Keynote speaker Leena Fernandes
A group of lay leaders say they criticize priests because they love the Church and the clergy. About 50 Catholics met yesterday in Mangalore, in southern India, to share their views in a discussion entitled Growing anti-clericalism in the Church -- symptoms, causes and remedies.
Around half-a-dozen priests joined them as observers. “‘It is out of love and concern for the Church and the clergy that we criticize priests on various issues,” the group said in a statement. Leena Fernandes, the keynote speaker, accused many priests of craving an easy life, power or publicity and forgetting Jesus’ command to bring the Good News to people. “While priests in bygone days walked with the people, priests these days are becoming presidents of corporations,” the retired principal of a Catholic college said. She urged priests to avoid playing up personal anniversaries, glorification and celebrations and maintain prayer-oriented lives, and a simple lifestyle. She also urged priests to foster community life to avoid loneliness. Audrey Pinto, meanwhile, said priests often think their ordination has made them an expert in just about every subject. Walter Culaso, another participant, said only about ten percent of priests give the rest of the clergy a bad name. “Today’s seminaries are producing mini popes,” he added. Not all comments on priests were negative. Michael Lobo, a researcher and historian, came to their rescue by saying lay people have so many expectations of priests now, even a saint would find them difficult to meet. Jesuit Father Rony Prabhu, who organized the meeting, said he found nothing wrong in people expecting more from priests but reminded the group that priests are “the product of our own families.” Related reports: Priests ‘need comprehensive formation’