A couple of weeks ago a priest in Swampscott, Mass., just down the coast from here, was arrested for, according to police, in a restaurant soliciting a 12-year-old girl and her mother for sex. At the time, the whole thing sounded weird and I wondered what we weren’t being told. Now we know. The priest admitted to cops that he was so drunk at the time that he isn’t sure what he said.
Okay, people are allowed to make mistakes. The sinner can be forgiven. But I have to wonder: what was the quality of the ministry of a priest who went out drinking with a buddy, and got so drunk in a restaurant, no less, that he propositioned a woman and girl? Was this a regular occurrence? What about a priest capable of propositioning a girl and her mom, drunk or not?
I’m not being facetious. I really am wondering. I think many people compartmentalize their sin, leaving them able to put on a good show in the rest of their lives. I’ve had priests hint to me that most lay people would be surprised at the pervasiveness of sin, but also its elusiveness, i.e. the ability of most to function in society despite it, to be able to be righteous in most things even as they commit other sins. And I mean be righteous, not just put on a hypocritical facade.
I think some people who nodded knowingly when known dissenting priests were exposed as perverts were then taken aback when famously orthodox priests went down as well. “But, but …. he’s orthodox!,” they sputtered, as if that were a talisman against sin. Yet the particular sin of those priests never seemed to show itself in their preaching or other ministries.
So I wonder if that priest had a good pastoral quality, whether his homilies were good, and so on. Just wondering.