Guilt By Association

Feb 28, 2016

Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,

Last Sunday a parishioner asked me about the movie that is out about the Church's pedaphile scandal. She told me she had never been so ashamed of being a Catholic. (I know exactly how she feels.) She also asked/recommended that I see it. To be honest, I had not planned on it for the simple fact that I feel I lived, or am living it. Not only have I felt the same shame that most Catholics have felt, I have also suffered a lot of "guilt by association." When I first became a priest I was very self-conscious about accepting privileges just because I was a priest. And believe me, the temptations are many, and most come from very sincere people who are thankful for the priesthood.

Oh how things have changed! Not that there are not many people out there who are very generous and kind, but now more often than not I feel like I am on the defensive. It used to be that if I spoke to a child and I saw the look of a concerned adult, I would have responded with something like, "Oh, don't worry I am a priest." Not now! That would probably be the last thing I would say. Now I would have to explain that I've been to my bi-annual workshop and had my background check, etc. etc. All because of the actions of a handful of guilty priests, who did a horrendous thing, and another handful of bishops, who did something almost as shameful, in their refusal to deal with the crime. 

As I said, in one sense I live the movie. This week, our Redemptorist community here at The Rock, along with a bunch of other Redemptorists, gathered at Liguori for one of our regularly scheduled workshops on this issue. A big part of these workshops is to understand the disease and recognize some of the signs, so that we can see problems before they begin and hopefully help one another.

Yes, some might say that it isn't fair for the rest of us to suffer for the sins of a few. But did not Jesus, who was sinless, die for our sins? The Church is a community and when we turn our backs on the sinner we fail as a community and become irrelevant as a church. And so, we all need to learn the warning signs of this disease, as well as, other things that threaten our community, especially our children, that our community may remain healthy and strong and we may continue to walk in the Light of The Lord.

In the Redeemer,

Fr. Rick