Bishop of Parramatta Vincent Long OFM Conv has told a seminary reunion in Sydney that the model of an exalted, separate and elitist priesthood was "drawing its last breaths", The Tablet reports.
The former Vietnamese refugee said the Church needed to reclaim "the essential quality of the priesthood as Jesus the Humble Servant".
"We bear the brunt of public anger and distrust in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis," Bishop Long told the August 30 gathering at Dooleys Lidcombe Catholic Club, in western Sydney.
"It is one of the hardest times to be a priest. Yet paradoxically, it is also one of the most exciting times that we, as ministers and messengers of the Gospel, are privileged to live and to make it known to others. It is precisely in this 'kairos' that we are given the unique opportunity to accompany our people in a spiritual exodus that I believe will lead to a new dawn for the Church.
"There needs to be an attitudinal change at every level, a conversion of mind and heart that conforms us to the spirit of the Gospel, a new wine in new wineskins, not a merely cosmetic change or worse a retreat into restorationism.
"So much of what is wrong with the Church today stems from a travesty of Christian leadership and service. As far as I am concerned, the sexual abuse crisis is only the tip of the iceberg.
"When privilege, power and dominance are more evident than love, humility and servant-hood in the Church, then the very Gospel of the servant Jesus is at risk."
Bishop Long said he was not suggesting that the lines of distinction between the ordained and the non-ordained be erased but that "each one should complement, rather than stifle the other".
"Like the wedding feast of Cana, the wine of old has served the Church well but it is running out. The old way of being a priest has, likewise, well served the Church we love. But that model of the exalted, separated and elitist priesthood is drawing its last breaths – at least in many parts of the world including Australia. There is a better wine that the good Lord has prepared for us."