Church authorities failing to nurture Faith

The parish I was born and reared into is situated between the towns of Athenry and Loughrea in Co. Galway, in the diocese of Clonfert. It is known as Kiltulla/Killimordaly. The parish priest lived in Kiltulla, and the curate in the other end which is where I lived.  Here he served the lovely little church in Killimordaly, along with another one in Clooncah. Killimordaly church has many memories for me. I was baptised there in January 1947, in the middle of a long period when the ground was covered with snow. I made my first communion there; I celebrated my first Mass there; my parents and my two sisters are buried in the cemetery at the back of the church. In many ways it is a special place for me. 

But now there is no Mass celebrated in that church anymore, except for the occasional funeral, if a priest can be found to preside at the Requiem Mass.   The only priest left in the parish is one elderly man, well into his eighties, who lives in the house beside the church in Kiltulla. Due to I’ll health, he is able to do little in the form of ministry anymore. He is a good man, who served the parish well for a large part of his life, and it is sad now to see him reduced to this. The present arrangement is that a priest will come from Loughrea to celebrate one weekend Mass in Kiltulla, with nothing in the other two churches. 

I know that what I describe is not unusual, and can be replicated in many parishes around the country. But this one is my home parish, and I know it. I know the people there. I grew up among them. I know their quality, and their sense of community. I could easily pick out half a dozen people, men and women, who would be well capable of presiding at the Eucharist every weekend in all three churches. They would do it with reverence and with faith, and they would gather the people around them, maybe not in the numbers as of old, but in considerable gatherings. It is regularly said by various theologians and church scholars that faith will not survive without community. I don’t know I would go as far as to fully agree with that, but there is undoubtedly substantial truth in it. But with the churches lying empty people will not gather, and the faith will certainly grow weak.

Why is all this happening? Quite simply because our Church authorities are still clinging to the outdated and no longer workable notion that only celibate men are fit and worthy to preside at the Mass. It is blindingly obvious, and has been for a fair few years, that this is no longer viable. Celibate priesthood is dying out rapidly in many parts of the world. And yet the Church clings rigidly to it, and seems unable to change.

In the meantime the faith dies. 

It is a disgrace for Church authorities to stand by and let this happen when a large part of a solution is still readily available, but they will not change an old, man-made rule that has long ago lost its meaning. They are actually killing the faith, the promotion of which is the complete raison d’etre of their existence as bishops, cardinals, popes.

I suspect that historians writing about the present Catholic Church will have very harsh things to say about the decision makers of our time, who worshipped the false gods of canon law and tradition, and deprived generations of the life giving message of the Gospel of Jesus. Maybe they will even quote the words of Jesus to the Pharisees, “blind guides”.