Starting Point
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Issue Date:  November 18, 2005

Starting Point


On a recent fall day, I went to lunch with some of the favorite women in my life -- my mom, two sisters, niece and great-niece. The restaurant where we wanted to eat had ample outdoor seating, but they told us the wait would be an hour. When my sister pointed out several tables available on the patio, she was told that yes there were open tables but the kitchen and serving staff could not keep up with all the orders.

We found another restaurant down the street that also had outdoor seating, a table available, and evidently sufficient help to serve all its hungry patrons. As we sat down at our table, my sister wondered why the other restaurant did not call in more of their help to meet the demand of people wanting to enjoy lunch on their patio on such a beautiful day?

The same question might be asked of the leadership of the church. We have many empty tables today and people are waiting for service, but the excuse those in charge of the institution give is that we don’t have enough cooks and waiters for everyone to be seated at the table. The difference, of course, is that many people in the church have already heard the call and are more than willing to serve at the table, but they can’t: Their biology has disqualified them or their calling has been compromised by the love they share with a spouse or beloved.

So, like the owners of the restaurant, the leaders of the church are content to grow smaller and serve fewer to preserve a male, celibate clerical system. No wonder so many are finding other places and tables to nourish their hunger for God and community.

And whether the proprietor of this restaurant is Polish, Italian or German, this much is certain: This kind of table talk is not allowed.

Precious Blood Fr. Joseph Nassal is a retreat director and the author of eight books.

National Catholic Reporter, November 18, 2005

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