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Sanctifying Effect of Priests to Faithful - richgr - 08-11-2015

An important point repeated in the early 20th century by popes and bishops was that the condition of the priests directly affected the condition of the people, especially in sanctity.

"Latin American Seminary Reform by Dr. Lisa Edwards" Wrote:In his first encyclical (E Supremi apostolatus, 1903), Pope Pius X noted that "as a general rule the faithful will be such as are those whom you call to the priesthood." A few years later, he instructed the archbishop of Caracas (Venezuela) to make the reform of clerical discipline the primary goal in his efforts to improve the situation of the Church. When clerical discipline was inadequate, it was no surprise that the people would fall into perversion. At the same time, he noted, when the clergy were of high quality, Christian life could be restored easily.

It was a running assumption during the modernizing programs following Leo XIII that a reform of the clergy and seminaries would lead to a betterment of the faithful and a defense of the Catholic Faith. Surely social reforms and cooperation of the laity in many aspects was very important. We know Pius XII emphasized the importance of voting and said to refrain from voting without good reason is a mortal sin. But also, a huge emphasis in the reform of the seminaries was that if the priest were better educated, he could make a better impact on the faithful. These emphasized, for example, rhetoric, languages, natural and social sciences in addition to the programs of theology and Scholastic philosophy.

Recently, speaking with a friend, apparently he has heard that it is a false principle to say that as the priest is holy, so will the faithful be even though theology tracts at this time say basically such. For example, Tanquerey in his manual on dogmatic theology says that the personal holiness of the priest obtains grace through the offering of the Mass in a more perfect way than if he were not holy. I think I recall Garrigou-Lagrange saying something similar in his works on the priesthood.

What do you all think of this supposition about the relationship between priest to faithful? Do you think poor priests within the past few centuries has been a significant cause of the decline of the Church?

Re: Sanctifying Effect of Priests to Faithful - AntoniusMaximus - 08-11-2015

I definitely think there is a relationship.  I believe st john vianney said something to the effect if a priest abandons his congregation and comes back twenty years later they would be worshipping beasts.

But the priest is after the father, the local shepherd so the locals will heed and yield.  I have been to parishes where the priest had an iron fist grasp over the parish administration and some with more loose administration.  A lot of time there is a light and night difference.  The former may have the exterior of piety but nothing on the inside.  The other may look like a Jackson pollock painting but have some heart.

The worst parishes I have been though are those that are more "democratic" with the laity.  You have too many chiefs and not enough indians.  Rarely anything gets done.  The deacon or worst the musical director has way too much powerful.  The message is always affirmative and the parish is deep in the red.  And the people are starved, granted old people that populated don't want to hear the last four things.

My philosophy is that when you are a new priest, you need to meet the congregation where they are at not what you think or should be.  If you had ten years of liberal administration, God help you because despite them saying about how nice they are to people and how they want to help every one.  They are bloody demons.  Once established and making the necessary behind the scene changes, gradually introduce things don't go out there hammering contraception immediately in your first semon.  It is a relationshio, it is about trust.  If you establish the trust they will be more willing to adhere to the teaching