Monday, April 04, 2011

Mr. Gerard Villemure of Goffstown, New Hampshire gets it right

Area Catholics are reacting to House Majority leader D.J. Bettencourt's highly inappropriate description of Bishop John McCormack as a "pedophile pimp."  In an article published in The Union Leader, Goffstown resident Gerard Villemure responded in a most beautiful way.  Mr. Villemure was quoted as having said, "...we know the Bishop has problems, but we have to be respectful of our priests and bishop..It was uncalled for.  It's too bad.  It hurts the Church...We are all human."

There is a man who is not far from the Kingdom of Heaven.  How easy it is to forget  the words of St. Augustine: interficere errorem, diligere errantem: kill the error, love the one who errs.  Put another way, hate the sin, love the sinner.  Judging by many of the horrific comments which accompany the Union Leader article, it would appear that far too many people have forgotten this maxim.

We expect much from our priests.  And much more from a Bishop of the House of God.  In a book entitled "God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald," then Cardinal Ratzinger and now Pope Benedict XVI is asked a question by German journalist Seewald:

"If they [priests] have been called by Christ himself, why are there bad priests?  Why are there even bad bishops?  In the case of some of those he has chosen the Lord obviously seems to have made a mistake."

Cardinal Ratzinger's response:

"It certainly can happen that people slip through, as it were, without really having received a call.  But there are also 'failed callings,' that is, callings that are not truly lived out.  The strange thing is...God entrusts himself to such fragile vessels.  That he has taken such a horrible risk with the Church.  He has put himself into hands that betray him time and again.  And he has left us the opportunity of falling and of being corrupted, so that he still has to support the Church himself again and again through these very tools that have proved unsuitable.  It is a consolation, on the one hand, that the Lord is stronger than the sins of men, but, on the other hand, a great challenge for all those who have turned toward this calling and who believe they have received it to let it truly mature in fellowship with Christ." (p. 431).

This whole unfortunate affair could prove to be a teaching moment for the Church and the wider community.  For we all have to learn how to be more merciful: "They said to him, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.  Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.  So what do you say?'...Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.  But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, 'Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8: 7).

We all know what happened.  Each and every person who had been holding up a stone to hurl at the woman who had been caught in adultery dropped their stone and left the woman alone with Jesus.  Doesn't Bishop McCormack deserve the same? 

It would be so easy to just distance ourselves from Bishop McCormack.  But such an approach would be wrong.  As Dr. Germain Grisez has said, "When the Church suffers from the shameful misdeeds of a leading member, no one should distance himself or herself from the shame by joining the company of scorners; rather, everyone should accept some share in the shame and work to heal the wound."

1 comment:

Ellen Wironken said...

Don’t abandon God because of ‘attacks of evil’ in church, pope says

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI urged young people not to abandon their faith in God because of the “attacks of evil” within the church.

“Carry intact the fire of your love in this church every time that men have obscured her face,” he said in a foreword to a new catechism edited specifically for young people.

The new “Youth Catechism,” also called “YouCat,” will be included in each pilgrim backpack for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid.

The pope said he wanted to supplement the Catechism of the Catholic Church by translating it “into the language of young people and make its words penetrate their world.”

In the foreword, the pope urged everyone to study the catechism “with passion and perseverance” either alone, in study groups or in exchanges with others online.

Today’s Christians really need to understand their faith more than ever before in order to resist modern day challenges and temptations, he wrote.

“You have need of divine help if you do not want your faith to dry up as a dewdrop in the sun, if you do not want to succumb to the temptations of consumerism, if you do not want your love to be drowned in pornography, if you do not want to betray the weak and the victims of abuse and violence,” he wrote.

“You must know what you believe; you must know your faith with the same precision with which a specialist in information technology knows the (operating) system of a computer; you must know it as a musician knows his piece,” the foreword said.

While not specifically mentioning the clerical sex abuse crisis, the pope acknowledged the effect it has had on the faithful and said “the community of believers has been wounded in recent times by the attacks of evil” and sin in the heart of the church.

“Do not take this as a pretext to flee from God’s presence; you yourselves are the body of Christ, the church!” he told young people.

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