|What would Jesus do in the face of evil and injustice?|
Because I love unborn children I've spent most of my adult life fighting for them. We offered a shelter home to unwed moms, I prayed and sidewalk counseled outside abortion stores, and went to jail three times for rescuing. I gave hundreds of pro-life talks. My pro-life commitment included teaching NFP (Natural Family Planning) for twenty years encouraging couples to use the method to plan to have children! My husband and I often taught infertile couples hoping to maximize their chances of conception.
Why did I do all those things? Because I felt like those precious little ones being murdered were my own children's brothers and sisters -- not just figuratively, but really.
When I held a saved baby I looked into the eyes of one of my own children and rejoiced!
And now when I see our good priests, our FATHERS IN FAITH, persecuted and spiritually murdered, I hunger and thirst for justice for them. They aren't just generic spiritual fathers, they are my father!
So what made me so angry?
...from a gentleman who wrote to me about a priest with whom he'd corresponded (whom I won't name, although I expect some people will guess who he is). The man sought advice from this priest about a serious matter after reading an article Father wrote. Then he came across the bishop's letter about the priest and, because the priest "admitted" to some "vague" accusation, the man's is no longer confident that he can trust the priest's advice any more. You know what they say, "Where there's smoke there's fire." He must be guilty. The bishop wouldn't publish that letter if the priest wasn't guilty...right? And the priest wouldn't admit to anything if he weren't guilty...right?
THIS IS THE EVIL, LONG-TERM EFFECT OF LIES AND SLANDER!
Yes, predators must be accused and brought to justice! But does anyone believe there are no people who will falsely accuse?
Think of these cases: the Duke lacrosse team falsely accused of gang rape, Nicholas Sandmann falsely accused of harassing a Native American activist known for lying, Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas falsely accused of sex abuse, Robert Bork falsely accused of...who knows what by those consummate liars Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy.
Shall I go on?
How about slandered saints. Gerard Majella was accused of fathering a child, removed from ministry until the woman admitted she lied. Padre Pio accused of fraud and pretense. The worst thing about slander is that it often leaves a cloud of doubt pursuing the person throughout the rest of his or her life. Wasn't he really guilty of...something...anything?
The priest in question was slandered big time. His teenage accuser admitted to lying. Any evidence exonerating him didn't matter to the chancery who ignored contacts from witnesses solicited to defame the priest who refused. He was thrown under the bus by the bishop. Why? Well, I can't read the bishop's heart or know his motives, but judging from other actions he's taken I can make an educated guess. He doesn't like trouble. He doesn't like to be embarrassed. He cares a lot about the opinion of others. He wanted to show how quick he is to respond to a..."boundary violation."
Yes...a "boundary violation." And yet many people commenting on the situation on articles and my own blog, talked about the accusation as if the priest was among the worst sexual predators, raping and molesting. Even the accusers didn't go so far in their lies as to accuse him of doing anything worse than hugging to much and making people feel uncomfortable.
And yes, the priest admitted to....something... a very vague something...after the diocese went around soliciting accusers at all his former parishes, one of which was extremely liberal. I expect there were many at that particular parish who disliked this orthodox priest and would gladly trash him. They drove away another good priest who ended up at my parish next door. Unlike the other parish, mine was orthodox. I don't think (and pray) that we never damaged a priest even the bad ones we got, and we had several. One liberal left to get married and another spent a fortune of the parish's money renovating the rectory, buying expensive furniture, and hiring a masseur to come to the parish to give him massages.
Memories sufficient to give one the shivers.
Despite it all, our parish remained faithful.
The next door parish, on the other hand, persecuted good priests unmercifully! Because of the problems, there was a very open exchange of parishioners. The liberals left our parish to go there, the orthodox left their parish to come to ours.
Bishops are generally astute enough to match priests to parishes. So the faithful parishes usually get faithful, orthodox priests, the raging liberal parishes get the social justice lobbyists. Mismatching often has disastrous results.
One orthodox priest who got sent to a liberal parish to try to fix things ended up with a heart attack. In another situation, a priest friend told me he was baffled by the assignment of a brother priest to a notoriously liberal parish. His immediate thought was that the priest was being "set up." Within a short time a confrontation did, indeed, take place and the priest was thrown under the bus by the bishop. He fought (I helped raise money for him) and took the case to Rome, but ended up paying a serious health price with a neurological condition that sent him into early retirement.
I wish I could publish the email exchange I had with this gentleman that raised my blood pressure, but it wouldn't be prudent. I told him about bishops' ability to exercise clerical blackmail against their spiritual sons. They hold all the cards! This most recent case reminded me of what my former Bishop, Paul Loverde, said to Fr. James Haley before he spiritually murdered him. "You have no idea what I can do to you!" That's the power of bishops. If they are good and walk in the footsteps of Jesus, their sons are blessed. If they care too much about human respect and the opinion of the world....well, their spiritual sons need to watch their backs. Sad, isn't it?
So I beg for your prayers and spiritual sacrifices: for our bishops, for our clergy, and especially for falsely accused priests.
And let me leave you with one more case where a serious slander impacted personal friends.
My husband and I knew this family for years. I was edified by their compassion and charity. They had a big family themselves, but were long-time foster parents. Dozens of children had passed through their home. They always had room to welcome more into their circle and nurture them. I admired them tremendously.
Then they got a street wise teenager who knew how to work the system. She'd had an abortion the week before she was placed. She came home from school crying one afternoon and the husband made the mistake of comforting her with a hug. His wife was in the kitchen only a few feet away. But the girl wanted out of their home (I think she didn't like their rules), and so she accused him of molesting her. She'd made false accusations against her own dad that the system ignored, but they immediately took action against our friend. Not only that, the social worker who had worked with this wonderful family for years told the wife she wasn't sure her husband didn't do it.
What a betrayal! Presumed guilty by someone who knew their history of kindness and generosity. (Think of how priests betrayed by their bishops must feel! Especially when they know how diligent bishops were to cover up real crimes and predation against children!)
After several agonizing months, our friend decided, for the sake of his suffering family, not to fight the accusation by going to court. He accepted a plea bargain that put him on a public list of sex offenders. I could as easily believe he hurt that child as that my own husband did. I remember seeing my friend one afternoon, sitting on the dock along a river all alone praying and suffering in silence. It made me think of the agony in the garden.
And that is what slander does!
Please pray that the falsely accused priest is returned to ministry soon. Too many haven't been! And pray for all the falsely accused priests. Some are sidelined by their bishops; proved innocent, but never returned to ministry. God forgive those bishops!
Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy, intercede for justice for your spiritual sons. And give us the wisdom to recognize the good priests among us as well as the deceivers.