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Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Catholic Falls out with a Priest

Whaddya gonna do, abandon your faith? Come on!

Priests are men. Men (and therefore priests) are fallible and sinners.

It is a very painful situation. You know he is fallible and sinful – you always did. You have an opinion about his intellectual ability – brilliant, ordinary, not particularly gifted. You have an opinion about his social skills – amazing, clumsy, crass or whatever. Likewise about his judgement.

It is painful but it affects your participation in the Mass not at all. As in the military, we salute the uniform, not the man. We are lucky when our commanders or clergy are inspiring. We don't have the right to expect it. When an ordained priest consecrates the bread and wine, it is consecrated.

The above is personal. But it does relate to something for which anti-Catholics have enjoyed castigating the Church: child abuse.

[Incidentally, typical anti-Catholic castigators have helped to create a society in which (almost) any sexual preference or sexual behaviour is simply regarded as a lifestyle choice.]

As a father, I find the very idea of children being abused (in whatever way), particularly by one entrusted with their spiritual development, nauseating.

Here follow a few personal thoughts:

I am sure that the individuals involved in recent scandals are (for the most part) filled with self-loathing. Their superiors have been disgusted. Those superiors are (as it happens) charged with responsibility for the welfare (spiritual and non-spiritual) not only of the laity but of the perpetrators. I don't envy them.

They are presented with evidence of appalling abuse, perpetrated by clergy. They are confronted with conflicting choices. Should their primary concern be for the children, or for the reputation of the Church?

For what it is worth, my view is: the children!

I love the Church. Her reputation matters to me. I want everybody to be a Catholic. Insofar as the scandal has encouraged anyone to reject the Church, I am appalled.

God's Church on Earth is a human institution, (though instituted by Christ Himself). It has been ruled by monsters in the past – and by fallible men in every generation.

Catholics are as disgusted by priestly abuse as any one – more so, I assume. Catholics, as a whole, are disgusted by "cover ups" by the hierarchy.

Catholics should be aware that Bishops have multiple responsibilities. And yet! They should have had greater courage. They should have had greater Faith!

God's Church doesn't need cover ups. Don't do it – ever!

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