The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit : a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise.
This verse leapt out to me as I read this pearl of wisdom – A Place for the Damaged. It resonated within me as I have not always been the strong and compliant type institutional Churches like in the priesthood. Cardinal Siri of Genoa once said, in the matter of choosing ordinands, that he would prefer to make twenty mistakes than be unjust one single time.
Fr Blake’s article is poignant. There are some French nuns who have Down’s Syndrome, normally those one would never allow to join a community, have a job or even live. The longer I live, the more I wonder what is “normality” in mental terms and what is “madness” or “mental illness”. I noticed the priesthood becoming very “elitist”, and was even more taken aback when hearing the same reflections from priests ordained around the time of World War II or before.
Screening has become rigorous in the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, and the smallest questions on psychological assessments are enough to dash the hopes of an entire life.
It is true that a priest is ordained for others and not for himself. However, should he be excluded for the simple reason that he has no ministry in a parish?
Many souls offer themselves for the priesthood and religious life. I have just been to a diaconal ordination in my diocese of someone who has been with us for a long time, but who does suffer from poor health. He would certainly have been rejected in the Roman Catholic Church. Many have been damaged through the vicissitudes of life.
Fr Blake does make the point that many saints like Theresa of Avila or the Curé d’Ars would not have made it through the modern selection system.
This interesting article is worth reading, as are the links to some of the things Pope Francis has been saying. This theme is a part of my New Goliards idea.