LA Catholic tells us about Fr. Bill Messenger, a priest of the Los Angeles archdiocese, who wrote in the National Catholic Reporter back in 1981, when he was ordained:
“I, for one, did not choose celibacy. I chose priesthood and accepted celibacy because there was no choice. I do not consider myself to have been free. There was simply no other way to be ordained.”
“We must face the truth that celibacy in the diocesan clergy is abnormal. As in any abnormal situation, the individual must seek compensation.”
For his troubles, Fr. Messenger was eventually sent to be chaplain at the University of Southern California (USC). He was well-loved there, probably not leat because of his articles and homilies that say that contraception and abortion and the usual litany of immoral objects is just okay with him and thus should be okay for the kids at USC. (Their mascot is the Trojan, you know.)
Given this track record, imagine my shock and surprise at hearing that Father Messenger has been suspended after a male student alleged he had engaged in “inappropriate physical contact.” (The LA Times story is the one that said it was a male student.)
The public statement is the typical psychobabble mishmash you’d expect to get from a bureaucracy, not from an institution of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church:
Both the archdiocese and the university have received a report about a serious violation of ministerial ethics and essential professional boundaries involving inappropriate physical conduct by our campus minister, Father Bill Messenger.”
Funny, but I don’t remember much talk in Scripture or the early Church fathers about “ministerial ethics,” “essential professional boundaries,” or “inappropriate physical conduct.” Lots of talk about sin though. The language is so bland, you could be talking about a basketball player making an intentional foul on the court.
While the archdiocesan review board investigates the allegation of inappopriate ... something, odds are that they won’t be investigating him for ministerial malpractice and heresy. What’s wrong with this picture?
“It’s good to see a pastor with a lot of the same views as college students - it makes it easier for college students to incorporate religion into their daily lives, and it encourages more students to attend mass,” said Brian Gendron, a member of the Catholic Trojans.
Which is the more Christ-like and orthodox priest: the one whose views are different from college students’ who nevertheless teaches them why it is better to conform oneself to Christ and His teachings or the one whose views are just like students’, is their pal, doesn’t confront them, and fills the pews for a guilt-free Mass? Thought so.
Anyway, what are we left with? A priest who said from the get-go that he didn’t choose celibacy and that it was forced on him ends up being accused of “inappropriate physical conduct” and boundary violations. Couldn’t see that coming.