They’re scared at what their reforms hath wrought – a new generation opposed to their spirit (Fr. Andrew Greeley – And notice the by-line: He’s so one with the laity that he can’t use Fr. or Rev.).
My most recent analysis, based on survey data that I and others have gathered periodically since Vatican II, reveals a striking trend: a generation of conservative young priests is on the rise in the U.S. Church. These are newly ordained men who seem in many ways intent on restoring the pre-Vatican II Church, and who, reversing the classic generational roles, define themselves in direct opposition to the liberal priests who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s.
So as promised, a couple brief thoughts. First, some thoughts on the difference between priest and laity. The article mentions the following:
Today’s young priests tend to want to restore the power that the clergy held not only before Vatican II but also before a large educated Catholic laity emerged as a powerful force in the Church after World War II. Older priests today often complain that their younger colleagues are arrogant, pompous, and rigid, and that they love to parade around in clerical dress.
Many a young priest and lay person alike are attracted to the almost forgotten traditions of the Church – I don’t think this has anything to do with power or politics. It stems from a desire to learn the fullness of the faith. But what is the effect of the opposite view- no one wants to become a priest because if there is no difference whatsoever between lay and religious life, why should one enter the latter? No wonder young priests are against that stream of thought. Those that agree with the ‘aging radicals’ see no need to answer the call.
And second, you really do get that sense of fear, don’t you? You can sense it in his use of hyperbole in “restoring the pre-Vatican II Church.” I hate to bring politics in this, but it has some resonance with the Democratic party and the eventual rejection of Hilary Clinton, the boomer generation of Democrats, and what the Clintons brought to politics, with the rise of the youth vote and Obama. (No, I’m not saying there’s any correlation between traditional-minded priests and Obama – just that there’s an interesting generational swing going on there as well.)
So here’s to those counter-reformers and the reform of the reform! You know if you’re making them scared, it’s working…