Monday, 25 March 2019

Synod 2020. Liverpool. Number 11. Priestly concerns

Some thoughts that focus on what priests fear in the Synod process and in it's implementation afterwards.

I hear  from some sources that there is a concern expressed by a few lay members of the Synod that it will all be decided by the "men in black", ie by the clergy, without taking real notice of the lay input - or at least the some of the lay input. They feel the clergy will have all the power. 

For most of us ordinary clergy in parishes, this will come as something of a surprise because most of us often feel powerless:

the bishop might move us; 
the bishop might not move us; 
the diocesan structures control how we run our parishes; 
the laity won't assist in running the parish;
the laity are too bossy trying to run the parish;
there are ever increasing technical demands on our time - school inspections, building, electrical, asbestos, fire regulation inspections;
the bank account has 19 other signatories at the curial offices on it;
running more than one parish is exhausting;
doing funerals every week for mostly lapsed Catholics is taking up all my time;
depressed at the numbers attending;
what will happen in the future?

You get the idea. Most clergy in ordinary parishes do not, I think, feel terribly powerful.

Quite the reverse.

Questions I've heard being asked are:

What if I don't like the outcomes of the Synod and yet am asked to carry them out in structural or pastoral reorganisations in the diocese?

Will I end up looking after five parishes and be asked to stay on after the retirement age of 75?

If I really don't like the outcome, can I take some sort of early retirement? Would the diocese support me in that?

If the laity are to take over many of my roles, what am I for?

Will I end up at endless committee meetings?

Previously tried models such as "clustering" parishes, the other models, for example in Widnes, seem to instil an almost universal horror at the thought that these would be held up as out future.

A concern that the Church of England is being held up as some sort of model. After all it has lots of synods - for laity, clergy and bishops - all with voting interests. This would be disastrous - after all, if my Anglican friends will forgive me, the C of E is not exactly in the best of health.

There are also concerns expressed about how the data will be organised. No system of analysing this sort of information is completely without a bias. Some would like more information on this.

Recent Synods in Rome also seem to have gained a reputation for publishing conclusions other than what the delegates thought were the outcomes of their discussions.

For anyone who thinks the priests have all the power, here's what it sometimes feels like to us.

1 comment:

Jacob said...

Thanks for your posts on the Synod proceedings, Father. Much appreciated, and a reproach to my tired view of such assemblies as exercises in presenting predetermined conclusions as the vox populi. Priests like you will make it work.

Jim P