, although he made it clear that he also would be taking the feedback into consideration. (Ya think?)
Is it the people you've convened to produce a 'study' that tells you what you want to hear or the priests actual descriptions of what's happening to them when their feet hit the floor - which one elucidates factual information?
Another unsolved mystery in a Chancery.
More importantly, why wouldn't it occur to them that their job is to provide solid spiritual health programs for priests who are out to steam? They are not an extension of the local gym or mental health clinic.
I have to admit that the dishonesty is getting to me, especially when it comes from within. Sometimes I spend way too much time going back and forth with people who are unwilling or incapable of unraveling the dishonesty. Sometimes, I do it to back the dishonesty into the corner until all observers, excepting the advocate, see it is absurd, but how low the advocate is willing to sink into dishonesty and chicanery is exasperating. I'm not out of steam, but the older I get, the less I want to spend my time and energy subjecting myself to it.
Fr. Rutler describes the dishonesty in his weekly column this week as Orwellian insanity. He also reminds us of the service and duty to Christ. I'm doing the best I can but, admittedly, some days and some situations, I just don't have the bandwidth!
Father Rutler's Weekly Column
Sunday, December 10th, 2017
As a chaplain in a state mental hospital, I quickly learned two things. First, sometimes it was easy to mistake a psychiatrist for one of the patients. Second, and more importantly, the mentally ill can be highly intelligent. If one begins with an illogical premise, one may convincingly make a fallacy seem cogent. An unfortunate man in a locked ward who thinks he is Napoleon Bonaparte can almost convince a visitor that he is there because he lost the battle of Waterloo.
Insanity is not a lack of brains; it is a lack of judgment. The Second Sunday of Advent focuses on the right use of reason, in preparation for the coming of Christ the Logos, the source of all creation. He is the Righteous Judge because he is supremely logical, and it would be a form of madness not to expect the Logos to be so.
Our society has employed cleverness to justify moral madness, rationalizing a radical overhaul of social order as “hope and change.” George Orwell anticipated this in his “doublethink” which means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously and accepting both of them, so that, for instance, ignorance is strength, war is peace, freedom is slavery. Currently there are those who call censored speech “freedom of speech” and redistribution of wealth “income equality,” and who varnish anarchy as “resistance.” Infanticide is responsible parenthood, infidelity is independence, decadence is progress, common sense is bias, and natural law is hate speech. When the modern moral collapse euphemized as “sexual liberation” redefined vice as freedom, defective judgment unleashed a host of contradictions, so that the very institutions that promoted libertinism affect to be scandalized when celebrities are revealed to have done precisely what the euphemizers wanted. Like Casablanca’s Captain Renault they are “Shocked! Shocked!”
“Doublethinkers” cannot cope with the consequences of their manipulation of logic. Immature students riot when a professor disagrees with them, and voters scream at the sky when an election does not go their way. Their intolerance calls itself tolerance, but it is the false kind of tolerance which, as Chesterton said, is the virtue of the man without convictions.
The same people who ask “Who am I to judge?” judge right judgment to be tactlessly judgmental, and they politicize the judiciary to appoint justices who will usurp the function of legislators. Certainly, our Lord forbids any attempt to judge the human heart or the fate of a soul (Matthew 7:2), but blurring the line between right and wrong, which the theologians call antinomianism, turns an entire culture into a raucous asylum.
“If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand” (Ezekiel 3:18).