Monday, August 08, 2011

Priests on their own

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby posts a piece by an Irish priest layman, Rob Fuller, about the possible need for diocesan priests to live in community: Should diocesan priests live in community?

MB has made this point in conversation as well, offering this suggestion with the purpose of mitigating temptation and giving some oversight/accountability to brother priests. It's the model of life that the FSSP strives to observe in its apostolates; FSSP, and part of the rule of groups like the Oratorians - the societies of apostolic life.

There is a failure of masculinity within the Church, but more on the part of the bishops than of the priests. But there is something to the criticism of the "cowboy priest" who enjoys living like a hermit?
Diocesan priests do maintain some of their friendships - most likely friendships with other priests, so why not carry this over to living with them? Granted, it may be difficult to get along with some priests, especially if they have different beliefs. But there may be something wrong with secular priests living like perpetual [American] bachelors.

Without a solid education, such an arrangement would reinforce ingrained and erroneous opinions about what it is to live in community, instead of challenging them (and enabling them to challenge the souls under their care) to discover what it is to live in community and its necessity for the perfection of Christian charity (as well as the development of the common good). Some hermit priests may labor heroically and effectively as spiritual fathers without living in community and have a good grasp of communal life such that they can teach their flocks. But wouldn't they benefit from being able to "talk shop" with other priests?

There may also be some other benefits to living in community -- with some measure of division of labor, priests could split some of the domestic tasks that need to be done, such as cooking, instead of relying upon paid help. It can also shore up defenses against consumerism, as communal life may provide for better forms of recreation and entertainment than watching TV. Last, but not least, there is the opportunity to develop a fuller form of liturgical spirituality, if they can pray the divine office together.


Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, O.S.B. said...

Rob Fuller is not a priest, but a married layman, and a father.

papabear said...

Thank you for that correction, Father!