There are persecuted priests among us. No, not the perverts removed from ministry for molesting kids and others. I mean holy, orthodox, and faithful priests. And no, I’m not referring to priests jailed for the faith in totalitarian states like China and Vietnam. These are priests in the good ole US of A. They’re not being persecuted by state-sponsored thugs, but by their very own bishops. I’ve blogged about some of them before.
Now, Mary Ann Kreitzer of the Catholic Media Coalition puts it all together and gives us specific cases of priests punished by their bishops for pointing sinful behavior and other misconduct by brother priests, bishops, or laypeople, which is the sort of thing you’d expect priests to be doing.
How many ways do bad bishops punish good priests? Take your pick: exile, silencing, mandatory evaluation at pseudo-psychiatric facilities like St. Luke’s, frequent reassignment, making them permanent parochial vicars with no hope of becoming pastors, marginalization, driving them out (to other dioceses or the military vicariate), whispering campaigns that designate them “mentally unstable” or “unfit for ministry,” etc. The ultimate punishment, the bishop’s sword of Damocles, so to speak, is suspension. It hangs over the head of a good priest who knows his “spiritual father” will use it. How many orthodox priests hear variations of the threat, “You have no idea what I can do to you!” But the good priests do know. They’ve seen the sword fall on their brothers.
Some priests are punished for going public about homosexuality among their brethren. Others are smacked down because they don’t think fundraiser isn’t listed by St. Paul as one of the offices of the Church.
So what do we do? First, we pray for our priests and bishops. We ask the Holy Spirit to send us holy, faithful, and courageous clergy. Second, we wait. Eventually, it will become widely known which bishops abuse their priests and those bishops will get no new vocations. This is a good sign to the Vatican that Bishop So-and-So may need quick replacement upon reaching 75 (or a coadjutor before 75). Third, we can recognize the good priests in our midst and recommend them to the nuncio in Washington, DC, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, as episcopal material. Letters to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome wouldn’t hurt either. And we remain faithful. Whatever happens, the Church will survive. There’s no guarantee that the Church in any particular diocese or even any particular country (recall what has happened to Hippo, St. Augustine’s diocese), but the Church is much bigger than any group of Catholics and in the end it is the Lord who sees all, knows all, and remembers those who remain faithful to Him.
bk_keywords:priest, bishop, Catholic.