The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Home Page
The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Home Page

Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Archives



Return to:  Home > Archives Index > Priesthood Index

Observations on the Reflections on
American Catholicism and Priesthood Today

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

The following observations are made after a careful reading of Reflections on American Catholicism and Priesthood Today. The author of these reflections has been president of the National Federation of Priests' Council, founded in 1968. The purpose of the federation is, "to give priests' councils a representative voice in matters of presbyteral, pastoral and ministerial concern to the United States and the universal Church."

During these reflections, he begins with a brief analysis of the Catholic Church in America before the Second Vatican Council.

He analyzes the marvelous Catholic institutions in our country, before Vatican II, as largely the result of immigration from Europe. He tells us, "Shunted aside from the mainstream, these immigrants developed their own social structures to carry on the mission of the church (always lower-cased) and to see to their own well-being. From hospital to cemeteries to schools and social clubs, Catholic society paralleled and too often imitated the broader society. The children and grandchildren of those immigrant generations filled the seminaries and convents with men and women who later ran the institutions of this vast social network."

But then, he continues, "Even as these institutions succeeded, they planted the seeds of their own decline."

What were these seeds of decline? They were the seeds of isolation. Inevitably, these immigrant Catholics became Americanized. The author sees this Americanization as progress. There is no hint that by Americanizing, so many believers became de-Catholicized.

Restructuring American Catholicism

Having set the groundwork, the author is ready to propose his master plan. It covers two areas, a shorter one for those present-day Catholic immigrants who are isolated by their segregation and poverty; and the larger area concerning Catholics who have adopted changes from the Second Vatican Council and wish to restructure the Church to conform to the American model.

One Church: Many Ecclesiologies

As might be expected, the author admits that not all Catholics in America agree with his plans for restructuring the Church in our country. In fact, he believes there is such a diversity of opinion, even on fundamentals of the faith, that nothing less than a rethinking of Catholic doctrine is called for. This rethinking must begin with the priesthood.

There is no way of identifying what exactly the author means by rethinking the priesthood. One thing, however, is clear. He is unhappy because so many Catholic priests in the United States are unhappy, and he is honest enough to identify the five main sources of this unhappiness:

  • "The way authority is exercised in the church."

  • "Unrealistic demands and expectations of lay people."

  • "Too much work."

  • "Loneliness of priestly life."

  • "Being expected to represent church teachings I have difficulty with."

In the light of the foregoing, it is no secret why the author wants a drastic change in what he still calls the "priesthood."

Only the Lord knows what the author means by "the terrain of American Catholicism." But one thing seems certain. This Catholicism is not that of the Church founded by Jesus Christ.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

search tips advanced search

What's New    Site Index

Home | Directory | Eucharist | Divine Training | Testimonials | Visit Chapel | Hardon Archives

Adorers Society | PEA Manual | Essentials of Faith | Dictionary | Thesaurus | Catalog | Newsletters

Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association
718 Liberty Lane
Lombard, IL 60148
Phone: 815-254-4420
Contact Us

Copyright © 2000 by
All rights reserved worldwide.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior
written permission of