The Catholic Herald reports that the Holy Father Pope Francis spoke to his brother bishops today, saying,
“In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops.”
“True, we are all sinners, we bishops,” he added. “He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people.
“The Great Accuser, as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, ‘roams the earth looking for someone to accuse’.
Now I realize that the Holy Father is privy to vastly more information than little ol’me. Perhaps there are issues with bishops around the world being accused of this, that and the other, issues that I am completely unaware of. What I am aware of, however, is this gigantic infection in the Church which was at one time diagnosed, but perhaps was unrealized in its severity. The people are scandalized alright, but it isn’t by the act of the unmasking of the sins of prelates! The people are scandalized by these sins, coverups and the utter silence coming from the Holy See.
I don’t know about you, but when if my child has a giant infection which is threatening her very life, and I have been unable to rid her of it by employing the means at my disposal, I’m going to turn to the professionals. I’m going to see a doctor, who will likely lance the nasty infection and get it out of there. Could you imagine my saying this of the good doctor?
“In these times, it seems like the Mighty Physician has been unchained and is attacking children. True, we all carry bacteria in our body, we humans. He tries to lance putrid infections so they nauseate and gross out the people. The Mighty Physician roams the hospitals looking for people to cut.”
That would be CRAZY! The doctor needs to rout out the infection and flood the body with the appropriate remedies to bring it back to health.
With all due respect to the Holy Father, I disagree with his assessment that it is Satan who is bringing to light these issues in the Church. I firmly believe Our Blessed Lord has had enough, and has given His Mother the license to clean. house. If there’s one thing a Mama can do, it’s that, and she can also nurse her children back to health. I believe Our Lady is very busy right now, and we must continue to trust in her, even when it’s painful, and to have recourse to her in our needs. Do you remember when you were young and ill, and your mother took care of it, even if it wasn’t fun at times? Our Blessed Mama’s got this.
The Church has been brought to her knees. She has been infected for too long with what my friend Mike Church calls “homoclericalism.” The sins against chastity, against the sixth commandment, are riddling the Body of Christ like a rampant infection. It’s not 100% a homosexual problem, but that is the root cause of much of the issues for the clergy. But the clergy aren’t the only ones riddled with sins against the sixth commandment.
I DO believe the sins of the clergy need to come to light because the Church at this point is being seen by many as a very hypocritical organization. “Live Chastity! Be pure! (but only you, not me).” To maintain its very credibility as possessing the fullness of the Truth, the Church needs to LIVE THE TRUTH. There’s a difference between the struggles of individual priests who are trying to live the truth they preach, and the insipid systems of abuse and coverup that are being exposed. When you are placed in a position of authority, if you are habitually living as a hypocrite, that needs to be known.
And it’s NOT just sins of the clergy. It’s the sins of the laity as well!
If my husband and I were asked to lead marriage preparation, and we taught our couples about NFP, and the evils of contraception, yet were contracepting and having abortions or affairs on the side, that should be known! We would need to be exposed and removed from teaching couples because our credibility would be zilch.
Now here’s the crux, to me, and I realize some will disagree with me on this. In matters of sexual immorality regarding the clergy this is my starting point: HOW CAN WE EXPECT OUR PRIESTS TO LIVE LIVES OF PURITY, AND CHASTITY IF WE LAITY DO NOT SUPPORT THEM BY OUR OWN LIVES OF PURITY AND CHASTITY IN OUR STATE IN LIFE?
Yes I realize that the Sacraments give all Christians the strength that we need to live out our vocations faithfully. But I also acknowledge that we are not all our own little islands. We are a community. Often it is a struggle to do right for the sake of doing right, especially when a large sacrifice is involved. We can, however, prop each other up with our encouragement and our sacrifices, and find the strength to live out the virtues with the moral support of the faithful Christians around us. The faithful living out of our vocations as laity, when offered to Christ, changes the lives around us, and can surely change the lives of our struggling priests! Surely you acknowledge how easily we are influenced by others.
“Why should I give up my birth control when Father XYZ is having gay cocaine-fueled orgies in the apartment given him by the Vatican?” “Why should I put money in the church’s coffers when Bishop XYZ has just built himself a multimillion dollar retirement mansion? Let him fill the coffers!” “You’re pregnant again? We don’t have the breed like rabbits, you know. The Pope says so!” “Why should we work on this marriage when X & Y got a divorce and seem to be so happy now!” “Why should I stay in the priesthood? X is a wonderful lady, and celibacy is too heavy of a cross.”
The fact is, our priests and those in the single consecrated life (whether religious or lay) are struggling sinners with hearts and libidos just like the rest of us, however unlike the rest of us, they have chosen to sacrifice human intimacy for the greater good of Divine Intimacy.
This is no small sacrifice, and it’s not that easy to be intimate with the Divine, let me tell ya! At least, it isn’t for me! The rest of us, who are open to the married state, whether married or not, have not made this sacrifice, but we are still called to lives of chastity within our state in life: celibacy for the single, and sexual intimacy with openness to life and periods of mutual continence for the married. There is no state in life which does not require sacrifice in the arena of human sexuality, and that is not a bad thing, but we treat it as if it is an injustice!
Again, we are a community. We are called to live our lives faithfully to the call of Jesus Christ, in part so that our lives can strengthen those around us, both visibly and mystically. Are you upset by the goings-on among the clergy, but you’re contracepting? Throw out your contraception. It does matter. Are you thinking of leaving the Church because of the coverups, and you’re hiding in some room of your home regularly looking at porn? Quit the porn. It does matter. Are you upset by the emerging victims’ stories, but you’re carrying on that emotional affair with someone you know online or personally? End it NOW. It does matter. How discouraging it must be for a priest to know so many in his flock are ignoring Church teachings on so many issues. If we who have recourse to human intimacy cannot even live that out with chastity, how can we expect our priests to live lives of celibate chastity? But we do, and we should! But we need to support them as well, and we can do that through our own lives of chastity. Brothers and Sisters, this is NOT optional.
So YES, the unmasking needs to continue, so let us keep encouraging it, and talking (not bashing, but talking constructively and respectfully) amongst ourselves, supporting each other, lifting each other up, praying, and fasting…and let us live in our lives the chastity and authenticity we so long to see lived out in the lives of our priests and bishops. We owe it to them, for they’ve given their lives to bring us the Sacraments, but most of all, we owe it to God.
Lastly, if this has touched you, or encouraged you to make some sort of change for the better, consider dropping an anonymous line to your priest or bishop. Could you imagine what it would be like for your priests and bishops to receive letters from the faithful which said:
“Father, to live a more authentic Christian life, and in support of your vocation to celibacy, I have given up pornography. Thank you for your sacrifices for us.”
“Bishop, in order to live the authenticity we are all called to as followers of Jesus Christ, and in support of your vocation to celibacy, I have switched from artificial contraception to Natural Family Planning. Thank you for your sacrifices for us.”
How beautiful that would be.
God bless you, and God love you.