June 24, 2018
I had dearly hoped never to have to write about clergy immorality ever again … Wrong!
I suppose that I could decide not to write about it even now that people are talking about high prelates and big payouts and all the hypocrisy and cynicism that circle the drain of this cesspool. But I would fail to be attentive and sensitive if I did so.
This is even more the case in view of a conversation in which a friend repeated ‘people’s’ unwillingness to let their sons consider vocations to the ministry, because they do not want their sons to get tarred with the pedophile/pervert/cover-up brush. Oddly, this same friend, in the same long conversation, ventured that priests should be allowed to marry so that they would be more sympathetic and attuned to the e challenges faced by couples and families. I say oddly because some fifty percent (or more) of marriages end in divorce preceded by adultery or addiction or abuse. That means that real sympathy and attunement would require that married priests also become addicts, abusers and adulterers.
I have very painful memories of counseling with the wife of an adulterous husband. The husband happened to be a clergyman. He wanted a divorce so that he could marry his colleague in the next parish. Since this religious group allowed divorce and remarriage, she could find no support for her complaints and no help for her wish to save her marriage and the integrity of a family with three children! Indeed, one clergyperson she turned to blamed her refusal to let him go as the ‘cause’ of his adultery!
You see, the Catholic Church says that all sexual behavior outside of marriage – no matter who the partner, nor matter the age of the partner, no matter the hardship of life without the partner, no matter the need for ‘understanding’ by the partner – is wrong. Everyone who has ever been tempted to such behavior hopes for understanding and compassion and insight. What the Church offers to any one --tempted or fallen – who finds the ‘virgin or married’ definition of chastity hard to achieve, is support in virginity until marriage and chastity toward everyone but one’s spouse. Celibate clergy will probably know everything about temptation; they may even know about sinning; but they can be Catholic clergy only because they are willing to share the struggle toward chastity – a struggle that may even mean forsaking a sinful relationship or forgiving an errant spouse.
Y’know, the hue and cry about parting children and parents at the border is rooted in and echoes Christ’s injunction the ‘no one should part what God had put together’. I hate to suggest a ‘seamless garment’ (no one likes this phrase or its implications) to family life (parent and parent, parents and children). But there is a monster of hypocrisy devouring the souls of those who allow willing parents to divorce each other and the children and then complain that the government intervenes to do the same thing with unwilling parents. The children are always unwilling!
The sins of priests are truly sins and worthy of condemnation and unworthy of concealment. But every other sin has become legally sanctioned, publicly recognized and even praised at times! We – clergy and laity, Catholics and others, saints and sinners -- need to think about slippery slopes and double standards and what is the meaning of ‘right and wrong’.
Really and truly and penitently and patiently yours,