If I didn't know any better, I'd credit Pope Benedict XVI with an exquisite sense of irony. But after watching this pontiff stumble through one public relations gaffe after another, I'm thinking the Year of the Priest was declared without much regard for timing. What's that? How was B16 supposed to know back in March that Ireland's version of everyone else's child abuse scandal would explode in May? My WAG at an answer: that investigation had been going on for nine years.
And what's up with calling Roman Catholics to pray for "spiritual perfection in priests"? Rather ambitious, don't you think?
I think we should start with more modest goals. Praying for priests' willingness to work well with lay leadership comes to my mind. Let's pray this for six months and then review our progress. Finding evidence of willingness, we could then devote the remaining six months to praying for their ability to work well with lay leadership -- or with deacons.
Deacons! Why didn't I think of them two paragraphs ago? (Make my own point.)
Why don't we spend what's left of the year praying that priests treat deacons with more gratitude and respect. This should certainly be easier to accomplish than "spiritual perfection."
While it's true deacons may resemble lay leadership, in that some have private sector experience, deacons are ordained. And, they're men. (We could work on the gratitude and respect thing for religious and lay women later. The Roman Catholic church has been ambling along like this for over 2,000 years, so what's the rush?)
Speaking of irony, I must note that I'm writing this within hours of suggesting (via Twitter) that everyone in Christendom read the editorial, "Community of Disciples" in America magazine. In that fine piece, we are called to stop all rhetoric that is "harsh and often lacking in respect or courtesy."
LordJesusChristHaveMercyonMeaSinnerAmenHailMaryFullofGrace... That ought to do it.