I am often irritated at how quickly people rush to shout "OFF WITH HIS HEAD!" when it comes to priests and bishops.
It is like a flashback to the 4th century North Africa when the Donatists insisted on a Church of the pure alone. No coversion. No room for sinners. No possibility of future changes. "Get outta here!"
The fact is that we Christians belong to an ecclesia permixta malis et bonis, a Church mixed through with good and bad people.
The Lord will sort us out.
But this applies to the whole human race, does it not? Prescinding from religion, can’t we reasonably recognize that people make mistakes? Sometimes terrible and evil mistakes?
Do those people then instantly lose any right to dignity or compassion?
Some people think so.
Non-Catholics… non-Christians also get down into a nasty narrow ditch of presumption and accusation.
I am therefore irritated, but not surprised, by something I read from The Catholic League (my emphases):
ROLL CALL SMEARS INNOCENT PRIEST
Catholic League president Bill Donohue today accused the Washington, D.C. newspaper, Roll Call, of smearing Father Daniel Coughlin; the Chicago priest has been the House Chaplain since 2000:
“We have always held Roll Call in high regard, but after the hit job on Father Coughlin, we no longer do. What the newspaper did was classic yellow journalism.
“Yesterday, Roll Call made a big splash on the Internet with its ‘Breaking News’ story on Father Coughlin. The headline, ‘Chaplain Managed Abusive Priests,’ gave the impression that Coughlin either did something illegal or something immoral. The fact is he did neither.
“In today’s print edition, Roll Call discusses how Coughlin ministered to troubled priests in Chicago. For example, it says today that he played the role of ‘caretaker, providing services ranging from room and board to spiritual support and advocacy.’ Coughlin admits to ‘pastoring priests’ and the article mentions that he ‘was not responsible for overseeing the men.’
“Now it seems plain that in every segment of the population there will be men and women who go astray. It also seems plain that if the community or organization in which these troubled souls live actually care a whit about them, services will be offered to deal with their malady. Indeed, to do nothing would suggest callous indifference to their fate.
“So this is it. Father Coughlin, before being named House Chaplain—a position he earned after considerable controversy that involved me personally — tended to the needs of troubled priests. For this he should be applauded, but that is not the message that Roll Call wants to convey.
“Morton Kondracke, the executive editor of Roll Call, needs to extend an apology not only to Father Coughlin, but to the Catholic community as well for exploiting the issue of priestly sexual abuse.”
Susan A. Fani
Director of Communications
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
New York, NY 10123
I agree. Fr. Coughlin is owed an apology.
Here is what Roll Call wrote:
Coughlin served as the archdiocesan point man for counseling troubled priests, including those accused of sexual misconduct.
But Roll Call tries to leave the impression that Fr. Coughlin was engaged in coddling priest abusers.
Fr. Coughlin had petitioned the release from prison of a priest who had molested children, though that petition was refused.
“I was dealing with priests that had problems themselves and maybe were causing problems on a staff or causing problems in the community,” Coughlin said in an interview with Roll Call on Monday. “And so in that sense I was pastoring priests.”
What have we become if we simply throw anyone who has ever sinned under the bus?
"You SINNED?!?! OUT WITH YOU into the cooollllld where nobody will ever show you compassion again. Go DIE now, alone and unloved. We will prevent anyone from ever helping you get to heaven or preseve any dignity!."
Not only that, we have to spurn and revile anyone who ever tried to help a sinner.