Priests Set Example of Compassionate Action

National Catholic Reporter
March 5, 2004

In recent months, this page has made note of groups of priests who, contrary to the atmosphere in much of the church today, have publicly raised some difficult questions.

From the priests in Boston who confronted the Vatican over the status of Cardinal Bernard Law, to the growing number of priests asking for wider discussion of mandatory celibacy, to priests who most recently voiced their serious objections to the language the church has used in speaking about homosexuals, some of our priests are providing a healthy example for the rest of the church.

So it seems appropriate to send a quick note of congratulations and thanks to the group of about 30 priests in Rapid City, S.D., diocese who have agreed to donate 5 percent of their monthly income to help pay for counseling for abusive priests and their victims ( see story).

The weeks ahead will be full of news about the reports from the National Review Board on the sex abuse crisis as well as speculation about what the church should do to end the crisis and heal the wounds that have been created.

South Dakota has had few incidents of sex abuse by priests over the years, but the example of its priests sends a large message -- their sorrow for what has gone on in the church is backed up by compassionate action.

One of the main complaints of victims during the past two decades is that no one listens to them and that their stories had no effect on the behavior of church leaders.

South Dakota priests apparently have heard. They don't make a lot of money, but the decision of some of them to donate money and fast and celebrate a weekly Mass to pray for healing is "a real demonstration of compassion that demonstrates what the church is about," according to Sue Archibald, founder of Linkup, a national support group for victims.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.