Monday, August 5, 2013

Clerical conveyances: the St. Elias dilemma

This is rather timely considered we just celebrated the blessing of cars last friday on the feast day of St. Elias. This also reminds me of a story from the life of Patriarch Pavle.

The residents of Belgrade frequently saw the Patriarch in the streets, on the train and on the bus. One day as he was walking to the bus, a Mercedes of the latest model pulled up next to him. It was a priest of one of Belgrade's richest churches.

The driver of the Mercedes told the Patriarch as he was getting on the bus: "Your Holiness, please allow me to take you wherever you want."

"Father, to whom belongs this fabulous car?"

"It is mine, Your Holiness."

"Stop right there immediately!" said the Patriarch. He got down off the bus, went over to the priest, blessed him with the sign of the Cross, and told him: "May God protect you!"

That said, in the US many of our priests are not being paid well enough to live on their compensation packages (a much more grandiose term than the reality of what many priests receive). If parishioners complain about their priest's car they might do well to remember that he has to work a secular job to make up for the shortcomings of his remuneration.

(First Things) - Of all the challenging things Francis has said since becoming pope, none has been more quoted than this line: “How I would like a Church which is poor, and for the poor!”

Simple and direct, it perfectly captures the spirit of Francis’ new pontificate. And what gives it such power and meaning is the personal witness behind it.

Francis’ sparse and austere lifestyle is well-known: As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he shunned limousines and chauffeurs, opting instead for public transportation. Rather than live in the bishop’s residence, he chose a modest apartment. After becoming cardinal, he continued his own grocery shopping and even cooked his own meals.

Elevated to the Chair of St. Peter, many expected him to change habits, but Francis declined. He insisted on paying his own hotel bill, carrying his luggage, and living in a Vatican guesthouse rather than the Apostolic Palace.

Had he left it at that, many would have noted the new pope’s frugal lifestyle and commended his humility. But Francis has done something more: He challenged others to live more modestly themselves.

In a speech last month, Francis warned religious that following the latest fashions, in technology or dress, was not the route to happiness, much less suitable for their state in life:

It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car. . . . A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.

Familiar as these comments should be—who hasn’t been told by their parents not to be wasteful, with so many people starving in the world?—they sparked a mini-uproar. Francis was rebuked by defenders of the auto industry, who pointed out that he himself recently received the keys to the expensive popemobile; was accused of bad economics, since inexpensive cars often break down and harm the economy; and certain traditionalists asked how he could be raising such trivial concerns when there was so much dissent going on in the Church...
Complete article here.

1 comment:

  1. I guess Pope Francis is okay with judging some people. His judgmental attitude, or lack thereof, must depend upon his personal feelings on the matter at hand . . . so, priests driving fancy cars is bad, while priests mistakenly identifying themselves with disordered sexual passions is okay. Evidently he can judge the former but not the latter.