Which is worse: stealing or raping?
Which is worse: covering up and protecting the thief, or the rapist?
I’ll tell you what’s worse: punishing those who call out the thief by threatening to accuse them of rape.
Like other professions, the Catholic priesthood is overwhelmingly composed of honorable men*, with a few bad apples. Make no mistake: the recent spate of legal activity alters that fact not a whit, and I’d like to repeat it: the Catholic priesthood is overwhelmingly composed of honorable men, with a few bad apples.
The true sin accrues to their heirarchy; the church administration who, for whatever reason — moral cowardice, avarice, or sheer inertia — choose the course of cover-up instead of justice.
There are all kinds of bad apples. It turns out that poverty can be just as difficult for some as celibacy. Misappropriation of church funds is laughably easy. Proving it in a court of law, or even getting someone in the heirarchy to care, can be more difficult. Whistle-blower priests apparently have little protection. But when one’s conscience won’t quit, to be received with censure, suspicion, and dishonor is truly a sin.
I thought there was a desperate shortage of priests. That the good ones are being hounded out while the evil cower under the heirarchy’s shameful protection goes a long way toward explaining that sorry state of affairs.
It is indeed terrible to be tried in the court of public opinion. But the jury deliberations there aren’t going the way you fear. It turns out that the higher-ups in the church are now the ones falling under the greatest suspicion. So much so that the first reaction is, “Who did he piss off?”
Good people are known by the good that they do. It takes more than innuendo by bad people — recognized for what they are now more than ever — to soil the reputations of the just. Really.
To all those good men caught up in this evil craziness, know that you are not alone. Keep the faith, as do those of us who love you.
* No, I’m not implying that all professionals are men. It just happens to be the case for this particular profession. Besides, it makes for more grandiose prose.