Judas Priests and Judas Bishops
By Kevin Thomas
September 12, 2018
I attended a Catholic seminary from 1978 to 1980 and …
No, I don’t have any lurid stories to share.
I believe I’m in the majority among seminarians but, obviously, there are problems … in seminaries and parishes. Another wave of sexual abuse scandals is rocking the Catholic Church in the United States. From Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s predator past being exposed, to a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing hundreds of clerical abusers, to the latest accusations of a papal cover-up.
What is a Catholic to do? I mean, besides becoming saddened, frustrated, and angrier than words can describe.
For a practicing Catholic, leaving the Church is never been an option. This is not a club. We did not sign on because of fallible men, but because of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. We believe God’s presence is in our churches. If not, why would we bother?
Modern Catholic writer Eve Tushnet, who often delivers sincerity and clarity in her works, writes:
“There are times when words fail, when prayers don’t come, when you have no idea how to live in gratitude for a life which seems consumed by confusion, injustice, or suffering. In those times, the silence of the Eucharist can be great solace. Simply being present with Him is enough.”
There are times, like when I read again of evil in our church, I must simply sit in a chapel, before the tabernacle. A great solace, indeed.
Some call for a boycott of donations to the church. Hit them in the wallet, so to speak. Legatus, a Catholic association of powerful business owners, announced that it is withholding its annual contribution to the Vatican – $820,000 – putting it in escrow during the current scandal. The group is not leaving the Church – “We certainly pledge our continued devotion to Holy Mother Church, and recognize the tithe has been an important commitment of Legatus … However, in light of recent revelations and questions, we believe it appropriate to respectfully request clarification regarding the specific use of these funds,” wrote the group’s chairman, Thomas Monaghan (founder of Dominos).
I appreciate Legatus’s stance and, hopefully, its action will get the Vatican’s attention. As for me, I will continue my humble contributions to my simple parish. I love my parish and I would like to help keep the lights on, and the heating fuel delivered.
Legatus’s letter also refers to a hope – which we all have – that light will shine in this darkness. Monaghan writes:
“We are certainly blessed with the leadership of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the [U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops], who has called for a ‘prompt and thorough examination,’ into how the recently uncovered moral and ecclesiastical failings have persisted and what steps are to be taken to remedy this indescribably difficult situation.”
So, what steps will be taken?
So far, the Vatican has not responded to Cardinal DiNardo. Of course, Pope Francis is under the spotlight, with a former high-ranking Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Carlos Vigano, making several accusations, including the charge that Francis knew of McCarrick’s evil ways and did nothing or, worse, lifted what restrictions were on the then-cardinal.
My editor, among others, called for Francis’s resignation (a request I do not agree with, at the moment). But I would like to hear from the Holy Father. He has said nothing about the allegations; and nothing about what actions are being taken, to clean up the filth that infects Holy Mother Church.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Blaise Cupich of Chicago defended Francis, saying these allegations by Vigano are nothing and, in a television interview, stated:
“The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things. Of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the church.”
Cupich has since declared his words were taken out of context and, in a diocesan-wide spin control, had his priests defend him in their sermons.
I am not interested in spin. And while the environment and migrants are important, the “work of the church” includes the holiness of her people. The church, that is so infected, is hindered in that work.
I am blessed in Maine. I have a caring bishop, and have thrived in my relationships with parish and campus priests, whether it be in the confessional or over a cup of coffee.
One such priest, Father Seamus Griesbach, wrote:
“[There are] despicable and wicked clerics who prey on the innocent and betray everything that they are called to serve, [removing] themselves from the communion of the Church through their actions. Yes, they reside within the Body of Christ, but they are as much members of the body as a pile of cancerous tumors would be. Yes, they share the same priesthood as many good and holy priests, but they betray everything that it is and should be. They are Judas priests. Judas bishops. Their presence around the supper of the Lamb is a scandal and an outrage and an abomination.”
I am grateful for Peter priests and Paul bishops. They understand we are all fallen. They do not look for spin and cover-ups, but truth and redemption.
Paul wrote (in 2 Corinthians 12:9): “[Jesus] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”