Sacramental Magicians?

Father Thomas Homa, the priest who blessed Smarty Jones, was interviewed on Relevant Radio on Monday.

When asked if he made it to the Preakness to see the race Sunday--he laughed. No, he said, "there's just me here, and I had mass."

It was a reminder that the real threat to Eucharist among US Catholics doesn't come from gay activists or pro-choice politicians. It's that there are so many Catholics and so few priests.

In more than 3,000 parishes, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, there's no priest in residence to regularly celebrate the Eucharist.

Instead, the congregants have to settle for a communion service with pre-consecrated hosts, or a occasional visits from guest priests.

The cover story of the current US Cathlic -"Oh Father Where Art Thou" - quotes Karen Kane, director of the Office of Worship in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, who says that the priest shortage undermines the meaning of the Eucharist.

“There is a great concern that priests are becoming sacramental magicians and that sacraments no longer have connections to the lived experience of the community. Sacraments become magical acts that happen when Father comes in. This is a huge dilemma for all of us,” she says.

For all the hoopla over bishops banning politicians from communion--it's really a non story.

It’s not going to happen. No matter what the Vatican, or anybody else says.

There are 4 Catholic bishops who said they’d ban politicians. A few more—like Archbishop O’Malley of Boston, have asked politicians to stay away, but aren't going to police the altar rail. When I talked to him last week, Jim Dwyer of the archdiocese of Chicago put it this way: "We aren't going to make anyone sign an affidavit saying 'I'm not gay or lesbian' or 'I voted pro-lfe.'"

And no politician who wants to get elected or stay elected is going to march up to one of those four bishops at mass nd say, “I dare you.”

That’s what it would take. If John Kerry wants to commit political suicide, he could force a confrontation at a mass celebrated by Archbishop Burke. I've got a feeling that he'd rather be president than go to mass in St. Louis.

Here's a potentially bigger story--more lay people, like the "Ushers of the Eucharist" take matters into their own hands to block people from getting communion.

The Ushers tried to block gay-rights advocates wearing a rainbow sash to the Cathedral of St. Paul (Minnesota)from receiving communion. David Pence, the group's organizer.

David Pence, the group's organizer, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that:

"The bishop has abdicated his authority. That's the problem in the Catholic Church.
Bishops have not protected the flock from this large predator movement of sexual dissent and homosexuality in the priesthood and in the church bureaucracy.''

If a pro-life politician like John Kerry came to mass and lay people got in his way -- now that's a big story. Talk about taking the seperation of church and state to a whole new level. And what on earth would the Secret Service (who protect nominees) -- do?


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