been reading about the abuse scandals in the Church, specifically about how
women/girls are victimized in greater numbers than males, a fact that gets
overlooked given the frequency of abuse of women/girls in general. Not to
discount the affects of ANY abuse on anyone. I read about a researcher studying
celibacy in the priesthood who estimates that 20% of priests are engaged
with sex relations with women at any one time, and only 2% of priests actually
maintain their vows of celibacy. Not that the remaining 78% are gay, although
I would guess a large number left are engaged in gay acts/relationships.
I didnt see it in the article, but I would guess that priests are breaking
their vows through masturbation. These sort of facts are kind of depressing
and discouraging to me as someone trying to find my way back to the Church;
not that I would use their bad behavior to act badly myself. How can I find
guidance if the odds are so pathetic Im going to find a priest who
truly practices the faith? Aside from the question of whether a priest
masturbates or not, not that that isnt significant, but my greater
fear is how would I know that Im not placing my trust in an abuser/rapist?
Even if he is not exploitative to me, personally.
esearch such as this usually has
some methodological flaws that must be carefully evaluated before accepting
the conclusions at face value, so there may be more good priests than the
article suggests. Still, I agree that there is good reason for dismay, and
so I will address only the direct questions you ask.
How would I know that Im
not placing my trust in an abuser/rapist? Well, in short, you can never
know for certainexcept after the fact of his trying to abuse you. So
you have to maintain an ongoing keen awareness of all emotional cues in your
interactionsand it doesnt help to discount any odd behavior out
of a desire to be
To tell someone
that he is living in sin and is in grave danger of ending up in
hell is a warning, not judgment. As for what will
actually happen to this poor soul . . . well, only God can make that
So sometimes you need the courage
to see sin as it slowly introduces itself. But take
heartyour other question can actually lead us to something more
Seeking a Priest
Who Practices the Faith
How can I find guidance
if the odds are so pathetic Im going to find a priest who truly practices
the faith? The answer here is that you must find your guidance by yourself,
but not alone. So let me explain.
You Are Not
I say not alone because
your guidance must begin with the sacraments
of the Church. And right here you need to understand that the personal sanctity
of the priest does not affect the validity of the sacraments. Theologically,
Christ opened up this issue Himself: when His disciples came to Him in
indignation that someone who did not follow them had been driving out demons
in Jesus name, He told them, Do not prevent him. There is no
one who performs a mighty deed in My Name who can at the same time speak
ill of Me(Mark 10:3839).
Augustine addressed the issue back in the fourth century when he said, The
spiritual power of the Sacrament is indeed comparable to light: those to
be enlightened receive It in its purity, and if It should pass through defiled
beings, It is not Itself defiled. In fact the Catechism of the Catholic
Church quotes this passage from Augustine in support of its declaration,
Since it is ultimately Christ who acts and effects salvation through
the ordained minister, the unworthiness of the latter does not prevent Christ
from acting (§ 1584). So when youre in the Church, youre
not alone. Christ is always there with you, and so is the Holy
But you are there by
You Are There
The Catechism also says
that the power of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee all acts of ministers
in the same way. While this guarantee extends to the sacraments, so that
even the ministers sin cannot impede the fruit of grace, in many other
acts the minister leaves human traces that that are not always signs of fidelity
to the Gospel and consequently can harm the apostolic fruitfulness of the
Church (§ 1550).
There is something else
about the life of the shepherds . . . which discourages
me greatly. . . . I speak of our absorption in external affairs;
we accept the duties of office, but by our actions we show that we are attentive
to other things. We abandon the ministry of preaching and, in my opinion,
are called bishops to our detriment, for we retain the honourable office
but fail to practice the virtues proper to it. Those who have been entrusted
to us abandon God, and we are silent. They fall into sin, and we do not extend
a hand of rebuke.
But how can we who neglect ourselves be able to correct someone else? We
are wrapped up in worldly concerns, and the more we devote ourselves to external
things, the more insensitive we become in spirit.
from a homily on the Gospels
Saint Gregory the Great, pope
(Office of Readings, Saturday
27th Week in Ordinary Time)
It Will Break
Just as Saint Gregory said in
his own time, you will find many priests today who fail to preach the
truth. They might preach about Christ, but
they fail to preach Christ. They might preach about
peace, but they are failing in patience and peace
because their minds are overflowing with intellectual arrogance while their
hearts are lacking in humble charity. And it will break your
You will find many priests unwilling
to speak about the need to put aside selfishness,
competitiveness, rivalries, lawsuits, partying
(drinking bouts), sexual promiscuity,
lifestyles defiant of chastity, foul language, and
angry outbursts. These are the things on which
our society is now based. Many bishops and priests
have too much to lose (like financial support from arrogant, cut-throat,
hard-drinking, licentious patrons) by preaching the truth in its explicit
fullness. And it will break your heart.
You will find many priests unwilling
to preach chastity (for reasons you yourself have
clearly articulated). And it will break your heart.
You will find bishops unwilling
to root out dissension and
heresy in their dioceses, all because they
are afraid and unwilling to insist on fidelity to the Gospel and the very
Tradition that martyrs have died to protect through
the ages. And it will break your heart.
You will find so-called Catholic
schools and universities not only unwilling to teach the Gospel truth but
also eagerly and flagrantly teaching outright
heresy. And it will break your heart.
You will find other Christians,
and even Catholics, claiming with their words that they
believe in Christ but who have no real belief in
their hearts. And it will break your heart.
You will find yourself thirsting
for holiness, and all around you will be an ocean of
sin. And it will break your heart.
Therefore, if you are to
find the truth, you must find it by yourself. You
have to focus on your own desire for a holy
life. There are many good priests and many good
spiritual directors in this world, but you cannot
recognize them unless you yourself make a preliminary effort to understand
the very truth to which they should be leading you.
you will have
to put as much attention into reading and
prayer as most of the persons around you put into
TV and movies, sports, shopping, and other frivolous
entertainment. You have to stand
opposed to the culture
around you. Your friends and relatives will reject you.
Very few will understand you. And it will break
your heart. But you wont be alone. Christ, too, died of a broken
It sounds dismal, doesnt
it? Well, as I said, take heart: Christs broken heart. For if you want
to be in the Church, it is Christs broken heart that you must
This is not something to be taken
lightly, even though too many of usincluding many bishops, priests,
and deaconsdo take Christianity too
lightly. Saint Teresa of Avilawho had her share of bad
confessorsoffered this warning to those who come seeking
And His Majesty, as one
who knows our weakness, is enabling the soul through
these afflictions and many others to have
the courage to be joined with so great a Lord and to take Him as its
You will laugh
at my saying this and will think its
foolishness. . . . but . . . I tell you
there is need for more courage than you think.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The Interior Castle
So take courage, seek purity
of heart, and pray ardently for
guidanceand you shall have
Psychological Healing in the Catholic Mystic Tradition
by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
A treasure of a resource for psychological
and spiritual healing. Information gathered from my websites is now available at your fingertips
in book form with a comprehensive index.
Psychological defenses help to protect us from
emotional injury, but if you cling to the defense mechanisms that were created in your
childhood and carry them on into adulthood—as most everyone does unconsciously—your quest
for spiritual healing will be thwarted by overwhelming resentments and conflicts.
Still, God has been trying to show you that there is more to life than resentment and
conflict, something so beautiful and desirable that only one thing can resist its pull:
So now, and in every moment until you die, you will have a profound choice between your
enslavement to old defenses and the beauty of God. That decision has to come from you.
You will go where you desire.