Attending a party as a seminarian and being in a Roman collar, a lady came up to me to talk and she started telling me all kinds of things that I doubt she really wanted just any old person to know. I interrupted her and said, “I’m not a priest. I am only a seminarian. I don’t think you should tell me these things.” She waved my comment away and said, “You’re close enough,” and continued with her story.
I told one of professors about this and asked him what he thought. He said that it was because of the good reputation set up for us by priests who have gone before and so we are often automatically given the benefit of the doubt. We should be grateful and work diligently to keep that reputation in tact for future priests.
Well, you know the muck we are in (again) right now. Just when it seemed we were gaining traction again . . . well, you get it.
So what is a priest to do at the parish? Pennsylvania is the elephant in the room. The readings for this weekend are so beautiful, challenging and dynamic but, because of the actions of some, we will have to deal with the scandal. Trust has been gravely damaged.
Trust is not a boomerang. When it is thrown away it doesn’t just come back. Like a marriage in which on of the spouses has broken the trust of the other, saying, “Sorry” doesn’t cut it. It takes a long time because the trust needs to be rebuilt.
Sin always leaves its mark. There is no such thing as private sin. It always leaves a stain because one of the very definitions of sin is that it brings harm into the world spiritually, mentally or physically. This sin exploded in a such a dramatic way that it not only harmed those directly involved, but it brought damage to the greater Church. (Hw grotesquely powerful the sin is!)
I imagine almost every Catholic knows now what it is to be guilty by association. Yet that is there to say? What happened was wrong. It was indefensible. It was terribly damning.
As one priest put it, the Church is on fire. What are we to do? What does Christ call us to do? Run away or hide until there is no more need for fire fighters? Or does He call us to run in and help put out the fire especially where souls are most at risk?
Do not grow tired or discouraged. It is a terrible day. But it is the terrible days that call for saints.
At the very least, pray for all embroiled in this sad situation, especially those at ground zero. But also the many people whose faith journey will be tested (or even derailed) because of the selfish desires of some. Could a bomb do any more damage?