Tag Archives: Priesthood

Why Did So Many Gay Men Enter the Priesthood in the 20th Century?

Here are 10 very important Nota Benes to read before the account of homosexuality in the American Catholic Church:
1. This is not a gay-bashing blog-post. I have good friends who have struggled with same-sex attraction. Most of them were smart enough not to enter seminary or religious life. I say “smart” because it would be stupid to go live with 100 people you’re sexually attracted to for over seven years in a celibate vocation.
2. I do not believe anyone is born “gay,” so the correct Catholic term is actually “someone who struggles with same-sex attraction.” However, for the sake of brevity, I will often use the term “gay” or “homosexual.”
3. There have always been gays in the priesthood, but this blog post is a cultural evaluation of what is different about the 20th and 21st centuries.  I know a 55 years old priest who claims that 60% of the priests his age are gay and 80% of the bishops are gay. The priest who told me this is a normal diocesan priest who does not even know the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM.)  Many priests and seminarians from several dioceses concur on these admittedly-estimated numbers.
4. If you can show me any time in Church history with as many gays as the Catholic clergy in Europe and the Americas today, I will give you my vehicle, a 2007 Nissan Murano. You giving me numerous quotes from St. Peter Damien in the 11th century is not sufficient. In fact, the fact that we have only one saint repeatedly quoted on this topic from 19 centuries before our own proves to me that we have never had an epidemic of so many homosexuals in the priesthood as today.
5. Most priests and seminarians under 45 years old in the United States are straight, so things are getting better.
6. 80% of the cases of priests raping children came from priests (including now bishops and Cardinals) who self-identify as same-sex attracted. This was proven here.
7. Nevertheless, only 1.8% of priests are pedophiles as proven here.
8. This blog post is not about the child abuse in the clergy, but one of the many underlying perversions, namely, homosexuality in the priesthood. That is not the exclusive cause of criminal activity, but it is not a factor we can ignore.
9. This blog post is not about the full history of homosexuals in the priesthood, but rather the cultural factors and attacks on the Church in 20th century that created the perfect storm for many homosexuals to enter Catholic seminaries.
10. The next blog post after this one will have solutions to many of the below problems.

Jesus Christ chose twelve Apostles as His first Catholic bishops, half of whom were fishermen. Let that reality set in for a minute: Tough, blue-collar workers who never made it to rabbi-school were chosen as Apostles. To be sure, neither were they impious doofuses. They were tough, blue-collar workers who took their faith seriously, even when they had to say things to Our Lord like “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”—Luke 5:8. They thought in black-and-whites like that, not Hegelian greys.

St. John the Baptist, although never chosen to be a Catholic priest, was of a Jewish priestly tribe. We know this because of what St. Luke tells us about the Baptist’s father, Zachariah: “And it came to pass, when he executed the priestly function in the order of his course before God, According to the custom of the priestly office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord.”—Luke 1:8-9. As you know, in Judaism, the son of a priest is always a priest.

Now, St. John the Baptist lived out his priesthood not in the Second Temple, but in the original temple of the cosmos, under the stars, in reflection of the first priest, Adam. That second temple in Jerusalem was built by King Herod, who’s son Herod who would one day kill St. John the Baptist for preaching against him taking his brother Phillip’s wife. But Herod was also rumored in Roman circles to be a vicious homosexual. Thus, by today’s standards, Herod was therefore a “bi-sexual” or “pan-sexual” since he also liked children.

In a little known passage from the Gospels, Jesus contrasts his saintly second-cousin John the Baptist to the filthy Herod who would one day kill the Baptist.  St. Matthew writes: “As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.'”—Mt 11:7-8 ESV.

That word translated above “soft” in Greek is μαλακοῖς, and Jesus is saying that John the Baptist would never be caught in soft garments like rich kings. But the adjective μαλακοῖς (pronounced malakois) which is indeed accurately translated as “soft,” also has a very telling etymology. μαλακοῖς comes from the noun μαλακός (pronounced malakos) and my Greek-English dictionary defines it as this: “μαλακόςsoft, soft to the touch, metaph. in a bad sense, effeminate, of a catamite, of a boy kept for homosexual relations with a man, of a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness, of a male prostitute.”

If you doubt that this interpretation is a simply a stretch to include homosexuality in my blog post, look at which word the Apostle Paul uses to show how practicing homosexuals will not make it to heaven: 1 Cor 6:9: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality (μαλακοὶ), nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”—1 Cor 6:9-10. Notice that μαλακοὶ is the plural for effeminate men.

In his section on effeminacy in the Summa Theologica II-II.138, St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “It is inconsistent for one who is not cast down by fear, to be defeated by lust, or who has proved himself unbeaten by toil, to yield to pleasure.” In other words, St. Thomas is saying that the man “unbeaten by toil” is not likely to be effeminate. Unfortunately, the homes of modern bishops are more like those of Herod, than the rough tree-canopy of John the Baptist at the Jordan River.

Similarly, up until the 20th century, the priesthood was known as the most difficult life that a Catholic man could live. We all know of the constant physical pain felt by the first missionaries to the United States, like the Jesuit St. Isaac Jogues or the Franciscan St. Junipero Serra. St. Isaac Jogues had his fingers chewed off by Iriquois in upstate New York. St. Junipero Serra walked from central Mexico to southern California after being stung on his heel by a scorpion…all to establish missions up and down the California coast.

People expect this from old-school Jesuits and Franciscans, but did you know that bishops in the 19th century led lives as physically challenging? The first bishop of Colorado, Bishop Machebeuf, swept up and down the front range (modern day I-25) from Santa Fe to Denver and then back again, establishing missions, fighting off bands of bandits, mountain lions and bears…sleeping in tents, eating little, exposed to the New Mexico heat and the Colorado cold.

Bishop Machebeuf left France for this challenge in the 19th century and went everywhere with two priests. It was a hard life that only the toughest Catholic Frenchmen could endure. Colorado’s first parishes established by this first bishop of Colorado, Bishop Machebeuf, came at the price of his own body being racked by constant pain…yet it left him a humble demeanor and an excellent sense of humor. Only the toughest athletes of Europe could come be priests in the United States, be it religious or diocesan.

Before Vatican II, there was already a small infiltration of homosexuals and communists into seminaries and religious orders in the United States and Europe. In the 1960s, a French nurse named Marie Carre took care of a man in a horrible car accident. She found in his briefcase nearly-unbelievable evidence that the communists had placed 1100 men into Western seminaries for ordination, and they had made it to ordination undetected. The man who died in that car accident was one of them, and the findings of that mysterious briefcase are in this book.  The point is that the infiltration of the priesthood of communists, gays and freemasons began sometime in the 20th century significantly before Vatican II.

Remember that the point of this blog post is simply to show how the culture and the Church changed to allow more gays into the priesthood than ever before.  Also, remember that although this blog post is not about the raping of children,  Nota Bene number six at the beginning of this blog post shows that 80% of the priests who harm children were identified as gay.  Part 2 will be solutions.

Catholicism grows very well in pain and opposition. But by the time John F. Kennedy was President of the United States, Catholics were no longer sidelined, but rather mainstream. Fighting side-by-side with Protestants in two World Wars earned us the respect as equals, as true American citizens.  Of course, the Irish Catholic President Kennedy greatly promoted the cause of Catholic popularity in both the United States and Europe. This is fine too, but it presents a small problem:  It it is hard to be faithful when things get easy as a Catholic. As the Clear Creek translation of the Bible says, “The beloved have become fat and frisky.”—Dt 32:15.

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The bishop in the middle is straight, but I learned as a priest that that gentle elbow grab with a goofy smile is usually a good sign the cleric is struggling with same sex attraction.  I mean—not struggling.

Thus, Catholics (and especially priests and bishops) went from unpopular and poor in the 19th century to popular and rich after the second World War. It came to be that if you want to live in a million-dollar rectory just for offering one Mass a day but you don’t want to tell your mother why you don’t like women, then the Catholic priesthood might be right for you!  As if this was not a perfect storm enough, then Vatican II arrived. For nearly 40 years before Vatican II, there was a small creep of modernism, homosexuality and even communism into seminaries in North America and South America. Vatican II was not the root of such men in the Church, but they certainly hijacked the original documents of the Council in the second week of October 1962.

The decade that followed Vatican II was not the genesis of gay priests, but it allowed them to live in the open, and here’s my guess as to why: All through seminary, I was told that there was no change to liturgy or doctrine. Vatican II had just been mis-implemented. I repeated this odd mantra, and somehow I got ordained. So, I arrive in the parish, and I do the Mass of Vatican II according to the rules of Vatican II as faithfully as I could. Then, I sadly had five parishes in five years, repeatedly getting booted for disallowing careless so-called “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.” (Only one of those pastors was probably gay, thankfully.)

But still, I would always end up in the bishop’s office quoting a 2004 document, Redemptonis Sacramentum, against this and countless other abuses. At the end of five years, I had been kicked out of five parishes, and I was exhausted. If I expected my reader in previous blog posts to pity me for having so many parishes, I now write this to prove a simple point: If a priest is not allowed to do the Mass of Vatican II according to the rules of Vatican II in a conservative diocese, under five conservative pastors…then there is no order to the Novus Ordo.

Let me write that again with no exaggeration: Even in conservative dioceses, there is no order to the Novus Ordo liturgy. This means the Mass of Vatican II was not just mis-implemented. It was written to have no order. The Dutch, Dominican Father of Vatican II, Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx said: “We have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards.”—Fr. Schillebeeckx.

Mission Accomplished, Fr. Schillebeeckx! Many if not most American dioceses have at least one young, straight priest who has been suspended from offering public Masses not because he did the Traditional Latin Mass, but because he did the Mass of Vatican II according to the so-called “rules” of Vatican II. But as Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx admitted, the ambiguity of the Mass of Paul VI was ultimately for chaos in the rules. This does not come from me, but from one of the main players of Vatican II.

This also proves there is no “hermeneutic of continuity” even in conservative dioceses. This is not only a problem in liturgy, but also doctrine. In my first five Novus Ordo parishes, I was certainly allowed to preach the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and I was even allowed to preach pro-life, but anything else that came from the doctrine of Catholic tradition, and I was frequently told that I was not “pastoral.” What kind of men are going to be attracted to a no order system of doctrine like that? What kind of men are going to be attracted to a liturgy that puts entertainment ahead of liturgical precision? What kind of men are going to be attracted to popularity ahead of doctrinal precision? There’s only one answer to all three questions: Homosexuals.

A no-order liturgy and a no-order doctrine are going to attract a man who is aberrantly-ordered sexually. It’s really very simple. The Mass of Vatican II and the amorphous teaching of the last fifty years on doctrine is very attractive to manipulative and emotional men, and such personality traits are always correlative to same-sex attracted men.  It is a lot easier since I now offer only the Traditional Latin Mass.

What happened to the straight men who were attracted to solid, doctrinal parameters? They were kicked out of seminaries in the 1990s. A man who does not believe in any objective order for his sexuality (homosex at best, child abuse at worst) is going to be attracted to a Mass where he, the narcissist, is the only point of reference for entertaining the people. Furthermore, unrepentant gay men prefer the fuzzy doctrine of the post Vatican II era, for here, every rule can be dispensed for “pastoral reasons.”

Once the gay, conniving manipulative priests began to fill seminaries and religious orders in the 1970s, they easily became priests by the 1980s, and then bishops by the 1990s. To prove that gay bishops ambitiously helped each other in ladder-climbing through the hierarchy would take another five blog posts.  Always follow the money.  Oh, and follow the sex:  As we saw in the Cdl. McCarrick history, the gay hierarchy purposefully sought out soft or handsome young men (and even boys) to enter their seminaries for untoward reasons. “Conservative” orders like the Legionnaires of Christ were simply smoother about their destruction of the priesthood than the liberals.  It should be noted that this gay perversion and child abuse has even made it a little bit to certain traditional religious congregations that use the Traditional Latin Mass.  Joseph Sciambra reported abuse of children in the traditional Society of St. John decades ago.  He was not fully vindicated until the last chapter of the recently-released 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on the Society of St. John.

Why don’t current, young orthodox priests blow the whistle on this gay mafia? Because most of the straight guys become cowardly, company men under their gay superiors, even when they avoid sexual sins with them. Occasionally one priest or another has the fortitude to blow the whistle. But when a straight-priest blows a whistle on a gay orgy of other priests, his bishop removes him. Of course, the bishop throws a red-herring to the faithful to incriminate the solid, young priest. If you think this is only a thing of the 1990s à la GoodBye Good Men, then see a recent account here on the good Fr. Leatherby.

 

Msgr. Ricca was a Vatican diplomat posted in Montevideo, Uruguay and has made secular international news many times for homosexual scandals.  Ricca was later later named as “head of the Papal residence” at the Casa Santa Martha.

Finally, realize that the necessity of gay men running parishes jives very well with an America where women are the spiritual leaders of the families. Although I blame these scandals entirely on priests, not on families, we must recognize that the breakdown of the family contributed to such rotten priests. Catholic boys for the past fifty years have mostly been raised by their mothers, not their fathers. This has partly contributed to a mostly-gay priesthood. These gay priests furthermore surround themselves with old women in the parish, to whom they give much control. It’s a symbiotic relationship: The gay priest gets to gossip over coffee with the ladies all morning. In return, the ladies are delegated control of a parish—the next best thing to getting ordained.

In the next blog post, I’ll offer some possible but real solutions to re-establishing a straight, healthy and strong priesthood in the Catholic Church.

The Best Day of my Priesthood

Nota Bene: A few months ago, I was talking to Steve Skojec of OnePeterFive on the phone about potential scandals that I suspected would break. Before we hung up, I had mentioned that it was the one year anniversary of the best day of my priesthood.  I told him the following story. To my surprise, my fellow Catholic-blogger Steve encouraged me to blog about the below. I said that writing about it would be self-centered or narcissistic.  He didnt think so.  So, with all the bad news in the Catholic media,  I want to share a day that was purely a gift from God.  

I spent 2017 as the parish priest in a small bayou parish in south Louisiana. Their normal pastor was serving as a chaplain for the US Army for a year, and he needed someone who knew the Traditional Latin Mass. His tiny bayou parish was very unusual insofar as it was under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, but was 1962-sacraments-only. The bishop down there was very good to me. Like most “Latin ghettos” in other dioceses, this Latin Mass parish was found in a poor part of the state, in this case on Tiger Bayou, full of gators and ditched oil rigs. I describe Louisiana as a “Catholic Texas” and I very much fell in love with Louisiana and her people. For example, when my neighbors across the bayou found out that my sister’s family was coming out from Colorado to visit me for a week, they immediately put out big speakers for zydeco music and fired up a crawfish boil for us:

Every Tuesday night, I would head to New Orleans and stay with a very gracious family on Esplanade. Wednesday morning, I woke up to go counsel at a very nasty abortion center called “Women’s Health Care Center” on 2701 General Pershing. By “counsel” we in the pro-life movement of course mean that we compassionately and peacefully ask couples who are going into an abortion center to reconsider life for their child. We offer free medical care, adoption, financial support and anything needed… so that the woman entering the abortion center does not have a “doctor” inside kill her living, child with a heartbeat and eyes and toes, all to end up in the dumpster behind General Pershing.  We call it “a save” when someone decides not to kill their child. In all honesty, I don’t have many “saves,” which is why I usually just do the Leo XIII chapter 3 minor exorcism prayers in front of the abortion centers (something the bishop of New Orleans gave me permission to do.)

But Wednesday, 24 May 2017 was a bit different. It was the vigil of the Ascension of Our Lord.  Several of us pro-lifers were outside General Pershing, counseling women going inside, begging them not to kill their children, but usually with more attractive vocabulary than that. Most of my sidewalk counseling team is usually women about ten to twenty years older than me. My friend Clemmie is one example.  That day, she spoke to a 20 year old woman who was about 8 to 10 weeks pregnant.  She was going inside the abortion center, and it seemed like a good conversation because the young woman said she’d go back to her car and think about it. She did return to her car, but then, disaster: She decided to keep her abortion appointment.

As she was walking back inside, Clemmie was on the other side of the building, unable to intercept her. However, the young woman accidentally ran into me! Here I was in my cassock (Roman Collar) with a book in hand and everything. A thousand pro-life phrases ran through my head, in order to save this baby. But something stupid came out of my mouth.  I said: “Honey, it doesn’t look like you want to go in there, do you?” She said “I don’t know.” I said, “Let’s go get breakfast.” She said, “Ok.” So, I quickly invited Clemmie to come with us. There, over Mexican eggs and shrimp, the gal agreed to go with us to get her a free ultrasound at a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPCs) in Metarie. (It’s very hard for women to abort their baby when they see it for the first time on ultrasound, even when they have an abortion appointment, as it was in this case.) So, our new friend quickly followed us over to a Metarie CPC. There, she got her ultrasound as we prayed before the Blessed Sacrament.

Now, you have to understand:  CPCs treat us sidewalk counselors about in the the same manner that well-groomed Emergency Department physicians treat gruff street-paramedics: “Thanks for your work, now please leave the patient alone.” In defense of CPCs, they have good reason for this protective strategy: Abortion-minded women need one and only one lifeline of support when they choose life, not numerous pro-lifers checking up on her. So, Clemmie and I went to get lunch in obedience to the CPC. However, as we were leaving, our new friend was looking at us. We knew the CPC didn’t want us to talk to her much anymore, but she clearly needed us as friends at that moment. I sheepishly invited her to lunch.  She answered in a sweet Louisiana drawl: “Well, I wouldn’t want to impose…”

By the end of the day, Clemmie and I had spent about 7 hours with our new friend, and her unborn baby.  She had decided on life!

Clemmie and me on that providential day.

By now, it was almost rush hour, and I had to get Clemmie back from Metarie to General Pershing. We were pretty confident our new friend was going to stick with the growing unborn baby inside of her, so we zipped back home. Clem and I got on a crowded Eastbound I-10 when, all of a sudden, the traffic went from 60mph to 0mph. As an ex-paramedic, I had an immediate spidey-sense that something very bad had just happened. My peripheral vision caught a wave of cars piling up behind a downed motorcyclist. I jacked the wheel hard to the right to pull into the emergency lane. “Stay right here Clemmie,” I said, as I grabbed blue latex gloves from my car door pocket to go investigate.

In the middle of New Orleans’ biggest interstate, I found a 17 year old boy, lying on his back and bleeding with his motorcycle next to him. There were probably 1000 cars behind him, and there was an eerie silence because there were no sirens yet. I got his helmet off and began talking to him. I had to make an immediate decision whether I would leave him in the dangerous interstate, or move him to the jersey barrier, a move that might compromise his cervical spine if there were a fracture. I decided to move him. We got him to the jersey barrier there on I-10 and I began working him up as the ex- paramedic that I was. I found a pelvis fracture that New Orleans EMS would later miss, and my informing EMS of this find probably bumped up his treatment to a Trauma I or Trauma II center. In any case, as I was doing all my medicine, but before EMS arrived, there were bystanders watching all of this, and in the far distance, you could start to hear the sirens. 1

The kid started to wake up. Remembering that this was New Orleans, and how many Catholics were in town, I asked him if he would like to go to confession. To my shock, he said “Yes.” So…I sent away all of the bystanders.  The Fire Department was not yet there, either. There, as he leaned against the cement bleeding, with his motorcycle still in the middle of I-10, he confessed his sins. As I raised my hand to give him absolution, I saw the kid’s blood all over my latex glove. I watched my right hand, full of blood, go up-and-down, left-and-right, as the instrument of the blood of Jesus Christ, forgiving his sins.

At that moment, I remembered the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

“We don’t realize that the very Blood of Christ is dripping from our fingers onto their heads, washing the penitent clean.”

A few minutes later, NOLA EMS arrived, and I transferred my patient, broken but cleaned.  I never saw that kid again.  I don’t even remember his name.  Later in that day, I found out that the General Pershing abortion center had sent hired armed bounty hunters to look for me, claiming I kidnapped their client!  I know this story is hard to believe, but I promise all of it is true (except the above three pictures of the Motorcycle Accident, I-10 and bloody gloves are just random shots off of Google images.)  Everything else, including the pictures at the top, and of course the picture below, are real.

But, the best part of this story is this:  Seven months later, our little “save” was born:

 


  1. I realize how much this story sounds like the Grassroots production of “Fishers of Men,” and the eerie silence of working over this kid was exactly what you’ll find in this video from minute 2:20 onwards  

The Priest and Our Lady

I was staring at the Eucharist in my private chapel, and I marvelled at how the Eucharist came from me. And the Eucharist is Jesus. And Jesus is God. So…God came from me? I immediately knew there was something wrong about in my thinking. It was this: The Eucharist did not come from me.

The best preposition is probably “through.” That is, the Eucharist came through me. The Catholic Church uses the verb to confect as seen in Canon Law: “Can. 900 §1. The minister who is able to confect the sacrament of the Eucharist in the person of Christ is a validly ordained priest alone.” This verb comes from the Latin conficere, meaning to produce or to effect. It’s a variant-stem of con-facere, meaning “to make with.” Combine these two roots, and we have something like “to effect with.” So, the priest is an instrument who effects something with God…but even then it is only Christ Himself saying Hoc est enim corpus meum, or “This is my body.” This is the summit of a priest’s day when he functions in the person of Christ. He also functions as the person of Christ when the priest says Ego te absolvo or “I absolve you from your sins…” (See John 20:22-23.)

It is the priest who confects the Eucharist. In my chapel in the picture above, I stared at Our Lord and I realized that this is another link between the priest and Mary:   Jesus came through Mary. In this sense, the priest is yet again like Mary: Jesus in the Eucharist comes through me. Although the dignity of being the Mother of God has no parallel, we can both say:  I do not make God. The priest only confects the Eucharist, and even that is God’s own supreme act of love and sacrifice lived through me at my fingertips.

But why was Mary such a perfect vessel? In some sense (and I mean this with the utmost reverence to the fact she is the Immaculate Conception and the Mother of God) it was because of what she was not. She was not impure. She was not arrogant. She was not self-centered. She was not a braggart. She had no concern with being popular. The Uncreated Light of the Blessed Trinity was too transcendent for man to see.  But at Christmas and Epiphany, the Divine Word was all of a sudden visible because of a pure prism with no selfishness.

That prism is of course the Holy Theotokos, Mary, Our Lady.  Because of her purity, Christ could enter the physical world through her. Like a perfect prism, purity is more about what is not there. There are no blemishes, marks, scratches or cracks. Purity of intention is more than just matters of the sixth or ninth commandment. Purity of intention is to ascribe nothing to oneself. He must increase and I must decrease. In fact, the word arrogance means to ascribe something to oneself that should not be there.

The mystics tell us that no one in first century Israel was praying for the coming of the Messiah more than Mary. In fact, she only wanted to be the maid of the mother of the Messiah. That is all that she wanted—to be the sidekick of the Mother of the Messiah! Of course, it was her humility that “troubled”  her (Lk 1:29) at the greeting of the glorious angel Gabriel.

Perhaps this is why the best of the desert Fathers did not want to be priests.

I have a good female friend who does a lot of good for the Church, but she is still unmarried and she does not have a religious vocation. The one place she finds great consolation is the most mysterious of all lines of the Apostle Paul: God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.—1 Cor 1:28-29. I can almost hear that deep movie-preview voice say, maybe for a new Lord of the Rings movie, that mysterious line about some barely-existing creature that would change the world: “even things that are not…” I don’t think she realizes how much this humility makes her like Mary, even when she doesn’t understand her vocation.  This is how Mary saw herself, as something that was not. I don’t mean this in the way of self-pity or lack-of-self confidence.  It actually takes an extremely humble person to have self-confidence.

In fact, without humility, God could not have made her the most famous woman in history. Yes, “He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”—Lk 1:48

What does this have to do with Our Lady’s priests?  As Archbishop Fulton Sheen got older in all his sermons and retreats, it seems to my listening ears (many years after his death) that there was a progression in all his talks through the 1970s of his growing concern about how many priests wanted to exert their own personality…to be funny, to be entertaining, to be relevant, to be hip. Archbishop Fulton Sheen would frequently boom a mockery-motto of the modern priest: “I gotta be me!” No, Mary did not need any of these things for Christ to come through Her. Rejecting popularity, she became the most popular woman in history. It’s quite a mystery, actually.

This is true for preaching, too.  We have had 50 years of the via positiva, people preaching from the pulpit that “God loves you.” And this is fine.  But there’s a detriment to no preaching the via negativa.  Years ago, when I first read the hellfire sermons of St. John Vianney, I was discouraged. When I first heard of St. John of the Cross, I thought that this saint spent too much time writing on detachment (the via negativa). Why not more time writing about God and His love? The answer is at the top of Mount Carmel: Because at the top of Mount Carmel, when one’s spiritual ego is totally sunk, the only thing that one experiences is in the honor and glory of God.

In blue-collar terms: All we need to do is reduce the bad, and God will do His job of turning up the good.   The great saints of old spent so much time preaching against vice precisely because they were sure that God would do his job of shining through us if we could discipline ourselves (of course after the unmerited forgiveness of the blood of Christ arriving via the sacraments and faith.) The preaching of detachment was ironically a brilliant plan to make saints in love with God even more than the modern preachers who demand that we all become “saints in love with God” without any plan, without any content.  The call to surrender without content is comforting…but not for long.    People now again long for the clear moral directives of the old saints and Popes again.  The old-school spiritual writers who wrote so much pro-detachment and anti-vice seem to have treated the spiritual life as an aqueduct:  In a non-Pelagain way, after the grace of our initial conversion, the walls of discipline need to be built by us, and then the Divine Water will flow constantly.

My favorite line from GK Chesterton is: “And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was for good things to run wild.” Rules make us run faster!  The zealous and scary saints like St. Vincent Ferrer spent so much time preaching on the moral life not because they thought the moral life is the end-all be-all of the life of grace, but because they knew that if we drew strong parameters, the aqueduct bridge of grace would flow quickly into our lives.

This was true for the Apostle Paul:  “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”—Rom 8:6-7.  This certainly includes sexual sins for any vocation, for the Spirit of life cannot reside in a body that is impure: “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”—Romans 8:10. All vocations must live this purity, but especially the priest. St. Alphonsus Liguori said that the priest who confects the Eucharist in mortal sin actually tags four new sins onto it!

But as I wrote earlier, this is not only about purity in body. Purity of intention is to want only one thing. That one thing is God’s glory, that is, sinking popularity and personality-cult followers. The priest must be like Our Lady, to want God’s glory alone, even at the price of a funny or witty mind.  The truth is:  None of it matters to Our Lady.  She loves her priests, but not our egos.  She knows that especially the priest’s heart will ebb and flow in one front of love and purity and orthodoxy as the Catechism points out:

The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” “Pure in heart” refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity; chastity or sexual rectitude; love of truth and orthodoxy of faith. There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith: The faithful must believe the articles of the Creed “so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe.”—CCC 2518

Notice that the beginning of chastity is not doing seemingly-creative things with the body.  Notice that orthodoxy is not doing seemingly-creative things with doctrine.  Both seem boring, but both lead the via negativa to supernatural love (charity.)

How about the via positiva?  How do we get to God through positive actions?  In some sense, it really is how much time any of us in any vocation we spend with the Eucharist and with Our Lady.  It’s not that God counts how many prayers we do (though He does know this, of course) but rather, as the Catechism says:  “The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart.“—CCC 2710

Why is the pathway to high levels of supernatural love in the 21st century going to be found in much time with the Eucharist and the Rosary?  Because St. John Bosco predicted these days 150 years ago in his prophetic dream:  “Very grave trials await the Church. What we have suffered so far is almost nothing compared to what is going to happen. The enemies of the Church are symbolized by the ships, which strive their utmost to sink the flagship. Only two things can save us in such a grave hour: devotion to Mary and frequent Communion. Let us do our very best to use these two means and have others use them everywhere.”

The Last Jedi and the Priesthood

The Prequels

Towards the end of our first year in seminary, we were required to take a 30-day silent-retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It was the summer of 2005, and we seminarians arrived in Omaha for a month off the grid. We were taken about 45 miles northeast of Omaha to a forest in Iowa, where we would pray along the Nishnabotna River for 30 days in silence. Every day would include four to five hours of meditation on the Gospels (Ignatian mental prayer) as well as daily Mass, Rosary, Divine Office and manual labor. The Spiritual Exercises are truly that: Exercises, not a sleepy retreat. However, because of the intensity of our retreat, they gave us weekends to talk with each other and go to town.

One weekend, we went to Omaha to see the newly-released prequel called Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. It was the third prequel that was the missing link between little podracer Anakin Skywalker and his future self, Darth Vader. If you remember the movie, the Jedi were celibate warriors who saved the universe. People like Qui Gon and Obi Wan looked like Franciscans but acted like Jesuits (old-school ones.)

We seminarians came bounding out of that theatre like high schoolers who had just seen Remember the Titans. We exalted in the fact that the Jedi were so clearly the priests of the Universe.  We saw: They were warriors, not administrators. It was very obvious that the most talented member of the Jedi order, Anakin Skywalker, had lost his way only when he cracked on his vows of chastity and obedience. The Jedi were so clearly the Holy Priesthood! Seeing that movie was an unexpected boost to our thrill of the potential-future-gift of the priesthood.

Fast-forward 12 years. I have now been a priest for seven years and I have been stabbed in the back by many priests, lied to by many priests, lied about by many priests and betrayed by many priests (including this event that I blogged about a couple years ago which shook my faith not only in the priesthood but even the Catholic Church.) No, I did not come bouncing into the theatre this week. I came trudging into the theatre with my 57 year-old widower-friend who told me as we entered the theater that his brother (who loves Star Wars so much that he actually shows up to parties dressed up as Chewbacca) actually walked out on this movie. I almost turned around when he said this, but I clopped into that theatre, 20 pounds heavier than in my joyful seminarian days. It’s not so much that my vocation is in danger, but I’m just tired of life, jaded at how other priests will just throw me under the bus to save themselves a fraction of the cross in defending tradition. I still walked into that movie theatre in my cassock, but I didn’t care if the teenagers had comments about my cassock being a Jedi outfit or not.

It just didn’t matter.

However, something changed in watching that movie. Not only was The Last Jedi my favorite of the last three Star Wars (and pretty funny, too) but also it completely opened my eyes as to why Satan has attacked the priesthood so much, even from within. A Jedi falls hard in the 2005 Revenge of the Sith after sins against chastity and obedience.   But 2017’s The Last Jedi reveals a spiritual force opposed to the Jedi. To wipe out hope in the hearts of the Jedi themselves, regarding themselves, would be all that would be needed to stop a real hope of the galaxy being free.

If I go forth into the fields, behold the slain with the sword: and if I enter into the city, behold them that are consumed with famine. The prophet also and the priest are gone into a land which they knew not.—Jer 14:18

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The movie starts with Luke Skywalker, forlorn on an island. He has seen enough of the Jedi:  “I only know one truth:  It’s time for the Jedi…to end.”  Although a fair critique of the movie has been the lack of a plot-line (as well as a tired, old attempt at feminism) there has been some key developments in the understanding of the Jedi order. It seems that the traditional books of the Jedi order were destroyed along with the Jedi order, but one website noted:

“Rey isn’t [a Jedi], at least as it’s been traditionally defined, so as far as we know there aren’t any Jedi to teach [the little boy.] And yes, the Jedi sacred books survived—stowed away by Rey on the Millennium Falcon—but studying from a book is very different from the master/padawan dynamic built up over generations of Jedi. As Luke vowed before becoming one with the Force in the final act, he won’t be the last Jedi—but what it means to be one, and who gets to carry that mantle going forward, is wide open.”

We soon see a disproportionate attack of the First Order upon the Jedi order, quite odd as the Jedi are only a single part of the Resistance. Indeed, there might be galaxies of normal “lay organisms” (so to speak) who have some ability to tap into the Force, but the main target in the crosshairs of both Snoke and Kylo Ren is so clearly the Jedi order. Of course, the First Order (the Empire in the original ones) hates anyone who opposes them, but the First Order knows that the very existence of the Jedi maintain an invisible grasp on the hope in the galaxy that extends much father than any light-saber.

Towards the end of the movie, Kylo Ren is in an AT-AT and finds Skywalker on the ground. Ren orders his AT-AT and every AT-AT to aim at Skywalker and release everything they got. Hundreds of high-power laser blasts obliterate the area of the target.  We see a totally disproportionate hatred of the Jedi order, symbolized in Skywalker’s ground being blasted away. Even Kylo Ren’s underlings remark on his unusual and disproportionate use of firepower for a single target. Somehow, this does not kill Skywalker. Kylo Ren realizes that he must face him on the ground, light-saber to light-saber. We hear this conversation:

Luke Skywalker: “I failed you, Ben. I’m sorry.”

Kylo Ren: “I’m sure you are! The Resistance is dead, the war is over, and when I kill you, I will have killed the last Jedi!”

Luke Skywalker: “Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong. The Rebellion is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi.”

He will not be the last Jedi?  Who will be the one to carry the torch for the Jedi? The movie ends with a slave-boy manipulating a broom without touching it. He shines a ring that is symbolic of some force or use of the Force. We don’t know who he will be.

The Holy Priesthood in the 21st Century

I have been seeing a certain meme on Facebook that contains a quote by one of my priestly heroes, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I like this quote because I have a lot more hope in the lay people carrying the faith than the priests and bishops who are afraid of their own shadow in this crisis in the Church.

But The Last Jedi made me re-think the above meme. The Last Jedi made me realize that there will be no restoration of things holy in the Catholic Church without the Holy Priesthood. It’s not only because the priest is the portal to both Confession and the Holy Eucharist. There is something vital to the priesthood to the future of the Church.

A recent non-Catholic study in Christianity Today revealed that the number of Catholics in the world is growing by birth rates, but not by the conversions or even retention rate of past ages of the Church. But the most astonishing fact in the Christianity Today article is how the number of priests is tanking on all continents, even the ones we claim are doing so well in vocations. For example, Africa is doing better than South America in producing priests, but it’s a miserable number considering the Catholic birth rate in African countries. Or, consider the United States: From 100 years ago to 50 years ago, the United States saw one of the greatest vocation booms in the history of the Church to the Holy Priesthood. From 50 years ago until now, vocations have plummeted in an unprecedented manner.

Why has the enemy attacked the priesthood so severely? The answer comes from the attempted-burning of the Sacred Books in the movie, for Skywalker knows that destroying tradition will also destroy the Jedi. The enemy knows this as well as Skywalker, as seen in the dual enemy’s disproportionate attack on the Jedi order.

After St. Francis Xavier brought Christianity to Japan in the 16th century, many more holy Jesuits arrived after him. Soon, a persecution began that forced all priests underground. Although the movie Silence is about those who crack under pressure, the truth of history reveals that countless laymen and women and children and priests endured one of the worst persecutions of in the history of Catholicism for refusing to denounce Jesus and Mary. They were tortured mercilessly upside down (as seen in the movie) but also burned alive, crucified and lowered into active volcanoes. The Emperor hated Christians, but he especially hated priests. If you turned over to the Emperor’s men a Jesuit brother, you were awarded 300 pieces of silver. But if you turned over a Jesuit priest, you were awarded 500 pieces of silver.

Why this disproportionate reward from the enemy of Christ to turn over a priest instead of a brother? The easy, modern answer is “the sacraments.” But the movie revealed that simply having the presence of the Jedi in the universe brings it hope. Remember: Holy Orders without bread and wine to confect the Eucharist is still a sacrament all on its own: Holy Orders. The Japanese smoked out every last priest to the point that in 1644, the last Jesuit was dragged out and killed, and the Japanese had to keep the Catholic Faith underground for 250 years following a persecution of Christians that rivals modern day Islam or the early Roman Empire.

There are many other accounts to show the disproportionate hatred that Satan has for a holy priest above and beyond a holy layman. But I’ll use the enemy’s words, himself. Satan once said to St. John Vianney: “If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined.”

St. John Vianney, one of the holiest priests in 2000 years of Catholicism, always with an outrageous haircut that no one ever seems to question.

The power of the priesthood is linked to Christ and the fullness of what He passed down. When people ask me about being a normal diocesan priest who does only the Latin Mass, their vocabulary seems to imply that I like delicate things, whispering Latin as I turn away from the people to face the altar, almost like I like to “play priest” in days of yore, as if I preferred to wear long, flowing albs with lots of whispy lace. Well, I always need to inform such people that it has little to do with the Latin language (as powerful and beautiful and as clear as it is.) Rather, what Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum opened for us priests was a tradition commensurate with the power of the Gospel.

For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.—Hebrews 7:12

The old-rite exorcism is used by every exorcist I know. (It was crystallized in 1614 AD, but it goes back at to about 600 AD.) The sacrament of Extreme Unction in the old Roman Rite (permitted even for us new priests via Summorum Pontificum) contains the most beautiful words of any sacrament I have ever heard or read in the Western Church. The ancient words of absolution that I say dozens of times a day includes the verbiage of the lifting of excommunications (to the extent a priest is able under his bishop) in every single absolution. The approach to the Holy Eucharist in the Traditional Latin Mass fits like a glove in the moral theology of the Church regarding the holiness and dignity of the human body, especially in approaching God in awe and sexual purity.

The old Roman Breviary (Divine Office) is the public prayer of the Church where the priest prays all 150 Psalms a week in Latin. It takes between two or three hours a day. The old Roman Breviary is the most exhausting, the most life-giving challenge of my priesthood, for the mental protection that it provides me is worth it. (If I lapse, I “lapse” into the new and easy Liturgy of the Hours. For all my sins, I always pray my office.) The old calendar is airtight with all of liturgy and doctrine. There is no “ordinary time” in the extraordinary form calendar.  There is nothing “ordinary” about it, just as there is nothing “ordinary” about being a Jedi.  Why would you be celibate in order to be “ordinary”?

Our Lady of Good Success

In 1600, the Mother of God appeared to Mother Mariana of Jesus Torres y Berriochoa, a nun of the Conceptionist Order, in Quito, Ecuador. These apparitions are known as Our Lady of Good Success and they are Vatican-approved. Shockingly, Mary told Sr. Mariana some very specific things that would happen to the Catholic Church in the 20th century. Again, remember that Sr. Mariana wrote this in around 1600 regarding the coming issues of the Catholic Church 400 years later.  Here are just seven things I chose to share that Mary said to Sr. Mariana:

1) “Unhappy, the children of those times! Seldom will they receive the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. As for the sacrament of Penance, they will confess only while attending Catholic schools, which the devil will do his utmost to destroy by means of persons in authority.”

2) “The sacrament of Matrimony, which symbolizes the union of Christ with the Church, will be thoroughly attacked and profaned. Masonry, then reigning, will implement iniquitous laws aimed at extinguishing this sacrament. They will make it easy for all to live in sin, thus multiplying the birth of illegitimate children without the Church’s blessing….”

3) “Unbridled passions will give way to a total corruption of customs because Satan will reign through the Masonic sects, targeting the children in particular to insure general corruption…There shall be scarcely any virgin souls in the world. The delicate flower of virginity will seek refuge in the cloisters.…Without virginity, fire from heaven will be needed to purify these lands…”

4) “The same will occur with Holy Communion. Oh, how it hurts me to tell you that there will be many and enormous public and hidden sacrileges!”

5) “In those times, the sacrament of Extreme Unction will be largely ignored… Many will die without receiving it, being thereby deprived of innumerable graces, consolation, and strength in the great leap from time to eternity.”

6) “Religious communities will remain to sustain the Church and work with courage for the salvation of souls… The secular clergy will fall far short of what is expected of them because they will not pursue their sacred duty. Losing the divine compass, they will stray from the way of priestly ministry mapped out for them by God and will become devoted to money, seeking it too earnestly.”

7) “Unhappy times will come wherein those who should fearlessly defend the rights of the Church will instead, blinded despite the light, give their hand to the Church’s enemies and do their bidding. But when [evil] seems triumphant and when authority abuses its power, committing all manner of injustice and oppressing the weak, their ruin shall be near. They will fall and crash to the ground.”

How can anyone deny that these have come true in the Catholic Church in the 20th century and the 21st century?

But there is great hope, because the Mother of God promised this to Sr. Mariana:

“The free men from this slavery of heresies, those whom the merciful love of my most Holy Son will destine for the restoration, will have a great strength of will, constancy, valour and much trust in God. To test this faith and trust, there will be times in which everything will seem to be lost and paralyzed. This, then, will be the happy beginning of the complete restoration.”

The Spanish for the last two words of that quote is restauración completa. Mary promised that after the 20th century we would see the “complete restoration” of the Catholic Church! And this is a Vatican-approved apparition. Notice that we are not talking about a renovation or a renewal or a revolution. “Complete restoration” implies that something will have been lost that was there before. “Complete restoration” implies that something ancient and good will return to power.  The complete restoration of the Catholic Church will not happen simply because lay people are angry about the crisis in the Catholic Church. The complete restoration of the Church will come from the next generation of priests restoring all that is holy and powerful, for the salvation of souls. The next of these spiritual, priestly warriors will come from families like yours, for better or for worse.

We have seen neither the end of the Jedi, nor the end of their tradition of power.

Open Letter to a Priest

A Catholic married couple with children wrote an anonymous letter to their parish priest, to every priest. They attend the ordinary Mass in English out West. They have been good friends of mine for almost a decade, and they asked me to publish it here.


Open Letter to our spiritual Fathers
Dear Fr. ___________,
I am so very thankful that you have given your life to be our spiritual father. I am grateful for the gifts you make available to us in the sacraments. We know you work tirelessly to keep everything balanced and running smoothly. For that, we are thankful.  But we have to be honest and share our concerns and frustrations:  We have heard more about the LGBTQ community and the acceptance of that more than we have ever heard about our own marriage.
Father, we struggle with communication, we struggle with infertility, we struggle with forgiveness over infidelity, we struggle with finances, we struggle with contraception and Natural Family Planning, we struggle with in-laws, we struggle with so much and yet feel so alone.
Please Father, give us some hope and encouragement; let us know what we are supposed to do. Please don’t have your answer be “you can get an annulment.”  We don’t want to get out of our marriage; we just need you to let us know that sacrifice and suffering are part of marriage. Most of us have not heard what God’s plan for marriage is, yet we have heard that everyone is arguing about what constitutes a sacramental marriage.
It feels like we have been abandoned and left to figure it out in our own. As we strive to live God’s plan, we are burdened with what the society tells us. The culture screams its message, but the silence of the Church is at times louder than the screams.
Help us Father—for we know not what to do.
Love and blessings,
Your Sons and Daughters
1

  1. I, Padre Peregrino, want to take a brief moment to answer this family and all families who might be reading this couple’s challenging letter for us priests to step up and help you.  The best advice I can give you is to immediately purchase a book called Good Pictures Bad Pictures. It is a children’s book that teaches children between 5 and 10 years of age how to avoid pornography and/or teach the child to turn-off accidentally-found pornography as soon as possible, all the while keeping the book PG-rated, perhaps even G-rated. Most pious families reading this footnote would think that 5 years old is way too young for a talk on how to avoid pornography.  However, the truth is that the authors have had to make the same book for ages 3 years old to 6 years old called Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. Most traditional families reading this footnote might also think that  this is a good idea for other families. If you think this, you are absolutely wrong.  Your kids are getting into pornography by the age of 10 at the  very, very latest. Unless you are living in a forest without a single electronic device, your kids are in danger from the age of 3 years old, even in the most pious families. Even if you are in a forest, diabolical forces somehow get a device into the hands of very small kids to get addicted to porn in a preternatural and inexplicable way. This book, Good Pictures Bad Pictures, is first about how to teach your children to avoid porn, but secondly how they can respond in one second to shut down any device where the child finds inappropriate pictures. Again, if you think this is a good idea for other families but not yours, then you are the family most at risk. Any priest will tell you that this plague has reached pandemic proportions. Good priests will tell you that even families who go to the Latin Mass are by no means immune. In some sense, traditional families are the most prey to this pandemic, because pious children find porn almost as quickly as any child from a secular family, but the difference is that Catholic kids are better at hiding their shame, yes, even from the age of 3.   Get this book, because even families with “porn proof” computers have kids who are not “porn-proof.”   Your children are always smarter than your firewall.  If you are a Dad who uses porn—even occasionally—know this:  You are allowing real-live demons to enter your family’s home, the same demons that mysteriously draw your 5 and 10 year olds to start looking at porn. If you think this is an exaggeration, please read my blog post called Why You Should Stop Confessing Pornography.

Undivided Hearts: The Power of Celibacy

What does it mean to have an undivided heart for the Lord? “The unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.”—1 Cor 7:34

I gave this talk to homeschooling families that have taken literally God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” as the Old Testament says.  But the New Testament generally holds it to be a calling to be fruitful and multiply for the salvation of more souls for Jesus Christ’s kingdom.  Therefore, this talk is about why to encourage your children to be very open to the calling of celibacy for the salvation of even more souls than physical generation.

The how to encourage this was mentioned only at the end, during the Question/Answers.  I subtitled this talk:  Undivided Hearts: Allowing Your Child to Choose the Higher Pathway of Celibacy.

 

In Cena Domini

Tonight’s podcast is from the Traditional Latin Mass for the Supper of the Lord (Cena Domini.)  This sermon is about the connection between the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood, and why Jesus transfers His suffering and leadership to His priests.  We will see that both the leadership and the suffering of priests are for the life of the world.  

7 Priest-Myths Unveiled

Myth #1: A priest can give you permission to skip Sunday Mass if you had a very busy weekend (for example, a Saturday wedding.)

Truth: Sunday Mass is part of the Third Commandment. A priest can not dispense you from God’s commandments. No sooner could a priest give a frisky married man a dispensation on the 6th commandment for his travels than he could give a person a dispensation for fulfilling a matter of Divine Law. I blogged recently on the different levels of authority here. If you are sick or having a baby or travelling (i.e Mass would be impossible) then there is no sin in missing Sunday Mass. In that case, you don’t need a priest to give you a dispensation. It stands in Canon Law for you to be honest but generous before God. 1

 

Myth #2: A bishop or a pastor can tell the assistant priest (or parochial vicar) that he is following too many of the Church’s rules at his personal or public Mass. 

Truth: The priest is responsible for offering his own Mass worthily and well. In every pre-Vatican II Missal (probably going back 1,000 years or more) there are rubrics listed; any purposeful diversion from these imputes immediate mortal sin to the priest (not his bishop.)  No one has proven to me that this has been abrogated doctrinally in the past 50 years.  The priest is the extension of the bishop’s hand in the diocese, but he should be willing to lose his faculties before going against the tradition of the Church.  The bishop is the chief liturgist of the diocese, but even documents after Vatican II like Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004) give astounding power to the individual priest to follow the rules of the Roman Mass outlined in that document. If he has faculties, he needs no one’s permission to follow these rubrics.  This includes protection of the Eucharist: For people in sin who come to Holy Communion, the priest should never embarrass the person at the altar-rail. Rather, he should pastorally try to convince them of life-reform behind close doors. Should the communicant ignore the priest, and should the communicant be in public sin, the priest is then allowed to refuse them Holy Communion. In the next year, we will see cases of bishops denying priests this right, but the Vatican ruled in a 2000 document that “no ecclesiastical authority may dispense the minister of Holy Communion from this obligation in any case, nor may he emanate directives that contradict it.” No ecclesiastical authority includes the Pope, since we’re talking about a matter of Divine Law that a man can not change. Nevertheless, I predict that more cases (like this one that happened even before Amoris Laetitia) will catch priests and bishops into similar Eucharistic and doctrinal divisions that many predict could cause schism in Rome.  But first, I predict this story will first play out in the United States between bishops and probably more “neo-con” priests than even “trads,” based on simple demographics of who attends the Traditional Latin Mass.

 

Myth #3: A priest can be defrocked.

Truth: “Defrocked” is a silly Anglican term that the media mistakenly apply to Catholics. We have our own terms that you should know. First of all, even if a priest gets married, he remains a priest forever (See Ps 110 and Hebrews.)  As you learned in Catechism, there are three of the seven sacraments that leave an indeliable (un-erasable) seal upon your soul: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders. Marriage will not continue in heaven (Luke 20.) Holy Orders will no longer be practicing the sacraments in heaven, but whether the priest go to heaven or hell, he is marked forever in his soul (for all angels and demons to see!) as a priest in heaven or hell. Again, “defrocking” is an Anglican term. We Catholics have some other terms for priests who are inactive:
Suspension: This means the priest has the power to do the sacraments but no longer the right to do the sacraments (something extended by the bishop or Pope or head of his religious order.) Usually this priest got in trouble for something with his bishop.  However, an untold amount of saints were also suspended for doing the right thing.  For example,  Padre Pio was suspended twice, once for 10 years.  He was obedient, even though the authorities were unjust. This term is sometimes called “inactive” or “loss of faculties.”
Laicization: This is a process whereby a priest asks for dispensation from his vows, usually in order to get married. Ultimately, only the Pope can give it, even if by rubber-stamping. But the paperwork still goes through Rome, even in these times of odd decentralization.

 

Myth #4: Priests love it when you say “Without you, we wouldn’t have the Eucharist!”

Truth: We love the fact that you love Christ in the Blessed Sacrament more than us, but when you talk like that, it’s obvious you have a love of the Eucharist without a love of the priesthood. Here’s what I mean.  The priesthood actually includes 3 munera or gifts: 1) Teach. 2) Sanctify (sacraments). 3) Govern. Most neo-cons and even many traditionalists want their priests to give them the sacraments their way (à la Burger King) and then to not ruffle their feathers with too much besides that. Well, we’re not sacramental ATMs. You don’t get the sacraments without us also teaching and governing. If you just want the Eucharist alone, go to a Communion Service. If you want to live the Holy Sacrifice and experience fatherhood in the future life of the Catholic Church, then raise chaste sons to become heroic, manly, loving, sacrificial priests who are at one and the same time both servants and leaders—and of course, great teachers. Then, the people will follow men who are not only experts of the sacraments, but experts on the human heart.

 

Myth #5: It is a good idea for a priest to pray his Psalms.

Truth: Praying the daily Divine Office (Psalm rotation) is mandatory.  The public promise we take on the day of our ordination is even more binding that our daily Mass (except Sundays.) The Eastern Churches do not have her priests make such a promise, but  the Roman Church does, and the idea that this only includes Matins (Morning Prayer) and Vespers (Evening Prayer) is an urban legend.  The new Divine Office requires the priest to pray the Psalms a total of 5 times a day. The old Divine Office requires the priest to pray the Psalms a total of 8 times a day (doing the whole Psalter of 150 Psalms every single week, in Latin.) This is actually not only the tradition of the Church, it is the faith of Israel: The Jews prayed the Psalms a total of 7 times a day, as mentioned in Psalm 118/119: “I will praise you seven times a day.”

 

Myth #6: Priests are the least safe people to have around your children.

Truth: Priests are statistically the safest people to have around your children. Before getting into statistics, let me apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church for the thousands of priests who abused children and subsequently caused unknown numbers of Catholic families to leave the Church. I believe all those priests should go to prison for life. If they do not repent and confess in prison, they will burn in hell forever. There is no excuse for bishops who moved priests around. They shouldn’t retire in Rome. They should go to prison, too. You will hear no justification from me for this behavior, so I don’t expect the following statistics to heal the families who had someone commit suicide after being abused by a highly-trusted priest. But, we must also consider two things that the media is not telling us. First, pastors, priests and rabbis have the lowest rates of abuse of children. Teachers, doctors and farmers have the highest rates of harming children. Religious leaders are simply the safest. Among religious leaders, priests are statistically the safest. Non-Catholic Philip Jenkins at University of Pennsylvania has shown here that statistically, the rate of molestors among priests is 1.8%, lower than any other “profession.” Do you want to know who is the most dangerous people around your children? Male family members. Priestly celibacy is not the issue, especially since married men are statistically more likely to abuse children than unmarried. Most child abuse takes place within the home. The second issue that the media is silent about is the fact that 80% of the priests who molest children are homosexual. Even the USCCB was—at one point—transparent on this. Regarding the John Jay study, Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a member of the National Review Board, said here that the priest crisis revealed a “homosexual predation on American Catholic youth.” This is not shifting the blame.  It’s simply showing us that celibacy is clearly not the problem, especially since celibacy automatically requires the highest levels of self control. I say to people all the time: “If you marry a pervert, you have a married pervert. If you ordain a pervert, you have a priestly pervert.” The real question is not married priests. The real question is why the bishops in the 1970s and 1980s filled their seminaries with homosexual men. But you probably won’t hear much about that in the Boston Globe.

 

Myth #7: A priest can live without a woman in his life.

Truth: A priest can not live without a woman in his life. That is why we have the strongest devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I have never known a priest who prays five decades a day to fall into preaching doctrinal error.  Anyone (of any vocation) who prays 15 decades a day is nearly invincible against chastity falls.  And yes, you can quote me on that.  It’s not that God is counting how many prayers we pray. Rather, the tighter we are wrapped in the veil of the Immaculate Heart, the more shielded we will be from the missiles of the enemy that take down priests every day. Oremus pro invicem, let us pray for one another.


  1. Can. 1245 Without prejudice to the right of diocesan bishops mentioned in ⇒ can. 87, for a just cause and according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop, a pastor can grant in individual cases a dispensation from the obligation of observing a feast day or a day of penance or can grant a commutation of the obligation into other pious works. A superior of a religious institute or society of apostolic life, if they are clerical and of pontifical right, can also do this in regard to his own subjects and others living in the house day and night.

9/11 Hope

world-trade-center-cross

Bear with the background story before a bit of a show-stopper.

My good friend Msgr. Philip Reilly, founder of Helper of God’s Precious Infants is my hero of diocesan life.  This Irish priest from NYC fasts all day (until 5pm) in front of an abortion mill in Brooklyn.   God has closed over 60 abortion clinics due to his work.  He trained the Franciscan Friars in sidewalk counseling.  They believe he’ll be canonized (literally, not figuratively.)   This man lives all three munera of the priesthood to the maximum!  (See my last post to get that one.)

In any case, he was in front of an abortion clinic in Brooklyn when he could see the towers in Manhattan go down 14 years ago today.  Msgr. Reilly had a priest friend in lower Manhattan at the time, and this is a little known (but true) Catholic story from this day in American history:

After the World Trade Center towers had been hit, several pumpers of men arrived to help the victims.  Was it 50 firefighters?  Was it 100 firefighters?  Was it the north tower or the south tower?  Msgr. Reilly is too busy to confirm all the facts of this story, but here’s the basics of his story:

Before the firefighters went into that burning building to try to save a few fellow Americans, one of those men saw this priest-friend of Msgr. Reilly.  He said to him:

“Father, I think this fulfills the requirements

for a general absolution.”

Father agreed.  All 50+ men got on their knees.  All men received absolution.  All men stood up and went into the tower.  Every one of those firefighters died that day for our country.

These may not be Christian martyrs at the hands Islam, but they laid down their lives as Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”—John 15:13  Having received general absolution, and dying for our country—I bet every one of them was saved by Jesus at their particular judgment.