Thursday 20th June 2019

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

How Many Good Priests Did We Lose?

September 23, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By SHAUN KENNEY

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: svk2cr@virginia.edu.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Politics breeds evasion, abstraction, and euphemism. A politician is someone who can discuss abortion for hours without using the word KILL.

If capital punishment is inadmissible, how is excommunication (the spiritual version of capital punishment) admissible if its consequence is eternal death?

Load More...

Vatican’s doctrinal office expected to release document on gender theory

Vatican City, Jun 14, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican’s doctrinal office is preparing a document which will address Church teaching and the anthropology of the human person in the context of so-called gender theory, according to a Vatican…Continue Reading

Illinois bishops oppose abortion law, disagree on Communion for pro-choice lawmakers

Baltimore, Md., Jun 14, 2019 / 04:00 am (CNA).- While two Illinois bishops are unified in their strong opposition to the state’s new abortion law, they differ on the question of prohibiting to receive Holy Communion the Catholic state legislators…Continue Reading

‘The Decalogue’ for Nuncios (Pope Francis’ Full Address to Meeting of Papal Representatives)

The following is a ZENIT working full English translation of the discourse Pope Francis prepared and delivered today, June 13, 2019, to all the Papal Representatives, meeting in the Vatican from June 12 – 15,  2019: **** Dear Brethren, I’m…Continue Reading

Vatican rejects idea that people can ‘choose one’s gender’

The Vatican on Monday released an official document that rejects the idea that a transgender person has the right to “choose one’s gender,” according to reports. The Washington Post reported that the Catholic Church said in the document that the right to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Pell awaits verdict after prosecutor stumbles in appeal hearing

June 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The two-day hearing in Cardinal George Pell’s appeal before the Victorian Court of Appeal against his conviction for alleged child sex abuse in Melbourne, Australia, in the 1990s ended Thursday with a positive impression for the defense.…Continue Reading

Archdiocese of Saint Paul-Minneapolis announces synod

St. Paul, Minn., Jun 7, 2019 / 06:04 pm (CNA).- Minnesota’s largest diocese will hold a synod— a meeting designed to help the bishop shepherd his local flock— during Pentecost Weekend 2021, Archbishop Bernard Hebda announced yesterday. It will be the…Continue Reading

Jerry Falwell, Jr., Rev. Kevin Cusick and the Satanic War Against Sex

Some entity or other doesn’t want me writing. First, my carpal tunnel has flared up something fierce. It hurts me to pet the beagles, much less to peel them off the dirty plates they’re licking inside the dishwasher. My favorite…Continue Reading

Biden Buckles, Flips on Hyde Amendment Under Pressure From Democrats

Former Vice President Joe Biden reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment Thursday after facing intense backlash from within his own party. Biden, while speaking in Atlanta, first reaffirmed his support for Roe v. Wade

Biden names pro-LGBT ‘Equality Act’ as top priority if elected

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Passing the radical pro-LGBT and pro-abortion Equality Act “will be the first thing I ask to be done” if elected president, Joe Biden said at the annual Human Rights Campaign gala Saturday. The…Continue Reading

Pontifical university bans top scholar who accused Pope Francis of heresy in open letter

ROME, May 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – One of the English-speaking world’s greatest living scholars of Classical philosophy was told he has been barred from all Pontifical Universities after he signed an Open Letter along with a number of prominent clergymen and scholars…Continue Reading

Pope Francis responds to heresy accusation, China concerns

Pope425

Vatican City, May 29, 2019 / 10:05 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said he reacted “with a sense of humor” to the accusation of heresy made against him earlier this month. “It does not hurt me at all. Hypocrisy and lies…Continue Reading

Parish priest assails Catholic prep school’s decision to allow same-sex union announcements

The pastor of a Catholic parish in the Washington suburbs has publicly slammed the decision this month by Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School to allow announcements of same-sex unions in its magazine for graduates, calling it a scandal that was a…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

Cburke3

  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

Catechism

Today . . .

Archbishop Viganò clarifies points arising from new interview

ROME, June 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In the wake of two recent pieces in the Washington Post relating to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, an article and an extended interview (the first the archbishop has granted since his initial allegations concerning Pope Francis), renewed insinuations and smears have been directed at the former diplomat of the Holy See. In his June 10 interview, the archbishop claims that the actions so far taken against McCarrick are chiefly…Continue Reading

Pope backs carbon pricing to stem global warming and appeals to deniers

Carbon pricing, via taxes or emissions trading schemes, is used by many governments to make energy consumers pay for the costs of using the fossil fuels that contribute to global warming * Pope Francis tells top energy executives to act now * Pontiff urges world to heed scientific findings

U.S Bishops Approve the Revised Passage on the Death Penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults

BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved the revised passage on the death penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults. The full body of bishops approved the revised passage by a vote of 194 to 8 with 3 abstentions at their Spring General Assembly taking place in Baltimore, June 11-14. On August 2, 2018, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released the Holy Father’s revision to the teaching on the…Continue Reading

Democrats Fail to Get Enough Votes to Force Americans to Fund Abortions

House Democrats failed to garner enough support Monday for a measure to force American taxpayers to pay for abortions. The Washington Examiner reports the amendment came from a group of progressive Democrats who want to remove the Hyde Amendment from a Congressional spending bill. The Hyde Amendment prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions in Medicaid. The Democrats pushing the measure were U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts, Barbara Lee, of California, Pramila Jayapal, of Washington, Diana DeGette,…Continue Reading

Cdl Burke, Bp Schneider issue ‘declaration of truths’ to correct rampant ‘doctrinal confusion’ in Church

ROME, June 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, together with several other bishops, have issued a public declaration of truths of the faith to remedy the “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation” endangering the spiritual health and eternal salvation of souls in the Church today

Advertisement(2)

Where Did The Zombie Apocalypse Come From?

By ARTHUR HIPPLER (Editor’s Note: Dr. Hippler is chairman of the religion department and teaches religion in the Upper School at Providence Academy, Plymouth, Minn.) + + + Am I the only one who has noticed the proliferation of movies and television shows about zombies? Casual browsing on Netflix reveals not only the longtime series…Continue Reading

God’s In Charge

By Fr. MICHAEL P. ORSI (Editor’s Note: A priest of the Diocese of Camden, N.J., Fr. Michael P. Orsi currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, Fla. He is host of Action for Life TV, a weekly cable television series devoted to pro-life issues, and his writings appear in numerous publications…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Mediocrity Vs. The Golden Mean

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Grace and Truth: Twenty Steps to Embracing Virtue and Saving Civilization, by Fr. George W. Rutler; 145 pages, EWTN Publishing. Available from Sophia Institute, www.sophiainstitute.com, in both print and electronic editions. Grace and Truth: Twenty Steps to Embracing Virtue and Saving Civilization, comes from televised talks which Fr. Rutler did for…Continue Reading

Floral Artist… Heads Back To U.S. Supreme Court To Protect Her Freedom

OLYMPIA — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing floral artist Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take her case after the Washington Supreme Court ruled against her on June 6. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the state High Court’s previous ruling against Stutzman and ordered it to reconsider…Continue Reading

Canada And The Erosion Of Conscience

By DONALD DeMARCO Pro-abortionists have consistently argued that a woman should have the freedom to follow her conscience. Granted that this notion of conscience is incomplete since it may not be properly formed, nonetheless it gave pro-life people the assurance that this right to one’s conscience would protect doctors who are opposed to abortion from…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Barbarians Have Won

By DEACON JAMES H. TONER Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Deacon Toner has contributed numerous columns to The Catholic Thing, Crisis Magazine, and The Wanderer. He serves in the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C. This is a two-part article. Part one appeared in last week’s issue.) IV. The Church has long taught lex orandi, lex credendi (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church,…Continue Reading

God’s Greatest Gift To Us

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Solemnity Of Corpus Christi (YR C) Readings: Gen. 14:18-20 1 Cor. 11:23-26 Luke 9:11b-17 The Holy Eucharist is the greatest gift and the greatest treasure we possess on Earth. God has given us many great gifts, but the Eucharist is God Himself! It is such a marvelous mystery that the whole universe cannot contain God, but…Continue Reading

Latest From Fr. Cusick . . . Modesty: A Woman’s Voice

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK For readers following “the tweet hated round the world” story, more on the aftermath in this week’s column. Being removed a degree from Twitter after deactivating my personal account, and looking back at comments on the social media platform, is like being dead. People talk about me in the third person: “We miss him,” “Hope…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Commenting on the Vatican accord last year to give the Communist regime in Red China a say in the naming of new Catholic bishops, Fr. George Rutler of the Church of St. Michael in New York City offered these trenchant comments in a recent bulletin: “While the Holy See invokes two thousand years of diplomatic experience, China beats…Continue Reading

The Barbarians Have Won

By DEACON JAMES H. TONER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Deacon Toner has contributed numerous columns to The Catholic Thing, Crisis Magazine, and The Wanderer. He serves in the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C. This is a two-part article.) + + + Précis: Known as barbarians or heathens, the powerful enemies of the Church are both internal and external. There are many…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Joseph Of Anchieta

By CAROLE BRESLIN At the delta of the Benevente River on the coast of Brazil lies the city of Anchieta. With a population of 30,000, it is about 200 miles northeast of Rio de Janeiro. Famous for its long sandy beaches, Anchieta houses the Espirito Santo state government offices which overlook the Atlantic Ocean. More than four centuries old, this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Marcellin Joseph Benedict Champagnat

By CAROLE BRESLIN The end of the 18th century in France was a time of persecution for the Catholic Church with many priests and religious driven from convents and rectories, and others put to death. As more and more priests were martyred, the Church searched for good young men to replace them. In the history of the Church, there have…Continue Reading