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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Presumption of guilt upon every priest

I heard a blurb on the national news and found this link on

For those who haven't heard, Cardinal George has issued a directive to all priests living a "double life" to come forward for the sake of the Church.

A priest told ABC7 Friday night that many in ministry feel especially vulnerable now to unfounded accusations. They worry there is now a "presumption of guilt" against any priest accused of abuse.

Father Corapi actually discussed this issue. The Church is under attack by un-Godly forces, and I am not referring to the left-wing media. God forbid that a priest be seen speaking to a woman unsupervised, or hugging a child. The automatic assumption is that the priest is doing something wrong.

That is not to say that some priests aren't guilty of really horrible acts, but now if someone is looking for a settlement, all they have to do is cry "ABUSE!" and the priest has been condemned without trial, his life ruined, a good shephered slaughtered by the wolves, and the flock devastated and scattered, polarized by the controversy.

I'd like to think there's a special place in hell both for unrepentent abusive priests AND the people who cry "wolf" but are the wolves themselves. However, my faith teaches me that such a sentiment is wrong and actually sinful. We cannot either elevate someone to heaven, nor can we damn them to hell, as this judgment is for God alone.

This type of attack has even made the laity wary. Last lent, I had my home blessed. I was hoping to actually make this a more formal affair...have friends over for a small gathering, have the priest bless my home, and stay for dinner. As I was living alone, I figured that both he and I would be more comfortable in the presence of others. I did not fear the priests, I did not worry about impropriety, but I was concerned about public perception. I live in a townhome community and my surrounding neighbors knew I lived alone. Given the bad press about the Church, a priest coming and going may raise suspicion.

Yes, I know I was being ridiculous. Unfortunately, our entire CULTURE is ridiculous and would prefer to assume the worst rather than the best. We live in a world of "Desperate Housewives" according to most, rather than a world of people just trying to do the right thing. Including priests.

The vast majority of our priests are wonderful spiritual fathers; they have and demonstrate integrity, love for Christ, love for the faith, love for the people. When I see a priest, I more often think of purity than I do of acts better left unsaid.

But our culture has taken a truly shattering series of events and has projected the assumption that all priests must be evil and must be kept away from children...and everyone else.

Let's think about this...who would have an interest in crippling our priests, preventing them from doing their jobs? What kind of opportunists (cough DISSIDENTS cough, cough) would use this as a platform from which to project the idea of female priests? What kind of creature would like to see our holy priests prevented from carrying out their duties ordained by God? They can't do much if they are seperated from their flocks under false charges, can they?

I still look back at my fear of having a priest come to my home as I did not want anyone to think anything untoward was going on, and were it not for the media vultures, the constant bombardment of our senses every time something of the Church came up, I would not have had this ridiculous concern.

Consider the media....nearly every time there was a story about the Catholic Church, the media would bring up the "scandals". It didn't matter if it had nothing whatsoever to do with immmoral acts...the media headlines would read, "X happened amidst the ongoing fallout of the scandals from X months/years ago".

As it happened, there was no fanfare when my house was blessed. I asked Father to bless my dog and I for some pet therapy work we were starting at a nursing home (pet visits only, nothing special or technical), and he agreed, offering to come and bless my home. I could have brought my dogs to the Church, but if he wasn't available, it's not like the dogs could have come in and waited for him! So I agreed, but had no time to prepare or invite others as it was the next day. It was simple. He came, he blessed my home, both dogs, and me, and had to leave for other appointments. Not big whoop.

Interestingly enough, the only "fallout" from this visit was another neighbor's concern that someone on my side of the building was ill. He, a non-Catholic, commented to a Catholic neighbor that he saw a priest arrive and go around the corner, and in his estimation, that meant that someone must be seriously ill.

Funny how the media incites us to stupid unfounded fears while the average person actually still retains enough sanity to see a Roman collar and realize that it's more likely to mean that the priest is there to help, not harm. Rather than causing the man to wonder about baser acts, he wondered if he owed a sick neighbor a visit or some assistance. He saw the priest and "the scandals" never crossed his mind. He was drawn to more noble pursuits such as concern for another person.

This gives me hope, but serves to remind that our priests are under a very real attack, and they deserve both our appreciation and our heartfelt prayers.

(It also serves to remind me not to watch too much TV or read the papers too much. Has tainted my mind and my perceptions, so it has.)


1 comment:

Kei said...

Amen to that! Everything these days is affected by any sort of scandalised event. After that, the media just takes it to an exaggerated level, and then create a personal Hell to many.

God bless our priests, and God forbid that they are prevented from opening us ourselfs to the true ways of Yahweh!