A retired Catholic bishop says that asking him to visit the sick and dying 40 hours a month is asking too much. Bishop Thomas O’Brien, the convicted felon ex-bishop of Phoenix, also wants his travel time deducted from his 1,000 hours of community service. He says that out-of-town commitments make it too difficult to meet the demands of his probation.
For one thing, the community service is not a volunteer opportunity. It is punishment. Perhaps he’d have more time if instead of probation, he got actual jail time for leaving a man dying in the street after he struck him with his car.
For another thing, he’s retired. What exactly are these out-of-town commitments? As a retired bishop what else does he have to do other than minister to the faithful? If I were a priest or bishop convicted of a crime and was ordered to do what my vocation requires I do anyway, I would rejoice at the easy punishment. Instead, he complains that spending 1.3 hours per day doing the corporal works of mercy is too much. Visiting the imprisoned is a corporal work of mercy, too. Maybe he’d like to do that from the inside.