Wednesday, May 5, 2010


So, the entire nation of Greece is on strike or something like that.

This got me thinking about the situation in the Catholic Church. I've discussed the need for more activism among Catholics, more protest and even civil disobedience in the face of entrenched institutional incompetence, and this "general strike" of millions of Greeks got me thinking.

Are Catholics really so passive that they haven't been able to organize and agitate effectively for change for decades? If a whole country can do it, what's been stopping Catholics? I think the sadder reality is that many want or wanted change...and simply didn't care enough to fight for it, simply leaving the Church or becoming apathetic.

I also started wondering about the possibility of priests going on strike. Has this ever been done? Apparently, it has a rare few times. But doesn't it say something that it hasn't happened more? Certainly that would have been unthinkable for a long time, but in modern day America? The fact that this has never happened should scare us quite a bit, because in some ways it confirms the American Protestant accusation that the Catholic Church is a feudal institution that will not adapt to our culture even when it is inserted institutionally into it, an authoritarian juggernaut able to stubbornly resist and crush any sort of democratization like that.

Priests have grievances, no doubt. Most of the lower clergy, even if called to celibacy themselves, support beginning to ordain married men, if only so that they themselves could have support in running 4 different parishes or whatever (as happens some places). Many of the liberals would probably also support other structural reforms to the priesthood. Many of the conservatives would certainly support demands that the bishops fix the liturgy, crack down on heresy, excommunicate pro-abortion politicians, etc.

And yet the priests have no Union, at least not that ever does anything like this. They've never managed to organize a "grassroots interdict" like this. To limit sacraments to emergencies, maybe consecrate a whole bunch of hosts and then have a deacon lead communion services on Sundays and Holy Days only. Partially it is because they don't want to be seen as using the sacraments as a weapon, they don't want to hurt the people in order to get to the bishop. But what other leverage do they have? Collectively refusing to donate any funds to the diocese perhaps. Frankly, I think many people would actually be behind their pastors if they decided to be more activist.

Almost everybody wants some sort of reform. Many would be willing to be activist even. They just need leaders.

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