In Jim Purcell's article "Focus on preaching the kingdom is key to ending clericalism" (NCR, Aug. 26-Sept. 8), he advocates a change in canon law, whereby a layperson could become the pastor of a parish. I take exception to his premise.
The common definition of "pastor" is "a minister in charge of a Christian church or congregation." Parishioners have the right to expect no less of the person in the leadership role in a parish. Parishioners can expect confidentiality in the sacrament of reconciliation. They would not enjoy that with lay "pastors."
Purcell states that Jesus emphasized preaching over presiding at the Eucharist. True, but Jesus was the walking Eucharist. No need for him to "preside over the Eucharist." And there is some evidence in the writings of Justin Martyr (circa A.D. 152) of the Eucharist being celebrated every Sunday
Sunday Eucharist has been in place for so long, a schism might occur if the shift changed to some Sundays. Most serious Catholics will tell you they need Communion at least weekly.
Purcell seems to presume that celibacy is here to stay and that the declining number of priests will continue, therefore necessitating lay pastors. There would be no shortage of priests if the pope would extend the Year of Mercy to include relaxing the antiquated and unbiblical celibacy rule, and bringing back married/resigned priests. And, more importantly, to recognize that women make fine deacons, priests and bishops in other churches. When this happens, clericalism will end.
(The Rev.) J.O. "PETE" WRIGHT
Thank you for publishing Jim Purcell's viewpoint on clericalism. This is a great example of why I read and support NCR.
This is "out of the box," forward thinking that helps us see the critical essentials of our Catholic faith. It brings to light to the impossible task we have assigned to young, celibate men who want to be priests.
I doubt I will live to see the end of "clericalism" but I know we must start changing now. It is imperative that we enable all Catholics to be disciples, and to be able to truly appreciate the magnificent blessings each of us has been given.
San Jose, Calif.