A grizzled old socialist taught the History of Communism course where I went to college. I vividly remember two things he told us. The first was “If you are not a socialist when you are young you have no heart, but if you are a socialist when you are old, you have no head.” Presumably his own socialist ardor had cooled somewhat since his college days.
The second memorable thing he told us was “The greatest threat to society is neither capitalism nor socialism nor communism. The greatest threat to society is somnambulism.” He claimed that no less than Chairman Mao had uttered those words, although I’ve never been able to verify it. But it sounds like something an ardent communist would say. In fact, it sounds like something an ardent Catholic would say. In fact, let me say it: our social decline over the last sixty years is due to the fact that most of us have been sleepwalking.
I mean, we have become fat, lazy, and passive. Since FDR began expanding the federal government in the 1930s, most Americans have become more or less wards of the state. Local governments followed the federal government’s expansion, and now an impenetrable bureaucracy suffocates almost every aspect of our lives. If I want to paint stripes on my parking lot, or cut a branch off a tree, or hire a part-time assistant, or buy a pack of gum: some level of government has a say in that. We’ve got to get permission for everything we do, and that generally suffocates individual initiative.
The Church herself (at least in her human dimension) has mimicked the federal government. Despite Pope Francis’ claims to “decentralize” the Church, the Vatican has ramped up control to unprecedented levels (enabled by current technologies). A priest friend who works in the Vatican tells me how everyone is on edge in Rome these days, afraid of saying or doing something that will “make Francis upset.” The Vatican wants to know everything everyone is doing and thinking at all times. Local church offices are not far behind. Budgets swell as diocesan chanceries hire more and more employees to exercise more and more administrative control of parishes, schools, and every aspect of Church life.
The general effect of centralization and government control is … somnambulism. In the Church, the greatest problem with clergy is not infidelity or criminal behavior. The problem is passivity. Most clergy have little initiative or apostolic zeal. Precisely when the Church is under increasing attack, priests and bishops are doing almost nothing to defend her. Most Church leaders have contented themselves with managed decline; most priests spend most of their time in their rooms, and most bishops spend most of their time in meetings. Pope Francis has ordered every diocese and every parish and every Catholic to spend the next two years in meetings about how to have meetings (the unfortunate “Synod on synodality,” or “Meeting on meetings”). As with the ordinary American Joe, who has been trained over the last fifty years to eat, watch TV, and let the government do the thinking for him, so Catholic clergy have largely given up on evangelizing the culture. Most clergy watch the same soft-porn shows every night that most Americans watch, and many clergy are addicted to the same hard-porn to which many Americans are addicted.
The above comes from a Sept. 22 posting on Father Illo’s Blog. Father Illo is the pastor of Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco.
Well, what is expected when most priests spend 20+ years in school, then get ordained, never having had a real job, been in the military, or lived very manly lives. They are mommy’s boys who can’t stand up because they never had to.
Stop idealizing these guys, with exception. Clericalism that some guy is a holy spiritual warrior just because he wears the suit, is nonsense.
I don’t think this priest spends any time at all “in his room!” That’s ridiculous! I think he, and most other priests, are busy, night and day, on-the-job, working tirelessly! No time to themselves! Calendars always full! When could Father work into his busy schedule, an appointment to see you, about your wedding, or your child’s baptism? When could he see a very anxious parishioner, in need of Confession or counseling? Next week? Next month? Ooops– Father’s secretary called, he has to change your appointment! Father got called away, to the hospital or to someone’s home, on a sick call. Or there was an accident, and he had to go see the family, and give Last Rites to their loved one, and arrange the funeral. Or a priest got sick, so he has to change the Mass schedule– and take that priest’s scheduled Mass. Good priests are always busy! Have the times now suddenly changed completely, with “no work for priests?” What on earth happened??
Meetings and avoidance, anything except proclamation of the gospel. Fr. Illo has a good point.
We are not wards of the state. That is so massively insulting.
Even if you are getting your retirement benefits or disability benefits or unemployment benefits, you are not a ward of the state.
I have had two relatives who had to made wards of the state. It is not a bad thing. It is a way to protect families from violence and financial ruin
Most people give a whole lot of their paycheck to the state.
Get out of your room, get off the porn and go see what life is like in the real world.
Some priests probably work harder because others “slack off”.
I was very impressed by Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J. years ago when he said he had no idea what Barrak Obama, who was running for president at that time, looked like as he never watched television. It impressed me that he was a doer not a “couch potato”.
With condescending posts like his, be any wonder Father Illo is so disliked by his fellow clerics.
May the Church be given LEGIONS of Father Illos.
Why is everybody ignoring the part about the porn?
Perhaps because most of us don’t do porn. I am hoping that is the case.
The turnaround in Fr. Illo’s parish (see the thread on eucharistic adoration) took faith and hard work and Father Illo’s criticism of priests may simply be of their failure to follow suit to get their parishes going strong. . If I am even partially correct, then it would be no surprise some fellow priests would take umbrage at words depicting them in a less than favorable light. Fr. Illo has shown them a way to restoration which apparently has not been eagerly received by some fellow priests. So YFC, what is the point of this apparent sniping at Fr. Illo?
The point Dan was pretty clear.
Most people who go to Mass aren’t wards of the state, they work hard, often two jobs to pay rent, put kids through elite schools, hopefully save for illness ir retirement. Calling them wards if the state is equivalent to Leona Helmsley’s “welfare queens” comment. Out of touch, insulting, and supports the upper echelons of society at the expense of the average worker. Then he attacks his fellow priests as lazy and porn addicted. Whatever success he has or has not achieved gives him no right to throw insults around like this.
“With condescending posts like his …”
I guess it takes one to know one, eh YFC ???
Hey mellow, love the name! My fellow clerics love me just fine.
Wait…did you become a deacon?
I don’t think such comments should be nade public, by a priest. It causes a loss of faith, and a loss of respect for Catholic priests. Nobody will come to church anymore. These comments are probably directed to wayward clergy (priests, bishops) — and are basically untrue. How about some of the awful, post-Conciliar Jesuit priests, and their immoral, heretical schools? But not all Jesuits are immoral and heretical. Some are very faithful and orthodox! Better to take clerics as individuals– consider leading clerics like Cupich, McElroy, Mahony, Gomez, Barron, Barber, Daly, Strickland, Cordileone– all are unique, and some are outstanding, while others are terrible– as in any profession.
I know what Fr. Illo means about meetings. I was once on a liturgy committee and in a Ladies Club, but all that sitting around at the meetings got to me. I would go to the meetings to get away from the food at home, but people would take turns bringing food to the meetings, which was the last thing I, and most of them, needed. I gave up the meetings, did other things for the church, and went out walking in parks saying my Rosary, which was far more productive and healthier. As far as I am concerned, attendance at meetings should be rare and over quickly.
Why are priests in SF sitting in their rooms when there is such a problem with homelessness and drug us in the city?
Why are they watching porn at all?
Why don’t they get out there and help?
Why don’t they make phone calls to fallen away Catholics?
Why don’t they visit the sick?
why – because these things probably aren’t true.
I kind of assumed that he was speaking for himself. I kind of assumed the soft porn he thinks all of America is watching is GOT. I do not watch it but my spouse turned on the TV when someone had left it on HBO once and got an eyeful.
And porn is not an addiction although it does hijack your brain. It is a choice. There are Catholic ministries to support people trying to break that bad habit.
He is saying that priests are slothful. And we all battle with that.
YFC, have you noticed how there are not many priests that talk about chastity? It is mostly lay people.
If gay people and unmarried people are supposed to be chaste, why aren’t they giving helpful hints on how to achieve that?
Watch sports, call your mother, pray the rosary.
In my day, we were taught to take a cold shower or go take a walk around the block.
One of the best things that I ever learned was that emotions last 90 seconds if you do not do anything to keep them going.
Same with passions.
When asked about celibacy, some priests will actually say “the vow of celibacy is only to not get married.” which is true.
It makes you wonder.
“Despite Pope Francis’ claims to ‘decentralize’ the Church, the Vatican has ramped up control to unprecedented levels.”
That is an important (and true) point.
They are criticized for the listening synod prep.
They have always been criticized for being too controlling.
What do you want?
What do want control over?