Wednesday, September 09, 2009


It might sound silly, but I actually am looking forward to retirement. It is still a good twenty years away for me, the standard retirement age for men currently being 65 in Australia - although it might be later by the time I get around to it. Few people regard retirement as the end of their active life - most retirees would see it as finally the opportunity they have always been waiting for: the chance to do the work they really want to do, rather than the work they have to do.

Priests - and bishops for that matter (see the side bar in Cooees) have their retirement age set at 75. Cardinals cannot vote in a conclave beyond 80. The pope is the only one whose office lasts until he dies. All this seems fair to me. The longer working life of priests has nothing to do with the priest shortage. There is simply something about celibacy seems to preserve the priestly caste, so that their working life extends longer than with us mere mortals. But even they need a rest finally, and it would be unjust of the Church to demand they continue full pastoral responsibilities beyond that. Of course, the character of priesthood lasts to the grave (and beyond!), and so a priest can and should still certainly spend his retirement doing priestly things.

Which reminds me of a good joke (best told with the right voice, but you will have to make do with the print version):

It's Sunday, and Father gets up into the pulpit: "My dear people. The Holy Father has just raised the retirement age of priests to 105. And so, you see, I shall be with you another three years..."


At Wednesday, September 09, 2009 6:46:00 am , Anonymous adam , london said...

Yes, but you fail to grapple with the Bob Maguire issue and how at 75 he is a vibrant priest. Also, for the bishop just to turn up on the doorstep with a letter to 'move out' in a month, seems unjust and for a man who has given his life, so abrupt and cruel. After all, cardinal Knox, that great and holy bishop (much missed by those who knew him), gave him the parish for life ! Yes. Why does Dens Hart not take that into account. There is a real problem here. M Teresa worked on till she died at 86. Popes can work till they drop in their 80's but with a massive priest shortage, why are some bishops telling some good priests to go when they are fired up? This issue does not require rules and Canon Law - can you imagine STs Peter and Paul having to resign at 75 if still alive then with the flame of faith and missionary zeal. The Church needs good and faithful priests even more now.


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