Not coming from a Roman Catholic tradition, I've been intrigued by the debate surrounding the celebacy of the priesthood and the male exclusivity of the clergy. After all, other denominations have moved ahead, not without struggle to be sure, but moved nonetheless, to model what it means for all of God's people to have a place at table, and to officiate in the offerings that the table provides.
Richard Schoenherr's "Goodbye Father" provides powerful insights to those of us laypeople who struggle with one's appropriate role in the church, and who are looking for a deeper analysis of this religious tradition.
In his discussion of why dropping celebacy will happen prior to changing the patriarchy of the ministry, Schoenherr defines how the embeddedness of patriarchy, the decline of that partriarchy in other denominations, and the depth of the debate about marital-status exclusivity contributes to his thesis. That discussion provides clues into the struggle the church faces, but also gives hope that the stance on celebacy can change.
That today's issues are now indicative of Schoenherr's predictions demonstrate the wisdom with which the author presents a significant contribution to the role of men and women in the church. This book deserves a read by anyone concerned about those roles, regardless of the denominational background of the reader.
Goodbye Father attends to the heart of the crisis facing the U.S. Catholic Church-the quality of pastoral care for the people. Schoenherr understands that the religious care of the people revolves around an ordained priesthood and the Mass so the quantity and quality of priests truly matter.
For Schoenherr, life is a paschal mystery in that people are involved at every moment in linking their lives to the death and resurrection of Christ. The liturgy makes that connection more powerfully present in people's lives. The limitation of the Catholic priesthood to celibate males denies people who are thirsty for spiritual life an adequate level of religious care. The ordination of married people and women promises a greater number and deeper quality of priests.
Goodbye Father is informative of my thinking and formative of my aspirations. It humbly invites us to think more deeply and act more courageously in regard to what may well be the will of God.