St. John Chrysostom, I am told, said that the floor of hell is carpeted with the skulls of priests. I have never located the source. Nonetheless, when we hear our Lord’s words about millstones and those who deserve them, and we hear his words about “to whom much is given” et cetera, it seems that some—no, a great deal—of trembling is in order. Priests, especially, should be terrified by these admonitions. The opportunities for either spectacular glory (not the world’s kind) or spectacular peril (also not the world’s kind) confront, each and every day, every single ordained man of the Catholic Church. A good sign that a priest grasps the reality of his responsibility and the price of failure is that he makes a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament each day.
And the Catholic laity must, must, must pray for priests every single day. The devil hates priests. He wants nothing more than to hand them over simultaneously to the disdain of the world and to the eternal pains of hell. Satan does not tire. Reports of the moral failings of clergy, from parish priests to princes of the Church, continue to embarrass the Church and discourage the faithful, and they remind us of our obligation to pray for priests, for their sake, and for the sake of those whose lives they touch for better or for ill, the seen and the unseen.
In all the chaos of disgraced cardinals on both sides of the Atlantic, you may have missed the unhappy news that a well respected and very well placed member of the clergy of an important East Coast diocese was accused a month or so ago of running a nationwide operation that peddled illegal methamphetamine’s Also, he has been accused of laundering the money from said sales in a shop that vends devices designed to facilitate the practice of deviance. Alas, the charges continue: This priest is alleged to have indulged in these selfsame deviance’s in the company of other men in his rectory.
(I do not provide a link to the story for the very reason that even by mentioning it I risk provoking the fallen appetite for prurience that St. Augustine called “lust of the eyes” that has been exponentially exacerbated by the Internet.)
Should the sordid tale prove not to be a giant misunderstanding, it will be another terrible scandal the Church will have to bear and one that will shake the faith of who can say how many Catholics.
When I hear stories like this one, my go-to line is usually Belloc’s observation that the proof that the Catholic Church is a divine institution is that since the Crucifixion she has been thriving in spite ofthe shortcomings of those to whom our Lord entrusted her care. Nonetheless, this particular priest’s alleged behavior is disheartening. The debauchery of Pope Alexander VI, for example, who kept a few mistresses and arranged for positions for the children he sired, seems mild alongside our own age’s deviance.
Making matters more discouraging is that, in a very real sense, clerical deviance and its immediate victims are really the tip of the iceberg. In the case of the meth-dealing priest, his position, influence, and stature in his diocese cannot help but mean that the harm he caused is greater than we know. He was secretary to two bishops, and rector of the cathedral. It is anybody’s guess how much unseen damage this man did from these positions of diocesan authority. How many good priests did he prevent from becoming pastors? How many heretics did he see appointed to the diocesan schools? How much irreverent liturgy did he cause or permit, and how much good liturgy did he hinder? How many good vocations did he discourage?
How many souls did not get sound Catholic teaching or solid spiritual direction because of this priest? We really have no idea of the spiritualwreckage in the wake of this man’s career.
Pray for the victims of clerical sexual abuse. Pray for the priests whose transgressions have caused so much harm. Pray for the ordinaries who either deliberately concealed or turned a blind eye to the sins of their clergy.
And pray for the Catholics, whose number is known only to God, who suffered—some in ignorance, some in painfully acute awareness—the deception, scheming, irreverence, and heresy of clergy whose intellects and wills, intended for the service of God, were disfigured by their horrifying sins.
“(I do not provide a link to the story for the very reason that even by mentioning it I risk provoking the fallen appetite for prurience that St. Augustine called “lust of the eyes” that has been exponentially exacerbated by the Internet.)”
….nevertheless, Mr. Check, thanks for the timely tip. I’ll find and check the link myself.
“The debauchery of Pope Alexander VI, for example, who kept a few mistresses and arranged for positions for the children he sired, seems mild alongside our own age’s deviance.”
…”Mild” alongside today’s carryings-on?
Do you really think so, Mr. Check? I think not.
You might argue that Alexander’s debauchery was be no more egregious than today’s, (although I personally think it clearly was) but it’s certainly no better, or milder.
More Catholic paranoid imaginings. Suggests Toad, mildly. (And what if the priest in question is actually innocent? No chance, according to Check’s paragraphs 7 and 8.)
“Corruptio optimi pessimum est“, says the proverb: ‘the corruption of the best is the worst’.
I know, we’ve mentioned this proverb before on CP&S, but never was it more pertinent than in the case of the corruption of priests. They, the most beloved of God, bestowed with the greatest number of ‘talents’ (as per the Gospel parable) have such great responsibility for the welfare of souls.
When they fall – and of course, I’m not referring to inconsequential sins – they drag down so many innocents with them, as Christopher Check illustrates so well. (Jesus’ warning of giving scandal and the millstone etc., also come to mind!)
“To Save a Thousand Souls” is a beautiful book on the vocation of the priesthood, written by Fr. Brett Brannen. Though even he admitted, in an interview on EWTN about his book, that “a thousand” is just a number quoted at random, and this could be far far greater over the long life of a faithful priest!! Is it any wonder that the devil, who seeks man’s destruction, hates priests with a venom, constantly devising ways (temptations) to trick and destroy them?
Prayer for Priests is a vital duty for all of us who love God and His Holy Church.
Well, I know I might get ‘spanked’ by Jabba and/or Rabit for mentioning the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Garabandal again ;-): [N.B. these apparitions have not been certified as authentic by the Holy Catholic Church….. (yet?)] but the most compelling factor of these supposed apparitions are the messages of the Virgin to the girls about the urgent need to pray and make sacrifices constantly for priests! This message: ““Many Cardinals, many Bishops, and many Priests are on the path of perdition and they take many souls with them”, was one that caused great consternation to everyone in the Church at the time (the 60’s), i.e. before many of the later sex scandals were brought to light.
I commented on the Garabandal article (linked below): “If Our Lady did truly appear to these four girls at this time, her messages that were mainly aimed at transmitting the urgent need to pray incessantly for priests (and of the dire consequences that would follow for those priests who abuse their sacred ministry) would appear to be wholly appropriate and visionary.”
P.S. I think it is still important to remember that the vast majority of priests are ‘faithful workers in the vineyard of the Lord’. We, the laity, should love, support, cherish and defend them (against attacks), for without them, where would we be?
“Many Cardinals, many Bishops, and many Priests are* on the path of perdition and they take many souls with them…”
..so you are asserting that many Cardinals, Bishops and Priests were already “at it” way back then, Kathleen? That this epidemic is at least half a century old, and maybe considerably older than that, and that the Vatican and Co., successfully managed to keep the lid screwed down until just a couple of years ago?
*Not, .“…will be on the path of perdition in 50 year’s time”
“..so you are asserting that many Cardinals, Bishops and Priests were already “at it” way back then, Kathleen?”
No, I don’t think so Toad. I believe most of the abuse cases we have sadly had splashed all over the newspapers in the last couple of decades were committed from the 60’s and 70’s, and were unfortunate consequences of the sexual revolution. In a way it affected everyone in the West who lived through this crazy period. “Make love, not war” was the slogan then, wasn’t it?
That is why Our Lady’s supposed warnings to the four girls at Garabandal could be seen to be prophetic.
“Make love, not war” was the slogan then, wasn’t it?” ..indeed it was, Kathleen, and a pretty disgusting slogan at that.
Who on earth would want to make love sooner than make war?
Nobody in their right minds, that’s who.
Who also agrees that the abuses themselves were bad enough , but the fact that they were “splashed all over the newspapers,” was unforgiveable. Looked so bad.
“All we are saying is give war a chance.”
John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, 1969
No time to look up the exact lyrics right now, but I think that’s right.
But seriously, this is a seriously sad story. I looked up the background to this post (Christopher Check’s admonition about “lust for the eyes” is an important one, which is why I never read stories about vicious local crimes, but we’re talking about the Catholic Church here, and it’s incumbent on everyone of us to know what’s going on) and could hardly believe how badly this priest has lost the plot and fallen so far. But, why should I/we be so shocked? The Church is a huge institution and, truth be told, there must be dark, dank dungeons in it that we can never even imagine. Our task is to expose them all and clean them out. And yes, we should pray constantly for priests, as Kathleen reminds is our vital duty, even those of them who have hurt or abused others, most especially our young, although frankly, I must say that wicked priests, as much as they are as *deserving* of God’s mercy as me (by which I mean not one of us deserves God’s mercy), they’re down at the bottom of my dance card. First and foremost, we must pray for their victims
Well it wasn’t “love” at all, was it Toad? Do I need to tell you what it really was? 😳
And anyway, why should it be only either one or the other? A slogan fit for the stupid sixties mentality methinks. 😉
Your darling Media “splashed” the stories over the papers that were most damaging to the Catholic Church (omitting most other church’s/religion’s/institution’s failings) – not that many of them weren’t true though.
Many believe this was the “smoke of Satan” Pope Paul VI referred to.
Re: John Henry‘s comment…… I think for the priest in question to have “fallen so far”, it could only have happened if he had totally lost his faith. Thus he probably had no bad conscience about what he was doing – harming so many people, whilst leading a double life.
As Pope Francis says: “When one no longer serves God, one serves the Devil”…… wise words!
Your darling Media “splashed” the stories over the papers that were most damaging to the Catholic Church (omitting most other church’s/religion’s/institution’s failings)”
Darling media. That’s nice. Doesn’t get complimented on CP&S very often, Kathleen. And everybody should be somebody’s darling, right?
But try to get your head around about a few things here – how is it possible to tell which stories will ultimately be the “most damaging” to Catholics? Better to do as the Darling Media does and try to run them all, and see how it pans out.
That’s what really happens. And the Darling, or alternatively Loony*, media makes no special allowances for Catholics, whatever you choose to think. The Darling treats all the gratifyingly frequent and clearly unending religious scandals with equal and appropriate enthusiasm.
A venal and revolting old Baptist preacher is just as good copy as a naughty old Catholic priest to them.
And rightly so. So, take your foot off the paranoia pedal.
Because In all my “working” life I’ve never once heard anyone say, “Must run this story – it’ll be most damaging to the Catholics, but’s let’s not run this one, it might upset the Lutherans.” But maybe you have heard of such things, Kathleen Sewing circle gossip, and whatever.?
*Copyright. Golden, 2013.
On reflection, I must admit to one exception, in my own case, with regard to the darling loony media’s ruthless, vicious and ceaseless campaign of religious persecution, mostly of Catholics.
And it does not involve catholics.
I admit I did make a gleeful point of giving stories involving the sexual frolics of TV evangelists special and “splashy” prominence.
But I justified that by saying these dingbats were also media, and almost household, names.
Do calm down Toad. It’s you who’s showing “paranoia” here.
I was teasing you when I called the Media “your darling”. Just a bit of a taste of your own medicine. 😉
(Actually, I’m quite surprised that you, of all people, could be so touchy!)
WARNING: Don’t criticise the Media anyone – Toad will get stroppy.
Thanks for your habitual charitable concern, Kathleen, but Toad takes nothing seriously and regards nothing as sacred, least of all The Darling Loony Media*.
It’s all a great joke to him.
Always has been, ever since The Darling was rash enough to offer him paid employment. And thus save him having to do a proper job, (of which he would be
*Correction: Make that – least of all religion; next of all, the Darling Loony etc.,
So, carry on teasing!
“Toad takes nothing seriously and regards nothing as sacred…”
Your loss then. Now you’re even beginning to make me feel really sorry for you, old chum!
Back on topic……. I am encouraged by the already frequent mentions Pope Francis (of Jesuit training) has made of the Devil. It is a clear sign that Pope Francis is well aware of the spiritual warfare being raged around us; and most particularly these attacks of the Devil will be directed towards what is most holy and sacred – the Catholic Church and her ministers (priests, bishops etc.)
Here is an excerpt from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola:
“It is proper to the evil Angel, who forms himself under the appearance of an angel of light, to enter with the devout soul and go out with himself: that is to say, to bring good and holy thoughts, conformable to such just soul, and then little by little he aims at coming out drawing the soul to his covert deceits and perverse intentions.”
A beautiful and well-known prayer for priests:
O Jesus, Eternal Priest, look down with love upon Thy priests. Fill them with burning zeal for the conversion of sinners. Keep them within the shelter of Thy Sacred Heart. Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Thy Sacred Body. Keep unsullied their lips purpled with Thy precious Blood. Keep pure and unearthly their hearts sealed with the sublime marks of Thy glorious Priesthood. Let Thy holy love protect them from the world’s contagion. Bless their labours with abundant fruit, and may the souls to whom they minister here on earth be one day their ioy and consolation in heaven. Amen.
Of course The Devil exists. We’ve all got one.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
People making money out of telling half truths, spreading scandal, and gossip!
Good prayer Kathleen. I’ve changed Layola to Loyola btw 😉
unless there’s another saint I haven’t heard of!
BB @ 10:33
Watch out Burrito…… you are going to get an exceedingly stroppy Toad coming after you! 😉
BB @ 10:35
Thank you for the corrected spelling…… I always struggled with spelling tests at school, and nothing’s changed.
I feel your pain, Kathleen, although in my case it was arithmetic tests. I never met one I could pass without a crib sheet.
“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
People making money out of telling half truths, spreading scandal, and gossip!”
Well, the alternative was to get a proper job, Burro.
And Toad would have been no good at that.
(Insert smiley/rueful face.)