The Wanderer, a Catholic national weekly newspaper, has published an article about the severe problems in the Diocese of Rochester, specifically the de-emphasis of the priesthood and the elevation of lay people to positions of pastoral authority. In order to read the article online you will need to register. Here's a snippet, with a grateful hat tip to Cleansing Fire:
[Bishop Clark] set out an ambitious “ course of action” which, now, is largely complete, and there are some Catholics in the diocese who are eagerly counting down the days ( 430 as of May 11, 2011) until he retires, and the Holy Father appoints a new bishop to begin reconstructing the local Church along Catholic lines.
The agenda Clark mandated has not been easy or painless, and it frequently brought him to loggerheads with officials of the Holy See, notably Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, now Pope Benedict XVI.
( As early as 1986, Ratzinger ordered Clark to remove his imprimatur from a sex education book, Parents Talk Love: The Catholic Family Handbook About Sexuality, because it approved of homosexuality, masturbation, and contraception.)
The article goes on to quote Rich Leonardi, a Rochester Catholic blogger:
Rochester Bishop Matthew Clark crows about winning an award for pastoral planning, remarking at the end that ‘[ t] here is a great deal of dying and rising in pastoral planning.’ “ The people of Rochester might be forgiven for thinking it’s mostly been the former. For evidence, see my Amazon.com review of His Excellency’s recent book on something called ‘ lay ecclesial ministry’: “Potential readers should realize that Bishop Clark presides over perhaps the most dissent-filled, decadent diocese in the nation. His unique approach to lay ministry, which includes illicitly appointing two members of the Women’s Ordination Conference as ‘pastors’ over parish clusters, has resulted in an unparalleled vocations crisis. ( In the book, he flagrantly defends his elevation of dissenting would- be priestesses by claiming Lay Ecclesial Ministry ‘has become a substitute ministry for the one to which they feel called.’) “From 1995 to 2005, the Diocese of Rochester lost over 45% of its priests, a figure unmatched virtually anywhere in the United States. Indeed, priests aren’t even priests in Rochester; they are called ‘ sacramental ministers’ in local Catholic officialdom. And while Mass attendance has stabilized or increased in most parts of the Church in America over the last decade, it is in free- fall in Rochester, dropping almost 25% since 2002."