Msgr. Thomas G. Guarino: The National Survey of Priests Suggests a Deep Crisis in Catholic Theology

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Given their abrupt suspension of accused priests, the bishops have eroded the theological density of the sacrament of Holy Orders. By so doing, they have undermined the very deposit of faith they seek to protect and transmit.

By Msgr. Thomas G. Guarino, Catholic World Report, December 28, 2022

Rev. Msgr. Thomas G. Guarino is professor emeritus of systematic theology at Seton Hall University. Most recently, he is the author of The Unchanging Truth of God? Crucial Philosophical Issues for Theology (CUA Press, 2022).

A few weeks ago, the Catholic Project at The Catholic University of America released the results of a massive survey of Catholic priests in the United States. Priests interviewed numbered 3,500 from 191 American dioceses.

Predictably—at least for those who have been paying attention—the results constitute a biting indictment of the American episcopacy. The most prominent finding of the survey is that a majority of priests do not trust their own bishops—and, shockingly, only 24% of priests trust the US episcopacy in general. In other words, the bond between priests and their putative “fathers” and “brothers” is badly corroded. Even worse, bishops are largely unaware of the decay, with over 90% claiming they are very helpful to priests dealing with personal struggles. In fact, only 36% of diocesan priests think that bishops care about their difficulties, with one man summing it up, “We’ve been saying for a decade now that bishops see their priests as liabilities.” …

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