|Bishop Paul is pictured somewhere here.|
Saint John, Canada - The Catholic Church in the great old New Brunswick Loyalist city has accomplished there what the great Protestant British Empire never could: a future without Papist priests.
The bishop of the diocese, Dirk Paul, made the announcement to an excited crowd of middle-aged and older diocesan workers - all women - that "we have truly moved into the Church promised by Vatican II - a Church of the lay people, the real people of God."
When asked what lay behind this particular form of success, the bishop said that it was "a culmination of several important trends, or should I say, actions of the Spirit. For one, we really encouraged the enrolling of effeminate men into the priesthood over the last generation. One of our priests even lives with his boyfriend, I'm told. How great is that! Obviously, men like this are utterly incapable of inspiring faithful Catholic boys and young men to the heights of priestly sanctity."
"Second, the formation of our seminarians was ecumenical in spirit. Third, we never encouraged fanatical Catholic groups in the diocese, like CCO, NET, Theology of the Body workshops, or good marriage or sacramental prep., you know, that kind of thing. Fourthly, we emphasized again and again that there is no difference between the lay calling and the priestly one."
Humbly, the bishop refused to take too much credit for 'this glorious new age of no seminarians.' He praised the 'strong homosexual cabal' in the diocese's priesthood as being particularly committed to a change of priorities in the local church.
One of the lay-workers at the diocesan offices, Martha Neil-Brown-McPhee-Dupont, had this to say: "The most important thing is to just go through the motions, year after year, decade after decade. Many of us have been holding our positions here at the diocese for twenty, even thirty years. What do we do? Who even knows!"
But not everyone in the diocese is equally enthusiastic about a declining priesthood. Georgette Smith, who is the principal of a small Catholic school that gathers in the basement of an old abandoned building, and huddles around a single candle for light and heat, seems to be one of those old-fashioned critics identified by the bishop.
"Now I can only pray that a great tidal wave washes in from the Bay of Fundy, like in the days of Noah," she said.