Chronarchy (chronarchy) wrote,

33% of bishops think 50% of priests suck? Huh?

On many levels, it is entertaining to me how interested I have become in the Church of England over the past year or so since I started reading the CartoonChurch blog by Dave Walker. I've graduated from his blog to a blog called the Chuch Times Blog, which features some of his artwork.

A recent story entitled "'Poor quality' of vicars alarms Church leaders" is based off a leaked, confidential report done by a division of the CoE that found that Bishops are worried about the standards they hold their priests to, as well as their continued enthusiasm for priestly duties. Once upon a time, this might have been an interesting news point or a blip on the screen for the CoE.

Of course, in today's blogging world where every jerk-priest has his or her own blog (says the jerk-priest you're reading), things are different.

The priests have reacted rather bitterly (imagine that) to being called "low quality" and insinuating that their motivations and temperament are not entirely level, and that their sermons just aren't up to snuff. You can read a sampling of their responses yourself. Fortunately, most seem to be waiting to actually see a copy of the report, rather than simply reacting.

I see the point of the study. As a very distantly (and somewhat disinterested) party, I know exactly what the Bishops wanted to see out of this: they were seeking constructive, honest criticism of their own methods of ordaining and promoting clergy.

One comment stood out in particular to me:
Dear Dave, I am the senior manager of a large firm. Currently, we are facing a few problems - rising costs, falling sales, poor morale, people leaving - that sort of thing. Recently I have decided most of my new staff are a bit rubbish. I have issued a management report pointing this out. What should I do next? PS I am ultimately responsible for staff appointments.

Indeed, those who are appointing and ordaining should be certain that they are ordaining at the quality that they wish to ordain. It is also vital that we don't necessarily look for people who are "perfect priests" when they're consecrated or ordained, just priests that we are confident will grow into the role (Gods know I'm still fumbling around in the dark half the time).

ADF's ordination process isn't actually "look-I-finished-this-study-program-now-when-do-I-get-consecrated?" though it often looks like that. Acceptance to the Clergy Training Program doesn't equal rights to become clergy, just the ability to become eligible. As I thought about this little hubbub over the CoE's own internal worries, I reflected on our own. I think that our Clergy Training Program goes a long way toward preparing people for clergy work, particularly as you advance through the second and third circles. Still, I find myself hoping that the Clergy Council Officers don't find themselves adding priests if they aren't sure that this person is capable and ready.

The CoE seems to be struggling even more than we are with the balance of providing support and the lack of qualified persons to provide that support (on the whole, I think we're actually doing pretty well). It's interesting to look at a four-hundred-plus-year-old institution and identify similar issues in our twenty-plus-year-old Org and ask, "Okay, how can we learn lessons from these guys?"

(And, of course, I can't help but wonder if my own consecration had issues of expectation or if those who consecrated me sometimes have doubts about me. But honestly, that thought isn't productive or important here. So this is just a note, in the spirit of openness.)
Tags: adf, clergy, comics, reflections

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