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Joseph Bonchonsky  (jpbonchonsky@gmail.com)
AMERICAN BYZANTINE CATHOLIC RESEARCH CENTER 1334 RAMONA DRIVE, MOUNT SHASTA CA 96067 #383 OCT 2014 CHURCH UNITY CHALLENGE ... THE FAITHFUL CHURCH UNITY CHALLENGE ... THE FAITHFUL The Body of the Church is the Faithful; and, we are composed of every possibility; the learned, the poor, the true followers, the pious, the do-gooders, the innocent, the sinners, etc., you name them. Now, the One Church must guide each and every one of them. It might be said that the One Church has tried to reach out to every one of them. But, we have only truly reached 17.5% and we have decreased to that percentage during the past 50 years. Naturally, there are many action-items such as an oversupply of priests, sisters, vocations, and active participating faithful. We are far-short in priests, sisters, and vocations and our Church Leaders are firmly captivated in their present growth limitations. The faithful may be the only solution. We are reminded that the faithful have an immeasurable quantity of qualified. The problem to energize them is that they also must provide resources to raise a family and the Church resources are controlled by the celibate priesthood who are most desirous of continuing their present activities. There is no immediate viable solution therein. The approach may be best to start by determining the route of successfully engaging the appropriate faithful in the opportune duty. The route of “education” appears to be at the forefront. Educating our children first would be of high priority and our Catholic School system requires double payment, first to the public schools and then to the governing parish. That would have to change. The public schools are institutionalized and appear unmovable. However, a movement to allow time for religious education therein could succeed if all religions were included but separately. This approach would require a miracle and may be possible only after Church Unity. Public voting on “school vouchers” may succeed in largely religious cities and that is worthy of investigation. The one approach that may be most successful is increasing the “quality and availability” of Catholic school systems. Our first ingredient that may lead to success is a qualified oversupply priests and sisters. Presently, with our celibate priest shortage that route is decreasing. Married priests will solve the priest shortage and they will have a second source of income other than the parishes with their limitations. We have tried the celibate priest teachers and their shortage eliminates all approaches. I remember my father’s Slovakia story where they had five priests in their hometown but only one parish priest position to finance a married priest with family. The town was quite poor and farming was the primary financial source for four of the priests, all married. Catholic school teachers could satisfy the additional basic financial needs today. Most importantly, there must be a way to finance a married priesthood to support an oversupply and attain the highest of educational levels. Teaching is high on the list and in compliance with Our Lord’s instructions “to go forth and to teach all.” There are many areas of investigation to finance teaching priests. The married priesthood would result in an increase of the attendance of the faithful and that could be a financial source. The problem with this is that our bishops are celibate and bent on building the best of church buildings. I remember Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles who purchased land in undeveloped outlying cities-to-be and then required the schools to be built first and to include a larger school gymnasium that would serve as the church site until paid off and then a magnificent church building could be built based on the success of the school to attract students in need of a high quality of religious education. There are ways to go forth and the first in priority is an oversupply of priests and sisters. Most every solution to Catholic growth begins with an oversupply of qualified married priests as it was in our beginning. Roman bishops are stifled by man made decisions. Although the Church is decreasing in percentage of the population there is a major increase in faithful who, unfortunately, also leave the faith in large numbers. The USA had 43,851,538 faithful in 1963 and 69,436,660 faithful in 2013 with a forecast to 89,483,811 faithful in 2050. We had 56,540 priests in 1963 and 40,788 priests in 2010 but the (latest) forecast is 20,620 priests in 2050. Sisters numbered 177,154 in 1963 and 58,724 in 2010 and decreasing. Our USA problem is our Church Leadership who are fixated on a celibate priesthood despite Our Lord selecting married Apostles and the early centuries comprised of a married priesthood and even with married Popes well into the middle of the first millennium. There appears to be two interpretations for the Holy Bible, one for the faithful and one for celibate priests. There is no way our present Church Leaders, our bishops and celibate priests are going to change their man made mandate on celibacy even on parish priests; however, the departure of the USA faithful (20,000,000 in accordance with a recent Pew study) and the low attendance in many parish churches will turn a financial eye brow of two. That is no way to manage the Apostolic Church. The key factor will be Church Unity with the Apostolic Particular Orthodox Churches who have an oversupply of married priests and a celibate hierarchy. It will also be the Orthodox faithful who have observed the persecution of their brother Eastern Catholic faithful and need explanations and clarifications by the Roman Catholic bishops. There are no satisfactory explanations except brotherly love and respect for each other. Considerable weight rests on the ten Postulators for the Pontifical Council for Church Unity and their knowledge of the Eastern Churches, past and present, to create an initial Church Unity Agreement with the Orthodox that will survive the post-agreement document with the faithful, East and West. Church Unity with the Orthodox will require miracles. GOD IS WITH US GO WITH GOD Joseph P. Bonchonsky
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