We are, once again, being encouraged to “reimagine” not only priestly formation but the priesthood itself and the Church herself. I’ve been there, and it was a hell-hole of oppression by the Radical Left.

Recently, we were treated to an article at Crux describing a “two-day symposium at Boston College” of “ecclesial heavy-hitters” dealing with the future of the priesthood. This was a follow-up to a previous confab which served up a wish-list in December of 2018. Key expressions say it all: “a call for a reimagining of priestly formation”; “renewing the conversation”; “threefold dynamic”; “foster authentic psychosexual maturity and integration.”

Who talks like that? I can tell you who: Left-overs from the failed revolution of the Sixties and Seventies. As Yogi Berra put it, “It’s like deja-vu all over again.” I know whereof I speak because these phrases brought back nightmares of my would-be priestly formation from that precise era. Yes, I admit I am a victim of post-traumatic stress stemming from those worst eight years of my life.

I am amused when liberals call for “dialogue” or “conversation” because that suggests they see themselves on the short end of the stick. Once they are on the ascendancy, all “dialogue” and “conversation” cease. My seminary was a hell-hole of oppression in the pre-Vatican II era; in my time, it was a hell-hole of oppression by the Radical Left (the agenda had changed but the agents were the same). Indeed, the initial steps were hesitant and conversation-oriented. However, when someone raised an issue for conversation that did not fit the proper “paradigm” (yes, we had “paradigm shifts” then as well), the axe fell fast and furiously.

We had been encouraged to “reimagine” not only priestly formation but the priesthood itself and the Church herself. Naively, I took the bait and wrote an article for The Priest in November of 1973, entitled “The Parish: Crucible of Priestly Formation.” I critiqued the whole disastrous system and “suggested” that a different “model” was needed, namely, having seminarians live in parishes and commute to theological schools. By January of 1974, I was shown the door. The “dialogue” was over. The personal harassment and persecution, however, went on for nearly two years more.

The Leftists today, however, are not quite so subtle and clever as their forebears of an earlier time. They have actually handed down the demand in no uncertain terms: “All consideration of priesthood and ministry must flow from the Second Vatican Council’s affirmation of the Church’s living tradition as it has been received and developed by Pope Francis.” The key words, of course, are “as it has been received and developed by Pope Francis.” Not even Vatican II itself is a starting point, with Presbyterorum Ordinis or Optatam Totius. Certainly not John Paul II’s Pastores Dabo Vobis. Not even, apparently, the brand new Program of Priestly Formation, approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops this past November.

It is important to have handy a lexicon to interpret the gibberish emanating from the “Woke” participants. Here are my English translations of a few of the goals of the cognoscenti:

• “an evaluation process for candidates that allows institutions to ‘be free to evaluate candidates honestly,’ without a concern to ‘maintain numbers’ by persevering with unsuitable candidates”: Get rid of conservative seminarians.

• “a call for exploration of new models for ordained ministry” and “There have to be adjustments made.” “The future of the ministry of the priesthood cannot be the same of the past.”: A Protestantized priesthood, which would include women and married men.

• “As the number of priests declines, we have an opportunity to recognize women in ministry, and make space and resources available for their formation, so that they can better serve the people of God.”: Ordain women.

• “This incorporates the vision of Vatican II in ways that are not always evident today among those who emphasize a cultic priesthood and a priestly identity that is set apart and above the laity.”: Out with a sacramental understanding of both Church and priesthood!

So, who are these forgers of a “brave new Church”? We learn that cardinals were present, including — surprise, surprise — Blase Cupich of Chicago and Reinhard Marx of Munich! Six other American bishops were involved also; among those “heavy hitters” were none other than Bishops Robert McElroy of San Diego and John Stowe of Lexington. In truth, with one notable exception, every hierarch cited is as far Left as you can go without tipping over the canoe….

The above comes from a Jan. 7 article by Father Peter Stravinskas in Catholic World Report.