The New York Times has published an Op-Ed piece by Patrick J. McCloskey, a project director at the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness at Loyola University Chicago, and Joseph Claude Harris, a financial analyst. Citing statistics of school closures and vocational decline, they paint a grim picture of Catholic education in America.
The crisis is a real one, but the solution proposed is silly:
One solution is at hand. In the late 1960s, the Vatican allowed men to be ordained as deacons, who are clergy with many but not all the powers of a priest. Today there are almost 17,000 in the United States, about the same number as active diocesan priests. Over the next decade, the diaconate will continue to grow, while the number of ordained priests is projected to decline to 12,500 by 2035.
Many deacons have valuable professional, managerial and entrepreneurial expertise that could revitalize parochial education. If they were given additional powers to perform sacraments and run parishes, a married priesthood would become a fait accompli. Celibacy should be a sacrifice offered freely, not an excuse for institutional suicide.
What this is saying, unless Messrs. McCloskey and Harris are really confused about sacramental theology, is that the Church should ordain all the married deacons as priests. That will fix the parishes and the schools.
Leaving aside the problems associated with a married clergy, this point needs to be made: By and large, the men under discussion have paychecks from their non-ecclesiastical sources of employment. Will they all leave their jobs voluntarily to become full-time employees of the Church? Would they all want major mid-stream career changes? Where will the money come from to pay them, and won’t the Church lose a substantial amount of support from the donations these deacons give? Will their wives want the social pressures of being the “priest’s wife” and their children of being the “preacher’s kid” (or PK as such individuals are known in the Southron speech)? Would the cultural and economic demands of this totally new status quo in the Catholic Church really fix more problems than it creates?
This is ideology parading as common sense. It was liberalism and progressivism that destroyed Catholic education in this country. Liberal progressive solutions will only worsen the matter, not fix it.