Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Director of Vocations of Diocese of Baton Rouge Talks Priests & Seminarians That Have Strong Internet Opinions

I saw that the Vocation Director of Baton Rouge is own Twitter at @mplorrain . That would be
Father Mark Lorrain.

He posted a link to the this months Vocation's newsletter for the Diocese here at 02/12_Newsletter . ( After this month is over perhaps look for it here. )

Read the whole thing! However I want to excerpt this part. My commentary is at the bottom though the BOLDING IS MINE.

Dear Seminarians and Friends,

All of us have been following with concern the debate over the new U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services mandate that would require
Catholic institutions such as colleges and hospitals to provide insurance
coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients.
Our Catholic bishops have rightly opposed this mandate by focusing
on the principles of religious liberty, conscience, and the sanctity of
life. While we support universal access to health care, we disagree with
the mindset that classifies fertility and pregnancy with diseases requiring
preventive services, and we reject the intrusion of government into
the internal affairs of religious institutions.

That being said, a separate issue I wish to address this month is the
manner in which a seminarian or priest may publically and appropriately
contribute to this or any other debate. Many of us now use Facebook
and other forms of social media to share opinions and stay connected
with family and friends. Although it may at times seem like a private
conversation, Facebook posts are quite public and therefore governed
by the rules of professional and personal decorum. Church documents
often refer to priests and seminarians as “men of communion,” by which
they mean men who are mature and self-possessed, who are capable of
genuine dialogue leading to mutual respect and unity
. Unfortunately,
some of the comments I read on the internet give the opposite impression
of people who are partisan, self-righteous, and rather shallow.
The Program for Priestly Formation states that “Formation, as the
Church understands it, is not equivalent to a secular sense of schooling
or, even less, job training. Formation is first and foremost cooperation
with the grace of God.” So seminary formation is directed to a different
result than the ordinary earning of a college or graduate degree in a
field such as political science, journalism, or even theology. The knowledge
we acquire must be accompanied by growth in prudence, charity,
faith, service, and leadership. We are entrusted with a great deal of
power and influence on the day of our ordination and we have to be
careful not to misuse these gifts. We represent Christ and his Church,
and we are not always free to express our personal opinions less we undermine
the beauty and power of the Gospel.

There are a few priests without regular assignments who might be considered
professional writers or bloggers. I find their blogs entertaining
and at times informative, but I don’t aspire to imitate their vocation because
they are not parish priests. I assume they love the Church as I
do, but their tone and language reveal them to be pundits rather than
prophets, and I have no desire to be a pundit in the manner of the talking
heads on television. So feel free to post your future homilies and reflections
as extensions of your pastoral care but resist the temptation to
offer public opinions on every political or religious figure and cause.

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has a passage
in his book Priests for the Third Millenium where he writes “We
need priests who are zealous but not zealots. By zealous I mean a priest
whose heart burns with love for Jesus and his people and who is eager
and effective in generously bringing that flame to others; by a zealot I
mean a single-minded, obsessed priest who thinks that the answer to
everything is by excessive attention to one cause. Our cause is Christ
and His Church ― every other cause is secondary.” Well said.
In Christ,
Father Matt

I think he strikes the right tone. Now a few thoughts.

It's striking he seems to be focused on Parish Priests and I think that is apt. People of a Religious order ( that are not doing Parish work) might be in another position perhaps at times. Think Pro life, Poverty , war and Peace issues, etc, etc. In a Parish one has a lot more on one's plate and Christian "Diplomacy" and tact is a must.

There are of course some issues Priests, Brothers, and Deacons ( with the right attitude and demeanor) must speak on it seems that affect us all.

This birth control mandate being one. The right attitude , and demeanor I don't think means the lack of being very FRANK. Priests can take their lead on that from their Bishops.

Then there are the issues dealing with the culture of death ( abortion , state execution, Euthanasia etc). I guess also immigration reform issues are a huge part too.

Now that is a big list to start with.

What about economic issues the Bishop's speak on ? Economics is a thorny issue because well there is a lot of leeway as to solutions. Still the Bishops often put statements out on them. The fact is that in Louisiana if the Priests does not talk about the concerns of the Bishops the laity will not know. How many people are actually going to the Louisiana Conference Web Site to to get "informed". How many Catholics are actually reading those Legislative updates?

The fact is I can't recall a one homily on the rather explosive issue of immigration reform in any of the Parishes I attended EVER!! Yet the Louisiana Catholic Bishop's had, and still do have strong opinions on this matter.

So we have a conflict it appears or do we? First I agree how one conducts an argument /discussion is important. Better to lose the argument than turn off a soul to Christ. Further less is often better so when something has to be discussed it gets noticed.

So there is a balance of Catholic Priests ,and seminarians having to have some avenue about informing vs just talking about everything on the net.

I suppose in the end it means just applying a good bit of common sense. The public square does have major consequences for Faith but 90 percent of Faith matters in people's lives don't deal with that I suppose.

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