Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bishop Lahey Affair and the Question of Catholic Priesthood and Celibacy -- 6

Some Observations (Contd.)

  • Mother Teresa knew of unholy priests, that's why she made an earnest appeal for holy priests. Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1980 spoke to the World Synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome. The theme of the synod was "The Family." She was already aware of priestly indiscretions. That is why she told Pope John Paul II and 202 bishops present in the synod: "What I am going to say is inspired by the Holy Spirit. I'm not worthy to speak to Your Holiness and the Bishops. I've accepted the invitation to come here so that I might bring a request of the rejected people, who are lepers, poor, dying, sick, neglected and abandoned....They told me that they needed holy priests." In October of 1980, in the light of Mother Teresa talk to the synod, a spiritual retreat of several thousand priests was held in Rome where Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa were two main speakers. Addressing the priests, Mother Teresa said: "This world needs holy priests." To the priests worldwide she reiterated: "Be holy like Jesus." The priests are supposed to be holy and alter Christus (the other Christ). Why was then Mother Teresa insisting on having holy priests? It is also noteworthy that Mother Teresa later started the "Adopt-a-Priest" programme among her Missionaries of Charity nuns. Each nun was told to adopt an individual priest and pray for him and remember him in the holy Mass so that he might be more holy and worthy of Jesus Christ. Mother Teresa also founded the Corpus Christi Movement, a private association of diocesan priests approved by the Congregation of the Clergy in the Vatican, to foster priestly holiness and the spiritual renewal of the Church. Mother also said: "Pray much for priests because we need holy priests. The holier the priests are, the more holy we religious will be. Then, too, the more holy will be he families who are longing for God. If we have holy families, we will have many holy vocations."

  • The Church document insisted on dealing with clergy sex abuses secretly. In the past, bishops and priests kept clergy sexual abuse cases secret from the common Catholics as well as government authority. Some allege that this was done according to the 1962 instruction of the Supreme and Holy Congregation of the Holy Office in the Vatican. This 39-page instruction, called Crimen Sollicitationes (the Crime of Solicitation), was addressed to "All Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops and Other Diocesan Ordinaries, 'Even of the Oriental Rite'." This document gave instruction on the manner of proceeding in cases of the crime of solicitation by priests. It told them to deal with the issues of criminal solicitation of priests secretly. Local Church authorities dealing with this matter as well as the persons who bring allegations against the clergy were to keep everything secret under "the penalty of excommunication." This is the reason why, perhaps, clergy sex abuse cases were not reported or publicized. Ordinary Catholics also dared not come forward with allegations of such abuses. Others, mostly Canon Lawyers, contend that this Vatican instruction was not intended to keep sexual abuses secret from criminal prosecution by the government. By this time it is amply proven by examples from many different countries that the secrecy on abuse cases and transfer of priests from place to place spawned repetitions of sexual misconduct and the consequences of the abuses on the victims were never given importance. The lessons learnt from the past sexual clergy misconducts give urgency to the Catholic Church to come up with a completely revised and redone instruction on dealing with such cases in future.

  • It takes years for building up one's character, but it takes minutes to ruin it. Can you imagine how all prestige, position, fame, and respect can go down the drain in a matter of minutes? That's what happened to Bishop Raymond J. Lahey at the Ottawa airport. Before submitting his passport to the border services agent there, he was considered a holy, respected and highly-placed Church official with thousands of Catholics under his jurisdiction. He had access to unlimited funds. He was considered an intellectual in the Catholic Church. Within a few minutes, everything is gone, caput! A great lesson to be learned from this event.

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