Through the “Hope For Priests” website, this Blog, snail mail, email, phone calls and person to person contact, I hear about priests suffering in this unending climate of a cruel harshness not experienced in the Church since the Inquisition!
Rather than leading the Shepherds are being lead, by fear.
Fear of insurance claims, fear of lawyers, fear of the media, fear of loosing face, but apparently not fear of hurting the innocent further, the actual victims of abuse; apparently neither do they fear breaking the bruised reed of their priest sons, be these priests actually guilty or simply accused.
The American and Canadian Bishops in particular like to reference the various Constitutional and Charter rights and protections for citizens when assailing governments about use of the death penalty, treatment of GITMO detainees, actions towards refugee claimants, etc.
Yet these same Bishops tolerate, nay encourage, a climate of being guilty simply by accusation.
They consistently try and foist cases onto Rome rather than follow due process.
Everything is upside down when anonymous calls result in immediate dismissals or administrative leaves; when accusing bishops also sit as judges under canon 1720 or when they hide behind 223.2; when priests take suicide as seemingly their only recourse because despair has overwhelmed them.
We have created a climate that appears to disdain forgiveness while embracing vengeance; that belittles conversion in favour of a so-called zero-tolerance which is itself intolerant and cruel.
That sins against the innocent are intolerable, with this only a fool or a predator would disagree.
That Bishops, brother priests of the accused seem to have forgotten about the requirement to cast the first stone is scary.
You might say, “Whoa Fr. Arthur aren’t you casting a stone at the Bishops?”
Well I pray not, and if so it is only a wee pebble, just big enough to cause a ripple, a ripple to get their, your, mine, everyone’s attention.
Which guidelines will we follow and apply as this crisis in the Church and the Priesthood drags on and on?
The Holy Gospel teachings of Jesus – or – the lawyer-media driven pressure to exact punishment, payment?
To borrow from Shakespeare’s Shylock who, after exacting that “equal” pound of flesh, mused: “ ..what these Christians are whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect the thoughts of others!”
In this dark, dank atmosphere of a growing outlaw church, where fear and vengeance motivate; where under the guise of zero tolerance charity is lost, compassion abandoned, truth shredded, priests commit suicide, guilty priests languish unvisited in prison, and countless others, mostly without any due process are cast asunder to wander the unending desert of administrative leave, it is, I confess very hard to:
“…offer no resistance to one who is evil….love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you…” [cf. Mt. 5:38-48]
Yet that is Gospel reality, that is being Christ-like.
There is no desire in my heart for further harm for Holy Mother the Church, for any Bishop or Priest, for the laity.
Most important of all we must work tirelessly to end the horrific evil of abuse of children.
In truth, abusing due process, abusing the accused, surrendering to fear protects no child, terrifying priests will actually drive predators underground and make them more dangerous.
Surrendering to fear is a step into darkness where evil spirits dwell.
Christ IS our Light.
Fearlessly we should only be acting, examining accusations, making decisions, in the Light.
I beg everyone to pray that as I try and shine a light from time to time on the crisis in the priesthood, the pain of priests, the struggle for due process, I never fail to love and pray.