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Sunday, May 9, 2004

Letters: The changing church


Praying hands tell the answer

The picture on the front of the Forum section May 2 was worth all the words printed on it about the Catholic Church. Those beautiful old, time-worn hands holding a rosary were the answer to all this speculation about the church. Not once was prayer even mentioned in any of the comments.

We are filled with hopefulness and enthusiasm for the future of the church. God will take care of, and is taking care of, his church. We are encouraged by the growing numbers of men studying for the priesthood in many orders about the United States and the growing numbers of sisters entering the convent.

We are encouraged by the youth of the church who have attended the Youth 2000 Retreats right here in Cincinnati, and the World Youth Days in Toronto, Denver and next in Germany. We see our Rosary Making Ministry sending thousands of rosaries to the missions in Africa.

We are blessed with Pope John Paul II, and his holiness, as an example. He has given us many new saints to hold up as examples of faithful Catholics. Many churches are holding Eucharistic Adoration weekly in their parishes.

The Holy Spirit is guiding the church, and separating the wheat from the chaff. So now, please "Let us pray."

Lou and Jane Thole, Sycamore Township

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Return to orthodoxy has helped elsewhere

The Enquirer's special report "The Changing Church" thoroughly documents the priest shortage that bedevils the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Yet in places like Bishop Fabian Bruskiewitz's Lincoln, Neb., and Archbishop Charles Chaput's Denver, priestly vocations are booming and seminaries are full.

What's different about those dioceses and others like them? Their reputation for orthodoxy. Time and again, fidelity to the teachings of the church is shown to drive vocations.

So instead of throwing in the towel with campaigns like "preparing for a future with fewer priests," the archdiocese might try a more visible embrace of Catholic truth.

Rich Leonardi, Hyde Park

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More boys, men need to heed God calling

God constantly calls boys and men to the priesthood, but they do not hear him. If we, as lay people, fail to nurture holy families, we will surely fail to effectively assume priestly duties.

Anita Pappalardo, Loveland

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Church's lay people must step up now

In response to the special report "Keeping the faith" (May 2) on the changing Catholic Church: Despite the growing shortage of priests, this is truly a blessed time for Catholics. Savio Russo, who is an ex-priest, could not have said it better. The church is the people, and the lay people must take a more active role in the ministry of the church. Priests are only there to lead the worship, but the ministry work must be done by its members.

As an ordained shepherd for an interdenominational campus ministry and having been raised a Catholic, I have discovered that Catholics depend too much on priests and not enough on the lay members. The mission of Jesus is universal. We are all called to be priests and ministers of the gospel in our everyday lives, both in word and deed. Ministry is hard work. Just sitting in the pew and leaving the work to the priest is probably one of the reasons why there is a priest shortage. Jesus shared his life with his disciples so they could take over when he went to the father.

Each parish should have lay leaders who can step in and even give the readings and homilies. Holy Name Catholic Church is a good example. Helen Lester-Smith said it best: "Catholics can't let priests do all the work anymore." All church denominations must work together and learn from one another. We must all pray for God to raise up good spiritual leaders. This involves everyone, not just priests. We are in a time of change; this is the message of the gospel.

Andrew Martin, Fairview Heights

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Vatican II led to many problems

The articles in the May 2 "Changing church" package demonstrate the many bad fruits and consequences of the Second Vatican Council. Your writers describe much of the crisis in the Catholic Church today, but the solutions offered by the innovators will only wreak more destruction. It is proven that those who embraced the revolutionary novelties of the Second Vatican Council are constantly in search of more novelty.

As Bishop Fulton J. Sheen stated, "Our future is in our past." All must return to the traditional Mass and sacraments of our ancestors. Only then will the graces flow again, and the seminaries will be replenished, ensuring many holy priests. With the help of the blessed Virgin Mary and the penances and fervent prayers of the faithful, our Catholic churches will be restored once again to their former glory.

Bernard J. Kunkel, Walton

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Priests should return to traditional ways

Since Vatican II, many of our priests are living in their own condos and apartments. To the secular world they leave the impression that they are merely businessmen going about doing their good works. The spirit of community is no longer there.

Maybe we should go retro and have the priests reside in their rectories and always be in clerical garb. This might restore some of the mystique and respect that seems to be missing today.

If men are expected to give up the blandishments and pleasures of the secular life to be totally dedicated to God, they must be able to see that this calling is far beyond anything they could ever imagine. Exemplary conduct of priests does much to influence people to enter the religious life. Having priests return to the old way of living might be a start to returning the clergy to the status it formerly had.

Frank Labmeier, Green Township

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Some priests have too much social life

Having been raised in, and involved with, several local Catholic parishes, I read "Overloaded priests pray for strength"(May 3) with great amusement. It has been widely observed by many Catholics that their parish priests manage to maintain very active (personal) social calendars in addition to, or perhaps despite, the needs of their parish. Because I have friends and family in the St. Margaret of Cortona Parish, I can attest that the subject of the article, Rev. Len Fecko, is no exception.

While certainly priests are permitted to enjoy recreation, socializing and travel, the reality is that many enjoy as much, if not more, than the parishioners they serve. The responsibilities and stresses of being a parish priest are certainly no greater than those of the families they are serving, so it is difficult for me to feel sorry for them.

Shari Shoufler, Mason

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Introduce new rite in absence of priest

I think the best answer to the shortage of priests is to introduce the new liturgical rite called Sunday Service in the Absence of a Priest, a Communion service with readings and a sermon that is presided over by a trained lay minister.

This would give current priests a chance to train in the new Communion service ministers and help the parishes get used to the idea of Communion services when Masses aren't available because of the priest shortage. It would also prepare the way for men and women to serve in this new liturgy in advance of the time when there are few to say regular Masses.

It is my hope that these new liturgies would prevent any parishes from closing or having to be merged because parishioners would be able to receive Communion and worship with this new liturgy in their current churches. I don't understand why the archbishop thinks the church in Alaska is more in need of this Sunday liturgy than we are here in the Cincinnati Archdiocese.

Elaine Berninger, Cleves




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