In the thread below on the priest who was arrested after making a drunken proposition to a woman and her 12-year-old daughter in a restaurant, the discussion has taken an interesting turn toward priests wearing their collar in public and excessive engagement in worldy pleasures, like drinking too much. It reminds me of the landmark article we published in Catholic World Report way back in November 2000, called “The Gay Priest Problem.” It was written by Fr. Paul Shaughnessy, a Marine Corps chaplain, and while on the face it’s about homosexuality in the priesthood, many of its lessons also apply generally to the priesthood. In a section called “What bishops can do” he recommends:
Restore simplicity to priestly life. Physical comfort is the oxygen that feeds the fires of homosexual indulgence. Cut it off. When you enter a rectory, take a look at the liquor cabinet, the videos, the wardrobe, the slick magazines, and ask yourself, “Do I get the impression that the man who lives here is in the habit of saying no to himself?” If the answer is negative, the chances are that his life of chastity is in disorder as well. It goes without saying that reforming bishops should lead by example in this department and not simply exhort.