Saturday, April 09, 2005

Marquette’s John Paul Priest

We were rather appalled to read an account of widespread hostility to the late Pope John Paul II among Jesuits.

Happily, things appear to be changing in the order, due to an influx of younger priests who identify themselves as “John Paul priests.” One of these is the Rev. William Prospero, S.J. According to the Christian Science Monitor:
“I couldn’t stand the low-church craziness going on in the Catholic community” as informal services were displacing traditional liturgy, says the Rev. William Prospero, S.J., ordained seven years ago and now assistant director of campus ministry at Marquette University. John Paul II renewed pride in tradition, he says: “He didn’t compromise ever. He always proclaimed the truth boldly and clearly and succinctly.”
One of the great “they don’t get it” themes of the mainstream media is their habit of polling Americans and asking them what they want the next Pope to be like.

John Paul II didn’t proclaim what polls said people wanted to hear. He proclaimed the truth as defined by scripture and Church doctine. Sometimes such preaching falls on deaf ears. Jesus’ disciples experienced this and He told them “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town” (Matthew 10:14). In some quarters, the modern approach is to wheedle and cajole and dilute the message until it’s finally within the comfort zone of people who fundamentally don’t want to accept it. That strategy may be tempting in decadent Europe or blue state America, but in fact it’s a recipe for long-term decline. The Monitor goes on to note:
In recruiting priests, America has lagged behind developing nations. Seminarian enrollment is up 73 percent worldwide from the level in 1978 when John Paul II became pope, according to the Rev. Edward Burns, director of vocations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In America, however, enrollment numbers are down about 50 percent over the same period.
People of faith will want to pray for a revival in places where faith has fallen on hard times, but in the meantime preach a vital gospel in places where people will listen. John Paul the Great understood that.

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