day 13 – dunderhead priests

I don’t claim credit for the term `dunderheads` in the Church. A dear friend of mine uses it as an umbrella term for those in clerical leadership positions whose actions and judgments defy rational thought for us in the pews. The obvious choices are those guilty of the unbelievable and inexcusable sexual abuse scandals or who collaborated in the great cover-up of the same. There are also those who make the head-lines with pronouncements of excommunications. (They give me visions of Alice`s Queen of Hearts…off with their heads!) There are many columnists and bloggers that give reasoned synopses and critiques of these well publicized dunderheads. I want to focus on the every-day, garden variety.

Again, as with the other lists, this comes from personal experience and observation. If you read the previous post on Priests of Integrity, you will recognize this list as the opposite of the good qualities I listed. Without further ado…..

You might be a dunderhead priest if:

1.       You place yourself apart from and above the community that you are called to serve.

2.       Your first stop on a visit to Rome is Gamarelli`s (the papal tailor) or one of the many other high-end clerical clothing establishments. Fine cloth and a good cut, after all, make the priest.

3.       You consider children not only a noisy interruption to your well-rehearsed homily, but a legal liability in the age of pedophilia paranoia. Contact with them is to be avoided at all costs.

4.       You use sacramental moments as an opportunity to show your power. Baptisms, Weddings, and Funerals are a golden moment to let parishioners know who`s the boss.

5.       You have an unlisted number at the rectory to avoid those annoying late night calls. You are also unavailable on Mondays and Tuesdays. Sundays are stressful and you need the down time.

6.       You only befriend the wealthy and influential in the parish. A little schmoozing will go a long way towards generous stipends and use of vacation properties.

7.       You carefully tend and promote your image of the perfect, holy priest. This is what`s expected of you.

8.       You protect the mighty fortress that is your rectory. You surround yourself with your priest friends, and don`t get involved in the messiness of the neighbourhood and world around you.

9.       You believe that threats and fear are the best incentives for conversion. This method, after all, has worked through centuries of crusades and inquisitions.

10.   You find yourself saying, `this is my parish and we`re going to do things my way.`

Upon reading this list, you might think I have issues. Well, I do! This list was comprised from actual behavior of priests that we have observed over the years. Again, it is a personal list and (sadly) far from complete. In your experience, what qualities make for a dunderhead priest?

(If, like me, you find yourself getting depressed with this list – go back to yesterday`s list to remind yourself of all the good men who serve us with genuine integrity in the priesthood.)