Megapolis, USA: Local diocesan officials are, in their own words, "flustered" by what they insist is a typo in the diocesan newspaper, asking through an ad that the new Cross Cultural Ministry Director be conversant in "laity".
"Whether this is embarrassing?" asked the Vicar General of the diocese, Fr. Michael Smith. "Objection #1, I know that we wanted to create a ministry with an outreach to the immigrants from Laos. And some wanted someone who had studied Latin. On the contrary, I guess that's where this came from. It was sloppy on our part and I answer that, we want to assure the laity of the diocese that we actually know your language. Ahem, word up. God bless."
The mea culpa statement from the diocese didn't stop the flood of outraged letters pouring into the pastoral center today. An anonymous source in the chancery shared a few with the IC blog, and some were indeed scathing. "I knew it! You people haven't watched Dancing With the Stars in your life! You don't drink Milwaukee's Beast because it's a cheap escape and you don't have friends who are divorced, sleeping around, and like Danielle Steele novels! My recommendation? Like any other language: full immersion is the key, you theological headcases. I'm enclosing a copy of People magazine." Another pleaded, "We don't want YOU to become laity. We just want you to recognize that we have different vocations and STOP EXPECTING US TO BE PRIESTS!!!" One letter writer seemed almost grateful, however: "Look, we always knew you didn't know the language. It's been awkward. At least now you're advertizing for us."
Journalism professor Aaron Berryman at RBCU* did note that the ad and public statement were a bit fishy: "First, our immigrants from Laos don't speak Laotian, the word similar to laity, but Hmong. Second, considering Latin knowledge for a cross-cultural ministry position makes very little sense unless the ministry is to ancient Romans. Third, let's be honest: it's funny because it is true. I think the printed ad was legit, and no typo at all."
Some lay people, working for the diocese, argued this was getting blown out of proportion. "I have a great relationship with the clerical members of the diocese. For example, some ask me if I expect to procreate again any time soon. It's kind of sweet, really, since they know my wife and I hope to have a big family. So, their English is a little different. It's no big deal," said Director of Youth Ministry, Scott Jordan.
When the anonymous chancery source was asked whether pastors were going to be asked to make summer immersion trips in learning Laity, in the model of the common Spanish immersion trips, he replied, "No, of course not. Ridiculous. But, um...do those opportunities exist?"
*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University