Eamon Duffy kjenner kirkehistorien svært godt, og skriver i sin artikkelsamling “Faith of Our Fathers” om hvordan prestene hadde vært i middelalderen, og hvordan dette forandret seg med motreformasjonen:
The humble massing-priest of the Middle Ages, a sort of spiritual plumber called in only to do a job and paid off at the servant’s entrance, had acquired a mystique formerly limited to the religious. In the process, the priesthood was monasticized — clerical training, clerical dress, clerical culture, clerical spirituality were all designed to mark off the priest’s vocation and state of life as unique, mysterious, awesome in its responsibility and privilege. Friendships between priests and their parishioners were discouraged (only partly in the interests of maintaining celibacy). The priest was indeed like Melchizedek, without parentage, without roots, a man apart from other men (and especially women!).
It was a noble ideal, and carried with it the notion of the priest as lonely spiritual warrior or explorer, spending long days and nights on his knees, suffering for his people, enduring loneliness and spiritual pain for their sakes. …
I dag har mange (mest typisk for 70- og 80-tallet) enda et ideal for hvordan prestene skal være:
By contrast, we increasingly demand of our clergy that they should be animators, not masters, that they should be approachable, friendly, involved, on first-name terms. There is often among lay people a cruel naïveté about the demands that these new expectations place on clergy. We need to understand the scale of Trent’s achievement, in its refashioning and elevation of priesthood, but we need also to grasp the price and the methods which that achievement demanded. We need also to understand that the Tridentine vision is slowly but surely collapsing under the joint pressures of theological and social change. Without Tridentine structures and attitudes, we cannot have Tridentine priesthood: we cannot have our cake and eat it.
The Middle Ages had a vision of priesthood which was modest and limited. The priest was to be to the Church what the local blacksmith or carpenter was to the secular community, a conscientious workman providing essential services. He must provide with decency the sacraments and sacramentals, he must instill the bare essentials of Christian doctrine and morals into his people, dispense charity to the poor, make peace when neighbours quarrelled, avoid open scandal in his private life. He was not expected to be a preacher, or a guru, nor indeed, in any very serious sense, a spiritual expert of any sort.
Trent and the Counter-Reformation had a different, more exalted vision. The priest was to be a man apart for the people, but, it followed, also a man apart from the people: his life must be conformed to the miracle he performed each day at the altar. He was to be a man of prayer, an example of personal sanctity. He was to be expert in theology and ethics, a spiritual guide to others, and the voice of a teaching magisterium which was ever more detailed and comprehensive in its concerns. When in doubt, you should ask the priest. He was, in fact, to be what the Middle Ages had expected in a monk, though he was expected to live without the support of community.
Our present system of clerical training was designed to provide that sort of priest: it is the product of the Tridentine moment, a moment that lasted from 1560 to 1960, and those of us whose Catholicism was formed by it owe it a profound debt of gratitude. But the Tridentine moment is passing, perhaps has already passed. The sort of expertise the Tridentine priest was expected to have is now within the reach of us all, and in the West we do not need or at any rate no longer want the sort of clerical guru which Trent set itself to produce. As society changes, as the Church calls on all the laity to claim and exercise their priesthood, and as we discover that the charisms which help form the life of the Church can be given to all and not just to the clergy, we are confronted with an urgent need to reimagine the ordained priesthood, as the Counter-Reformation reimagined and reinvented it. ….