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The Year for Priests?

 |  NCR Today

I noticed that Pope Benedict now blames the “Devil” for besmirching the “Year for Priests” with a renewed global explosion in sex abuse cases and accusations. I can only scratch my head and wonder where all this comes from. It reminds me of Rep. Tom Cole, R-OK, and Governor Rick Perry, R-TX, who called the Gulf oil spill an “act of God.”

Talk about shifting the blame!

In both cases, these tragedies are the acts of human beings, human beings who seek some form of self-gratification, or who don’t care about other human beings. It’s usually called “sin.”

But the “Year for Priests” might have been worthwhile had it been used to explore deeper questions about priesthood in the midst of church community. Granted, many priests, perhaps most, are good and even holy men, but they are part of a larger structure that cannot survive as it is in the 21st century.

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Questions that should have been asked at the highest levels include: Why the severe priest shortage? How does priestly ministry mesh with adult worshipping communities today? Is mandatory celibacy any kind of asset in the 21st century? And where are the women? Would the women even want to come, given the current state of the institution?

So I look at the proclaimed “Year for Priests,” now ending. And I wonder. What did it accomplish? Or worse yet: Did the average Catholic even notice?

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