Saturday, 5 March 2011

The developing world needs young priests...... why do so many British Bishops enlist them as parish priests for their Diocese?

This is an issue that has been bubbling away for the last 15 years or so. Why, are we enlisting foreign priests to work in English and Welsh parishes?
It appears as if the Missions of my youth to places such as Senegal and Zanzibar are now operating in reverse. Instead of White Fathers can we now expect Black ones? Are we the "new" needy and deprived of the world?
There may be a case for, say, a Polish priest to attend a parish that has a high number of expatriate Poles but the greatest influx of priests is coming from India, the Phillipines and African countries - don't they need these priests there? Aren't these the countries with a rapidly swelling Catholic population?

We know the answer of course. It is the simplest solution to the UK vocations crisis; the one that requires least effort. The one that does not require a denial of the de-construction of the faith that took place in the 70s and 80s.
I cannot comprehend how these priests are even allowed in the country to work. My understanding of the British system for admitting foreign people who intend working here is that, in most cases it is strictly forbidden. The prospective employer has to prove that there are no viable UK (or EU)applicants for the post (perhaps that is the key). At any rate the UK Border Authority normally require a limit placed on the stay of  the individual....that does not seem to be happening here.

What harm is being done? Surely this is a way of ensuring that parishes have a priest to tend to the needs of the faithful?

My concerns are firstly, that the priest is in demand back home and we should not be plundering  easy recruitment grounds overseas in order to prop up our own failings. Secondly, many of these priests bring a totally different form of Catholic culture with them. I do not wish to see  priests going about their duties dressed in dhotis or garlanded with flowers and I certainly do not wish to see the liturgy further distorted with add ons based on "this is how we used to do it in Manilla".

If this all seems rather churlish and insular, I am sorry but I just cannot approach it in any other way. Of course, we are the universal church and one of the advantages of that is the acceptance of all nationalities but I cannot get away from the fact that, in a relatively small Diocese such as Menevia, something approaching 30% of the priest population originates from abroad. 

1 comment:

  1. In regards to how the Church is able to get such priests into the country, I imagine it's a similar situation as is here in America, where we also bring in a lot of foreign priests. Usually it's a lot of work to get into the USA, but visas are given away very easily to those who come for religious work. The UK probably has such an exception too.