2012-01-19 14:58:45

Priests knocked off their pedestals ?...

"When the Bishops of the world gathered in Rome for the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, they issued a document which encouraged everyone to be holy: not all in the same way , but in ways which were appropriate for our lifestyles", says Monsignor Peter Fleetwood in another of his reflections for the series 'Why Bother? Staying Catholic despite it All'.

In this reflection Monsignor Peter goes on to remark how people often proclaim triumphantly that priests have been knocked off their pedestals. Adding how from his experience of trying to become a good priest they often perch there precariously because they are put there by other people .

"I am sure", he then says, " that it has always suited people , from the most primitive tribes to the most complex civilisations, to be able to shift the burden of relationships with the gods on to a few professional "holy people". It is like having a guard dog, if you feed him regularly , he will bark at the appropriate moments and protect you , and stay in his kennel at other times....in times of national grief or disasters, the clergy are very welcome , but they are hardly noticed at other times. If a priest or a nun appears in a doctor's surgery or in a bar, or worst of all, in the close confines of a lift , people become very uncomfortable. "

Monsignor Peter then concludes this reflection by explaining how in a society which treated priests like this he was shocked into reality by the words of a Jesuit priest who came to give a retreat at his school and told him something he has thought about ever since : "You know boys , my job as a priest is to become obsolete: I have to live in such a way that other people want to love God". Commenting how this is probably the most powerful reason he has ever had for becoming a priest : not to do things for people, but to enable them to change by his example...

A programme produced by Veronica Scarisbrick

Listen: RealAudioMP3

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