"I would still like to see him stay"

Hi, Fr. Phil,

When we embark on the Lenten journey each year on Ash Wednesday, it seems as though we are given so many days to make a change in our hearts and habits. Once again, those days have slipped by me too quickly as we approach Holy Week again.

I went down to West Palm Beach to visit my sister and some friends, back at the beginning of March. That seems like so long ago. My sister works for the Diocese of Palm Beach, and has for the last ten years. They were so happy with their latest Bishop, after the last one resigned four years ago. While I was there, on March 5th, actually, the bishop resolved a conflict in the parish she works. His compassion and pastoral skills really amazed me. Three days later, he gave his resignation. Both Palm Beach bishops resigned on sexual charges, as you probably know.

Despite all the bad press, which is making the entire issue much worse, I would still like to see him stay. It seemed so appropriate that this occurred during Lent. Perhaps we will begin to deal with the widespread scope of abuse. Perhaps we will come to more precise definitions of what constitutes “abuse.” Perhaps we will see that we are all broken and human, even Bishops. It is my hope that forgiveness will be extended to this man by his people.

For me, it saddens me greatly. The Church is my Home, my Family. With my own family of origin, there were terrible abuses, wrongs that brought me decades of nightmares and terror. I have learned to forgive my parents, though it took many years. I look on the Family of my Church, and have to smile despite myself. The deeds or misdeeds of bishops, priests, nuns or lay members do not distort my vision. These people walk beside me on the road. They stumble and fall, just as I do. I pray for them, as I do for my parents and brother and sisters. I thank God for the grace they bring me, just as my own parents did. Like little children, we seem to think that God can not see us in the night of our souls. I understand that. Maybe a saint would not be tortured by that particular notion, though I know they are tempted as well.

There is no answer except unwavering faith in the essence of the Church. You know my love for the Sacraments. It is there that all else falls away, and the Church is pure and radiant. Beyond the failures of each of us, the Light still burns brightly. I believe that, I have great hope.

Yesterday, I picked up the blank Paschal candle to decorate for my parish. It is beautiful, smelling slightly of beeswax, flawless and creamy white. I began to sketch out the pattern last night, and my pencil slipped many times, scratching the surface outside the boundaries of the design. In previous years, that distressed me, but I have learned that wax is a forgiving medium. Upon the white wax, I will add waxes of many colors. Today I begin with purple. It brings with it my own deepening repentance, as I reflect on the meaning of Lent and the great mystery of Forgiveness. Our Church brings us a hope that nothing else in the world can offer. I have hope.

You remain in my prayers every day



Good to hear from you, Joanne.

I appreciate your reflection on our common human weakness and forgiveness. Easy to lose sight of...All this is too sad. I did try to say something about this subject last night: /holythursdayhomily.html

I agree that we need to say exactly what we are talking about. Pedophilia and pederasty, while both terrible, are two very different things. I was approached homosexually a couple of times when I was a teenager. It was something I had no interest in and while I was confused, I was also able to just turn the person away. One presumes that adults have learned greater skills in dealing with harrassment. Of course this is something women are smarter about than men. Moms and dads have to orient their children on recognizing red flags, unfortunately in regard to priests as well as all adults. Hopefully we will never again have the situation as in Boston where a priest known to have abused children is returned to ministry.

I appreciate your prayers for me - and for all priests.

God bless,

Fr. Phil

Pedophilia and Teaching of Bible

Other Letter regarding Boston Scandal

Letter from Former Catholic

Homily on Boston Scandal

Is Celibacy the Problem?

"Catholicism is the Answer"