This is a transcript from a phone conversation I had with a parish administrator in my hunt to arrange for the Blessed Sacrament to be taken to an elderly and frail relative.
The real problem is that my relative will only receive Holy Communion from a priest or, at a push, a deacon (provided that they look like a priest and are not in civvies).
I would have precisely the same attitude in a similar situation.
I have some sympathy with a parish who has a decent PP but who is suffering with illness himself at present. I have sympathy with busy deacons.
But, I do not have sympathy when nothing is done, over a long period of time.
I do not have sympathy when I am told by a voice over the phone that: "Your mother (sic) was seen at Mass with another relative so we assume she is alright".
One, she is not my mother. Two she is housebound (more or less) and three she would rather conduct a self appendectomy with a rusty saw blade and a coat hanger than attend a novus ordo Mass.
To me this is a snapshot of the modern Church.
All shallow, smarmy pc talk, cant and hypocrisy but no intention of practising charitable works.
Not just charitable works but works at the very heart of a priest's vocation (sorry, are we allowed to use the 'V' word still?).
I regard the current 'deacon' status with some reservations.
Yes, yes, I know we had 'em years ago but we also had the bubonic plague years ago so it does not follow that everything is hermeneutically sealed.
And yet the problem of too few priests and too many demands on them is not going away, if anything, it's getting worse.
Of course, our Holy Father (whose reign most bishops now seem to regard as some sort of Petrine aberration) had a very good solution some two or three years ago.
He asked for priests and parishes to be federated; clustered in other words.
Instead of four separate parishes in a rural area, the HF suggested that they should be brought together so that two or three priests could live together as a community, reducing the housing and living costs elements by up to 75% and creating a vibrant hub of fraternal support and round the clock pastoral care.
It makes sound sense in both human resource and spiritual management terms.
But then, what does an 85 year old 'conservative' 'blinkered' Pope know about parish life?
The Bishops know what's what and they are following the example set by their brothers in France who employ priests on a peripatetic basis to visit a parish on a six weekly rota.
For the rest of the time the parish church gathers dust and the associated overheads that attend large, old, semi used buildings.
And for those who have not yet guessed, my mother/aunt/cousin/sister-in-law/stepmother, lives in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, home to the pin up of Eccleston Square, Bishop Kieran Conry.
Say no more.