Monday, November 19, 2007

Priests, Bishops and personal conversion

I read an interview in the National Catholic Register with Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. In his response to a question about a Synod on the Bible, he gave what I consider to be one of the most straightforward, true commentaries on the priesthood. He said:

"We priests and bishops need to recognize that many of us are products of notional Christianity. Quite a sizable number entered seminary, received formation and got ordained, but might not have experience any personal conversion. When that is the case, we are missing something that is very basic for the life of a Christian."

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Although it wasn't clear to me if he was speaking primarily about the African priests and bishops, it is clear to me that his comments are universal.

If we are to evangelize--which is an incredible responsibility--our ordained leaders of the Church must, must, must speak to us from their personal relationship with Christ, their personal conversion experience, and, their struggles as well.

It is simply not enough to have the information and live it without an underlying conversion. For those who have had this personal conversion experience, they would do well, in humility, to offer it as testimony to strengthen their flock.

It's hard to imagine that there exists the possibility that one might be able to live the life of an ordained priest without such experience, but I think the good Cardinal alludes to the fact that this situation does indeed exist.

His other responses in the interview reflect his thoughts on what non-Catholic churches are doing that is working. He identifies "the need to celebrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit more . . . ." and says that he tells the students in the diaconate that they have to "develop a personal prayer life and deepen their spirtuality," and that "Christianity goes beyond the theology and terms that we have learned to something more relational."

Amen. Amen. Amen.

The time is now. We MUST get this right.

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