In the last post addressing the threat of modernism in the life of the church I reflected on the episcopacy asking how it might be reformed to give us bishops better equipped to lead the church in holiness. In this second post I want to reflect on the priesthood.
In the early days of the church clergy were known for heroic bravery. We might think of St. Dominic- called the ‘hammer of heretics’ -or St. Nicholas who used his fists to silence Arias whose flawed rhetoric had no place in Christian debate. Before you chastise his use of violence note how he was rewarded by a visit from Our Lady. We might think of many strong men of God who helped forge the life of the church including those who laid down their lives -especially here in England when, following the reformation, to return to these shores a cleric was to invite a death sentence.
How sad that heroic courage and strong leadership are rarely associated with priests today. Many of whom chase comfort and popularity in this life not the next; never rocking the boat, never challenging heresy, never speaking out for Christ where it rubs against consensus, never doing anything to offend when challenge is sorely needed. They are akin to overly-lax parents who ruin children by seeking to be friends instead of taking responsibility for their formation. Under their watch holy zeal ebbs away and parishes are surrendered to ideologues within the laity; the unaccountable rulers who soon censor pulpits, control liturgy, bully priests and ensure cultural marxism dominates as it does. Christianity-lite is the fruit of wet leadership; the celebration of community at cost to supernatural worship of God. The faith cherry picked to promote the zeitgeist.
A tragedy so common now that the very archetype of the priest has been turned on its head. Ss. Dominic and Nicholas and the martyrs are all but forgotten. Instead the media lampoon our clergy with depictions of bucked toothed wets and good hearted effeminate drips. It is hard to argue when so few speak out with boldness or take up a cross to follow Christ. The result is a culture of wetness endorsed from on high. A church in which poor liturgical standards and shoddy preaching are ever tolerated and prevalent but in which rocking the boat in defence of the faith soon lands you in trouble.
If this does not seem concerning consider how the loss of masculinity, zeal and strength from within the priesthood, seen in a culture of compliant and non challenging clergy, enabled the abuse abuse crisis. Space was given to the devil once clergy were emasculated and asleep on their watch. I assure you my rugby club, which is a zealous and masculine environment, would have taken any filthy pervert who molests young children and thrown them physically out with deeply blackened eyes. If lucky. But within the clergy, where one finds a hugely disproportionate number of homosexual men, a different culture arose. One in which people looked the other way, refused to act, and failed to confront evil at cost to children.
Of course not all homosexuals are abusers. Nor does being homosexual bar you from being a fabulous priest, and those faithful to priestly vows are often a credit to the church. Nor is child abuse homosexual in nature, far from it, most abuse occurs in the home. Yet within the church it was with most every case coming out of the gay sub-culture I have mentioned in which a minority of priests were anything but chaste and faithful to their vows. And the point is that nobody was man enough to stop them- again because this same effeminate non-masculine culture tends to affect the whole.
To reform the priesthood then, and better equip it against modernism, the clerical culture must change. The archetype needs reverting to former glory. We need more hammers of heretics and courageous young men to act as fathers of their flocks by confronting corruption and evil and living by grace and zeal. We need to empower not emasculate priests by encouraging them to be brave and rewarding them for speaking out for the faith. In contrast to modern practice of promoting safe hands and moving the outspoken to flounder on the margins.
And, as controversial and countercultural as it might be within a world undergoing rainbow revolution, we must quash the worst aspects of the homosexual sub-culture that currently exists within the clergy. For it is a cancer in the body of Christ. Not because it is homosexual but because it exists in contradiction to priestly vows of celibacy, chastity, virtue and godliness. The same would be true were the subculture heterosexual. What we need are holy men of God. We need better priests. Men of virtue not of vice. And men strong enough to resist evil and confront heresy not to look the other way.