St. Alphonsus De Liguori, a Doctor of the Church and a moral theologian, explains that, "The Lord ordained in Leviticus that for the sin of a single priest a calf should be offered, as well as for the sins of the entire people. From this Innocent III concludes that the sin of a priest is as grievous as the sins of the whole people. The reason is, says the Pontiff, that by his sin the priest leads the entire people into sin ('Unde conjicitur quod peccatum Sacerdotis totius multitudinis peccato coaequatur, quia Sacerdos in suo peccato totam fecit delinquere multitudinem' - In Consecr. Pont. s. I.)
And, long before, the Lord himself said the same: 'If the priest that is anointed shall sin, he maketh the people to offend.' Hence, St. Augustine, addressing priests, says, 'Do not close heaven: but this you do if you give to others a bad example to lead a wicked life.' Our Lord said one day to St. Bridget, that when sinners see the bad example of the priest, they are encouraged to commit sin, and even begin to glory in the vices of which they were before ashamed. Hence our Lord added that worse maledictions shall fall on the priest than on others, because by his sinful life he brings himself and others to perdition.'...says St. John Chrysostom, the life of the priest is the root from which the people, who are the branches, receive nutriment.
St. Ambrose also says that priests are the head from which virtue flows to the members, that is, to seculars. The whole head is sick, says the Prophet Isaias;...from the sole of the foot unto the top of the head there is no soundness therein. St. Isidore explains this passage in the following words: 'This languishing head is the priest that commits sin, and that communicates his sin to the whole body.' St. Leo weeps over this evil, saying, 'How can health be found in the body if the head be not sound?' Who, says St. Bernard, shall seek in a sink the limpid water of the spring? Shall I, adds the saint, seek counsel from the man that knows not how to give counsel to himself? Speaking of the bad example of princes, Plutarch says, that it poisons not a single cup, but the public fountain; and thus, because all draw from the fountain, all are poisoned. This may be said with greater truth of the bad example of priests; hence Eugene III has said that bad Superiors are the principal causes of the sins of inferiors...St. Bernardine of Sienna writes that many, seeing the bad example of the scandalous ecclesiastic, begin even to waver in faith, and thus abandon themselves to vice, despising the sacraments, hell, and heaven." (St. Alphonsus De Liguori, Dignity and Duties of the Priest, pp. 142-144, 149).
Father John Franck, Assumptionist assistant general in Rome, acknowledges that "we need good shepherds." But, anxious to assign the blame for a lack of such good shepherds on the laity - the People of God - Fr. Franck has been quoted in The Catholic Free Press as having said that, "Unless the laity begins to be mindful of the demands of their own Christian commitments, of their radical other-worldliness, there is no hope that the clergy will find the strength to do so. Only a Church of mystics can realistically expect their clergy to be saints." (CFP, August 3rd edition).
The Word of God, however, resounds throughout the ages: "But let no one protest, let no one complain; with you is my grievance, O priests! You shall stumble in the day, and the prophets shall stumble with you at night...My people perish for want of knowledge! Since you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from my priesthood; since you have ignored the law of your God.." (Hosea 4: 4-6).
For years the Church in the United States (and other corners of the Church throughout the world) have succumbed to the disease of modernism and the leaven of infidelity which is dissent from the Magisterium. This spiritual dry rot, according to Our Lady in her messages to Father Stefano Gobbi of the Marian Movement of Priests, is the direct result of unfaithful priests who have failed to offer the wheat of sound doctrine and have instead offered the chaff of theological dissent.
Our Lady has referred to such issenting and apostate clerics as "mute dogs." God's Holy Word, which these unfaithful priests have largely abandoned, is most clear:
"Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will will take care to punish your evil deeds. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock...Both prophet and priest are godless! In my very house I find their wickedness, says the Lord. Hence their way shall become for them slippery ground. In the darkness they shall lose their footing, and fall headlong; Evil I will bring upon them: the year of their punishment, says the Lord." (Jeremiah 23: 1-2; 10-12).
The languishing head communicates his sin to the whole body. Not the other way around.