TO THE EDITOR:
Bishop Tobin’s article When Preachers Fall From Grace (The Rhode Island Catholic, July 22, 2010) is right on target. The Catholic who leaves the Church because of the sins and frailties of priests is stupid, i.e. crassly foolish.
Do we condemn government because of crooked politicians? Do we ridicule mothers because of unworthy mothers? Do we deny the validity of a Mass celebrated by a priest who is a drunk, an active gay, or who has a mistress?
The Church is bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. Good priests have been tarnished by the unearthing of a sexual underworld in their ranks. The laity agonize over a minuscule number of wayward priests who now, at last, are being weeded out. The faults of the minister tend to lessen the credibility of his doctrine, but the Church has always made a distinction between the dignity of the office and the merits of the person holding the office. Parents should teach their children to do likewise. The soldier salutes not the person of General X but his rank; the twenty-gun salute is given to the President and not to Mr. Obama; the ring is kissed because it is a bishop’s ring and not because it is Thomas Tobin’s ring. The value of the position is not contained in its holder.
Persons who put faith in the preacher instead of the truthfulness of the preacher’s words are being irrational. The effects of original sin are with us always. People, being human, often disappoint. Truth prevails.
There is a moral obligation for every priest to be worthy of the office he holds, for as the Bible states: “A fool set in high dignity will be the ruin of his people.” But the priesthood is a gift that the Blessed Lord has given the Church and love for Christ is shown when the faithful cherish that gift by praying and encouraging vocations to the priesthood.
Rev. Joseph L. Lennon, O.P.
St. Thomas Aquinas Priory,