Thursday 21st February 2019

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

How Many Good Priests Did We Lose?

September 23, 2018 Frontpage No Comments


On pilgrimage in Nazareth, I had the opportunity to spend time with Archbishop Joseph T. Ryan in 1999, just a year before he passed. Ryan was responsible for the construction of many of the refugee camps in the Holy Land during the 1950s with the Pontifical Mission for Palestine before eventually moving on to shepherd the Military Archdiocese of Washington.
He was older, but still every bit the old Marine who stormed the beaches of Okinawa. Unfortunately, the hill that we had to walk to get to the Basilica of the Annunciation was too steep, and I and one other pilgrim stayed behind to sit in the shade and drink water.
Ryan and I chatted for some time. I don’t recall much of the conversation. What I do recall is that after the rest of the group came from the basilica, our priest came over the intercom and said that Ryan wanted to thank the two young gentlemen who stayed behind with him.
“He says he thinks he sees a vocation in those two, but definitely the bearded one.”
I had the beard.
Naturally my heart leapt to my throat. That was the reason I was on pilgrimage, after all. Yet back home when recounting this to a spiritual director, I was told very much otherwise. Too rigid, an immature faith…but always there was the hint in these conversations about sexual ethics. Where do you stand on homosexuality? Where do you stand on married clergy? Questions more political than faithful in hindsight.
Exploring a priestly or religious vocation can be one of the most powerful and humbling encounters of a person’s life, if for no other reason than one is quite literally laying his entire self before Christ and exclaiming with the Blessed Mother the same fiat — “Be it done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).
Mary’s fiat is juxtaposed with the beginning of the Gospel of John, where the “Word became flesh” (John 1:1). Note quickly the capitalization, for where in John the logos becomes flesh, in Luke we have the word rhema which has the connotations of a birthing or “hearing of faith” as is described in Gal. 3:2-5.
This birthing of faith through the spoken word is precisely what we are called to do in any vocation. When one explores a vocation, there is a faithfulness and fidelity that is implied in what St. John Paul II said was a total self-giving, a presentation of the self to a consecrated other that was unique, devoted, and singular.
Most of us will identify this experience of being head-over-heels within the confines of the Sacrament of Marriage, or at the very least its pursuit. The Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges used to quip that falling in love was creating a religion with a fallible god, yet for those experiencing a calling to the religious life, we were falling in love with the God.
We here at The Wanderer received quite a few letters regarding my own reflections on being passed over during the discernment process for the priesthood. These experiences are intensely personal; few people recount them if for no other reason than it is so much more painful than the separation from a spouse. If our spouses are indeed fallible gods, imagine how one must feel having come to the very precipice of offering yourself entirely in service to the Living God only to be told by a spiritual director that you are simply “too rigid” in your adherence to the Catholic Catechism’s instruction on homosexuality.
When the criticism is leveled, it comes entirely out of left field. Other things occupy your mind during a formation period, such as the willingness to sacrifice family for the even larger family of a parish, a devout focus on the Holy Eucharist, whether one is even worthy to say Holy Mass, learning to pray with the Church through the Divine Liturgy . . . its introduction is like a spear through the mind; the dismissal is as if God held you in His hand during a time of a crisis of vocations and found you unworthy of the calling.
For those of us who moved on to a different vocation, it is entirely incorrect to say that we made the wrong decision, or that we are less happy in our outcomes. My wife is incredible, my kids are tremendous.
Yet for those of us who heard the calling to the religious life and were pushed away, there is always a small voice that whispers before it speaks in low tones. Were we destined for a different life? Catholic men will mention this privately to one another as their children throw red solo cups across a yard and scarf down hot dogs and hamburgers.
One respondent mentioned that he too was castigated with the accusations of “rigidity and immaturity” and counseled by his spiritual director that what he needed was to make love — a lot. Sound familiar? There are a few hundred men shaking their heads at this right now.
More often than not, the same stories keep rectifying your own, and it always seems to come back to the sort of sexual grooming that one hears about in the pages of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.
As of this writing, Cardinal Wuerl is en route to the Vatican to ask Pope Francis to take up his letter of resignation again, the same one he was canonically required to submit at the age of 75. Perhaps Wuerl can be taken at face value as the man who had to get his hands dirty in order to clean up the sins of the past — one who, like Cardinal Spellman before, chose discretion over holiness.
Yet Mary’s fiat has much to offer us. The logos become flesh means that we have a reasonable God; Mary’s fiat is a contradiction to the world. Yet through her word, this rhema, the entire world was redeemed. Not because she did what discretion demanded, but because she did what was faithful and — at least in the eyes of a world that has never understood faith — unreasonable.
This is the purpose of a vocation — it should make us exposed to holiness, not be a retreat from the world. Such vocations enable us to become who we are.
For myself and the countless others who were refused the tremendous grace of serving a priestly vocation due to our “rigidity and immaturity,” there is confidence in the fact that we were not alone in our fiat to God. If we are truly undergoing a chastisement — and it certainly seems as if we are in the beginning stages of one — then we have all the more duty to live our vocations as faithfully as we can. It is the only way our rhema can become Logos.

+ + +

Pope Francis mentions in a homily that our priests and bishops involved in scandal are being attacked by the “Great Accuser” — implying that our concerns here in the United States and elsewhere over sexual abuse against the laity and our seminarians spring from a satanic source.
This unholy trinity of unity, discernment, and silence is precisely the nonsense that we heard in 2002. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus argued back then that the response should have been fidelity, fidelity, fidelity. Christ warned us that He came not to bring peace to the world but a sword (Matt. 10:34). Shockingly enough, in the verses immediately afterward? Christ discusses the conditions for discipleship: “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37-39).
That’s not an accusation; it is Gospel. Certainly there is room for contrition and forgiveness, but there should be no room for treating symptoms while refusing to address cures. Pope Francis has to see this — shouldn’t he?

+ + +

Of course, I am succeeding (but not replacing) the inestimable Mr. James K. Fitzpatrick for the First Teachers column. Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to:

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Load More...

Pope picks liberal cardinals Cupich, Marx, Tagle for featured talks at Vatican Abuse Summit

ROME, February 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany, and Cardinal Antonio Tagle of the Philippines will be featured speakers at the Vatican’s upcoming summit on clerical sex abuse titled, “The Protection of Minors…Continue Reading


RAPID CITY, S.D. ( – A bishop is calling a Catholic apostolate “evil” for being critical of Cdl. Blase Cupich. Bishop Robert Gruss of Rapid City, South Dakota issued a statement to be read from all parish pulpits the weekend of Feb. 9–10 condemning…Continue Reading

The Christian Faith: The only valid and the only God-willed religion

The Truth of the filial adoption in Christ, which is intrinsically supernatural, constitutes the synthesis of the entire Divine Revelation. Being adopted by God as sons is always a gratuitous gift of grace, the most sublime gift of God to…Continue Reading

Roberts joins Supreme Court’s liberal wing in blocking Louisiana abortion law

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Supreme Court’s liberal wing on Thursday in temporarily blocking a Louisiana law that would have placed restrictions on abortion clinics, in the high court’s first major ruling on abortion since the confirmation of Associate Justice…Continue Reading

Supermodel Takes On Catholic Poland With Sex Education Campaign

Supermodel Anja Rubik could be a symbol of any modern, progressive European country. After joining a campaign to defend women’s rights, she started tackling school sex education and published a book for teenagers that sought to counter the teachings of…Continue Reading

Cardinals endorse campaign to stop homosexual networks in Church

February 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller – the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – commented on a recently launched campaign to Stop homosexual networks in the Catholic Church as organized by the Swiss organization…Continue Reading

Back on Twitter, Bishop Tobin rebukes Catholic pols who support abortion rights

PROVIDENCE — After a months-long hiatus, Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence has returned to Twitter to pointedly remind Rhode Island’s Catholic legislators — and the state’s Catholic governor — of his “track record on dealing with pro-abort…Continue Reading

US bishop rebukes Virginia Governor for ‘staggering’ infanticide remarks

ARLINGTON, Virginia, January 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The staunchly pro-lifeCatholic Bishop of Arlington, Virginia, has strongly rebuked pro-infanticidecomments made earlier this week by Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam. Bishop Michael Burbidge today called Northam’s comments a “staggering admission” that reveals just “how far abortion…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: ‘We must provide sex education in schools’

ROME, January 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis is advocating sex education in schools, saying he believes children “must” be taught “objective” lessons about human sexuality that aren’t “soaked with ideological colonization.” During an inflight press conference on his return…Continue Reading

Trump blasts Virginia Democrats for defending infanticide

January 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump lambasted Virginia Democrats for supporting abortion up until, during, and even after birth, calling Delegate Kathy Tran’s comments on her bill permitting abortion even as a woman goes into labor “terrible.” Virginia…Continue Reading

Catholic Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo Vows to Sign Bill Legalizing Abortions Up to Birth

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is pushing a radical pro-abortion bill in her state while claiming to be Catholic. The legislation, which contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church, would legalize abortions for basically any reason up to birth. A…Continue Reading

Undiscovering Columbus: Notre Dame President Puts Explorer Under Wraps

The University of Notre Dame has capitulated to several left-of-center causes and ideologies that threaten its reputation as the premier Roman Catholic college in the nation. The most recent submission to contemporary ideologies is the decision to cover the murals…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Dubia cardinals to bishops at Vatican abuse summit: ‘Will you also be silent?’


VATICAN, February 19, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, the two remaining dubia cardinals, wrote an open letter to the Presidents of the worldwide Bishops’ Conferences meeting in the Vatican for the Summit on sexual abuse. “The plague of the homosexual agenda has been spread within the Church,” they write, “promoted by organized networks and protected by a climate of complicity and a conspiracy of silence.” The Church hierarchy, however, wishes…Continue Reading

Vatican sex abuse cover-up unravels as prosecutors home in on bishop protected by Pope Francis

February 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Argentinean prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation for alleged sexual abuse against a bishop and close personal friend appointed and protected by Pope Francis, according to the attorney general’s office of the province of Salta, Argentina. The target of the investigation is Gustavo Zanchetta, who was named bishop of the diocese of Orán by Pope Francis in 2013. Zanchetta suddenly fled his diocese and resigned from his office in July…Continue Reading

McCarrick laicized by Pope Francis


Vatican City, Feb 16, 2019 / 01:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered this week the laicization of Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop emeritus of Washington, and a once powerful figure in ecclesiastical, diplomatic, and political circles in the U.S. and around the world. The decision followed an administrative penal process conducted by the CDF, which found McCarrick guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament…Continue Reading

Daleiden decries gov’t ‘collusion’ with Planned Parenthood in body parts case

SAN FRANCISCO, California, February 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-life advocate David Daleiden decried what he said was “collusion” that he witnessed happening in court yesterday between California’s deputy attorney general and abortion organizations.

Bishop Schneider: Abuse summit will be ‘doomed’ if it doesn’t address homosexuality

KAZAKHSTAN, February 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan said that the upcoming Vatican abuse summit is “doomed to failure” if the “predominant role” of homosexuality in the crisis is not addressed. “If the upcoming Summit on Clerical Sexual Abuse in the Vatican will not address the issue of the moral relativism and the non-belief in the perennial validity of the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue as the deepest cause of clerical…Continue Reading


Supreme Court . . . Blocks Law Regulating Louisiana Abortion Doctors

By CHRISTINE ROUSSELLE WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA) — The Supreme Court has blocked from taking effect a Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to hold admitting privileges at hospitals nearby to abortion clinics. The court issued a stay on Thursday evening, February 7. In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court granted a temporary stay blocking the law…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . The Exhumation Of The Equal Rights Amendment

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is a professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the…Continue Reading

God Counts The Tears Of Women

By DONALD DeMARCO The Talmud states that God counts the tears of women. This is a beautiful statement and underscores the compassion that God has for all women. Moreover, it is a compassion that should be shared by men, for the same text warns men that “they do not cause their wives pain.” Rabbi Chaim…Continue Reading

Abortion And The Green New Deal… De-Developing And Dehumanizing The United States

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of Creators Syndicate — — distributes his column. All rights reserved.) + + + Do you know who said the following? “If you further decided to buy a small car that would last 30 years, be easily repairable and…Continue Reading

Has Trump Found The Formula For 2020?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN (Editor’s Note: This column was released February 8, before further developments in Virginia.) + + + His State of the Union address, say the two networks, met with the approval of 76 percent of all viewers — 97 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of independents, and 30 percent of Democrats. Seventy-two…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Cardinal Mueller Issues Manifesto . . . A Quasi Correction Of Pope Francis’ Pontificate

By JOHN-HENRY WESTEN and MAIKE HICKSON (LifeSiteNews) — Gerhard Cardinal Mueller, the former head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, has released a Manifesto which reads like a correction of many of the doctrinal errors Pope Francis has taught during his tenure as Pope. The cardinal intended to release the manifesto on February 10. That date is the eve of the…Continue Reading

Be Like God And Love Your Enemies

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23 1 Cor. 15:45-49 Luke 6:27-38 In the second reading today St. Paul teaches there are two Adams, the first Adam is of Earth, the second, Jesus, is from Heaven. St. Paul points out that the natural came first, then the spiritual, so…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… “Men Are Not Women” And Other Inconvenient Facts

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Of course men are not women, you might respond — it’s a matter of fact. You can certainly say that for yourself if you so choose, but you cannot say it for everyone. Not anymore. The politically correct absconding from the use of reason is exploding into a political and social lobby of ever-increasing proportions.…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Some words of wisdom from Fr. George Rutler in the parish bulletin of The Church of St. Michael in New York City: “The other day, intemperate journalists accused youths from a Catholic high school in Covington, Ky., of making racial threats against an elderly Native American during the March for Life. Videos proved that there was no truth…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen In New Book… Vatican’s China Strategy Was All About Compromise And Surrender

  By MAIKE HICKSON Joseph Cardinal Zen, For Love of My People I Will Not Remain Silent, Ignatius Press: 2019,; paperback, 153 pages. (LifeSiteNews) — Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen has strongly criticized in a new book the Vatican’s recent dealings with China, stating that the “strategy was wrong,” adding that it was “all about compromise and surrender.” He has…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara

By CAROLE BRESLIN India has almost as many people (1.37 billion) as China (1.42 billion), which has three times the land area. Of the population of India, under three percent are Christian. In Kerala, a state on the southwest coast of India, nearly 20 percent are Christian. Perhaps the greater proportion is a result of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, who…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Jacoba Of Settesoli

By CAROLE BRESLIN Two millennia of Catholicism have produced saints from all walks of life: rich and poor — and the wealthy who became poor, such as St. Francis of Assisi who renounced his inheritance, St. Anthony of Egypt who gave his wealth away, and St. Thomas Aquinas who became a poor monk. There have also been those who lived…Continue Reading