On my iPad yesterday there were some 16 boxes concerning rumors about the Church on the CNN app. You cannot watch the news on television without being bombarded by media speculation. I do not blame the media for covering this. It is a big story. I do think it is more than a little over reported and over analyzed. My concern is as a pastor and as a priest of this diocese where many good priests serve well each day. The Church is alive and well in our parishes. And yet we face a lot of challenges in winning people over to Sunday Mass in a society that now runs seven days a week.

I, for one, am very discouraged by these media reports. I am sure you are too. So many priests serve faithfully each day. They are not perfect. None of us are. But they are faithful. The ones who get the media attention are the ones who are not being faithful. This is not a matter of sexual orientation. This is a matter of being faithful to the vows one made to live a life of celibacy and chastity.

Many years ago, while on the faculty of the North American College, I said Mass on Mondays mornings for the Missionary Sisters of Charity. Often Mother Teresa was there. One time some seminarians came with me and met Mother Teresa after Mass. We were startled by what she said: “If you are not going to be holy, get out!”

Any of us can fail, but if a priest is living a double life and not being faithful to his vows, indeed, he should get out. It is said that the largest religious body in the United States are Catholics. And the second largest are former Catholics. It is very hard to be a parish priest and face the tidal wave of media reports that cause people to walk away from the Church. This is not simply a matter of purging our ranks of those who live a secret life of unfaithfulness. This is a challenge to every priest to live an extraordinary life of simplicity, humility, and holiness. The times demand no less. Jesus deserves more.

 

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