Thursday, August 10, 2006

The parable of the Church

Vatican Recruits African, Asian Priests as Fewer Italians Serve

Apathy toward the Vatican, the independent papal state on the Tiber River within Rome, became a subject of debate in Italy after the release last year of the ``The Parable of the Cleric,'' a study of the country's priesthood. It showed that one of every five churches in the Rome area is led by a non-Italian.

The decline in priests began in the 1960s, when young people began questioning institutions such as churches and pursuing social change through protest rather than prayer, said Mary Gultier, a senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, or CARA, at Georgetown University in Washington.

A Low-Paying Job

``The status of clergy has declined in the U.S. and around the world,'' Gultier said. ``People used to hold up the clergy as a pillar. Now it's seen as just another low-paying, white-collar job.''

The number of foreign clergy in Rome is five times the national average, in part because the region's 1,440 parishes are best positioned to tap the pool of foreign priests attending the city's 17 seminaries and Catholic educational institutes.

The higher number is also a result of the historical animosity between Romans and the Vatican. Centuries of Vatican authority created tensions, said Luca Diotallevi, a sociologist in Rome who edited the Parable study.

Tensions in Rome

Before Rome's territories were united with the rest of Italy, the Vatican was the region's biggest property holder, rulemaker, tax collector, and at times torturer and executioner. When the papal states were wrested from Pope Pius IX in 1870, many Italians turned their backs on the Church.

``Having a person so important living in your neighborhood can create a certain sufferance,'' said Marco Fibbi, spokesman for Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who fills in for the pope in administering many of his duties as the Bishop of Rome.

With Rome hostile, the Vatican finds itself turning more and more to the likes of Marano of the Philippines.

Symptoms, symptoms, symptoms. Now what, pray tell, might be the cure? Will we see the cure in this pontificate? The more I consider the situation, the more I come to one conclusion in particular. The aftermath of Vatican II was swift in its changes and those changes had swift effects. Would not such a drastic change back be as efficacious?

I leave you all to consider such change and the effects it would have upon the Church.