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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Quo Vadis the Maltese Church?
Some interesting quotes from today's opinion on The Malta Independent by Martin Scicluna, one of the main promoters for the introduction of divorce in Malta in 2011:
Although increased involvement of the laity at parish level, Mass in the vernacular with the priest facing the people, an opening out to other faiths and religions are concrete signs that some of the aspirations of Vatican II have been realised, the Church remains monolithic, monarchical and hierarchical in an era when a better educated and more discerning laity is no longer prepared to accept blindly the dictates handed down by Rome.
Attempts to open up the Church undoubtedly appealed to many of the younger priests and members of religious orders in 1962. But now, in the twilight of their careers, these same people find themselves disillusioned by the current attempts to claw back changes that resulted from the Council, or simply to ignore the urgent need for the Church to move with the times – as we saw so vividly demonstrated in Cardinal Martini's extraordinary plea from the grave in his death-bed interview with the Corriere della Sera.
The lower clergy, in particular, are resentful of the disconnect between them and the church hierarchy, who rarely consult them on liturgical changes or appointments, yet expect them to deal with increasing unease in their parishes. In addition, the initially inept management of the clerical abuse scandals by Church leaders around the world, the lack of accountability and honesty that characterised their responses, have left deep wounds among an increasingly secularised and cynical laity.
Without entering into the merit of Scicluna's opinions, one can say that Vatican II never envisaged the priest facing the people - and in the process turning his back to Jesus Christ in the tabernacle. But somehow many consider this as a positive development, a sort of good manners... Secondly, whether wanting or not, Scicluna concedes that today's clergy are not following those that were ordained in the sixties. Thirdly, Scicluna admits that liturgical changes are ongoing - albeit usually these occur at the whim of the priest in question and not following any dictates from the hierarchy.