Friday, June 11, 2010

More Like a Soccer Match ...

Interesting comment by the LA Times reporter. The pope was celebrating mass with 10,000 priests to mark the climax of the year of the priest. The Holy Father did address the abuse crisis at some length. Rocco has the text here. The priest in attendance, quite possibly the largest gathering of priests ever, showed their encouragement and support for him and his office. It seemed strange to the reporter that such loud displays of affection would be given to the Vicar of Christ when we all know sports arenas are the more proper place to behave that way.

It is interesting the point the pope made in his homily. That the year of the priests could have been focused on the human talent of the priests. We have many wonderful priests and we could easily have made that the central message. But the rehashing of the sex scandals made that impossible. When people were talking about such unholy acts by priests nobody could respond by saying their parish priest gives wonderful homilies. The focus had to move to the priest's holiness that transcends his personal holiness. The grace he has to bring us God through the sacraments.

The point is this is a good thing for us to focus on. We are always better focusing on God than on man. So we can count it a blessing when the human weaknesses of priests are highlighted. That just makes clear that if God is not real the priesthood makes no sense. Here is a quote:

It was to be expected that this new radiance of the priesthood would not be pleasing to the "enemy"; he would have rather preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world. And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light – particularly the abuse of the little ones, in which the priesthood, whose task is to manifest God’s concern for our good, turns into its very opposite. We too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again; and that in admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation and make every effort to accompany priests along their journey, so that the Lord will protect them and watch over them in troubled situations and amid life’s dangers. Had the Year for Priests been a glorification of our individual human performance, it would have been ruined by these events. But for us what happened was precisely the opposite: we grew in gratitude for God’s gift, a gift concealed in "earthen vessels" which ever anew, even amid human weakness, makes his love concretely present in this world.

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