Wednesday, February 27, 2013
I am a sinner myself. I too have fallen short of the glory of God and on all too many occasions I have failed to live as a Christian. Daily I struggle to be a Christian yet alone a priest. My job is not to sit in judgment on anyone but I also have to stand up for the truth revealed in Jesus Christ. I have read the report or rather article from the Polish priest Fr. Dariusz Oko. It makes for disturbing reading when taken in conjunction with the rumours about the cardinals' report to the Holy Father and what they allegedly discovered. There are always rumours. It's part of how Satan stirs up evil in the Church and the world. Go along to this blog post and then go down and read the comments to see how distorted and bigoted human thought can become when it listens to rumour and innuendo and refuses to give facts a chance. Yet there also rumours that are pieces of the truth, warning rumbles of approaching trouble or hidden disorder. Knowing the true from the false is not always easy.
I support and teach the Church's teaching on homosexuality. I have been challenged by students and by members of congregations for doing so. It's a painful subject for some and an uncomfortable one for many. Family members, especially parents, often want to support their child and maintain that relationship with them while people who have same-sex attraction often want approval and not just tolerance. They will settle for Church silence.
That said, as a priest for the past fourteen years, while I have heard rumours and innuendo, I have not personally met any openly homosexual clergy. Maybe I live in some world of my own. Maybe I just don't move in circles that intersect with such men but while I have come across homosexuals I haven't met clerical ones. Too often effeminacy is equated with homosexuality which is an unjust and very ignorant supposition. There is a secretive, furtive side to homosexuality as there is to many deviant forms of sexual behaviour that is part of the attraction, part of the buzz, the frisson, that goes with breaking rules. Such secretiveness, coupled with the desire to avoid repercussions means that at least in Ireland any homosexual clergy will keep a low profile. That said a priest had a heart attack and died back in 1994 in a homosexual sauna and was, allegedly, anointed by another priest on the spot! The owner claimed that there were about twenty priests who used the sauna regularly. I wonder how he knew they were priests?
I have no doubt there are homosexual clergy and if they are not living their vows they should ask themselves why they are still priests. The same goes for heterosexual clergy who fornicate or commit adultery. If any of them are part of a clique (however loose) that promotes other clergy or laity based on their support for or ambivalence to homosexuality or opposition to Church teaching on human sexuality then they should have the decency to desist or abandon the ministry.
What is frustrating is that one does not know what is true and what is false. There are rumours but little evidence. There is evidence of cover-ups of abuse, failures to act swiftly and effectively, and deviation from the doctrine of the Church. There are those who teach heresy or fail to affirm the Church's teaching even in third level colleges and nothing is done to them. There are no repercussions. Priests grant 'general absolutions', tell penitents they need only tell a single (mortal) sin, hold penitential services during Mass, alter the text of the Mass, and give public support to groups and persons that oppose Church teaching and nothing happens. One must ask why?
Why does it take Vatican intervention before clergy are challenged on their teaching? Why does it have to go to Rome before liturgical abuses and other irregularities are confronted? Why did it take so long to deal with the abuse of children when, as the Murphy report affirmed, the bishops already had enough power in canon law to stop the abusers from getting access to children? I am not convinced that it was always concern for the image of the Church. People rarely really care for the image of an institution. People really care about their own image and the image of the group with which they are associated. Perhaps there was some other threat to their image that encouraged bishops and religious superiors to turn a blind eye? I cannot prove this but I now suspect it of some.
It is discouraging to deal with these issues but, as Mr. Voris, puts it it is better dealt with than not. Better to bring the poison out into the open, to drain the puss from the abscess and to apply some healing remedies. We will always have to deal with those who see in the sacred ministry not a path to God or a means to serve His Kingdom but a career choice or a place to hide from their demons. Perhaps very few of us are entirely pure in our motives; we are all sinners but that does not mean we should tolerate our own sins or the sins of others especially when they harm the Church.
This Lent can be a new beginning, a return to the sources, a return to authentic Catholicism. This Lent can be a re-appropriation of obedience to the whole teaching of Christ and an abandonment of the à la carte Catholicism of the last forty years. I believe we are seeing the stirrings of a deep reform movement within the Church, a continuation of a stream that preceded the Council but got side-tracked or went underground and is now re-emerging to carry the Church into greater fidelity to her Lord. We must choose whom we serve.
Posted by Br. Tom Forde OFM Cap at 12:05 PM