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Friday, November 09, 2007

This leaves a bad taste.

It seems that Fr. Francis Stone, the host of EWTN's Life on the Rock show, is going on leave because he has fallen in love with a widowed mother. That's not the part that bothers me, though the questioning of a priestly vocation is agonizing and deserves prayer.

Two things bother me: First, that it had to be broadcast this way. A simple statement that he was taking leave and that it was not because of abuse or other moral turpitude would have been sufficient. As the second commenter here puts it, the letter has the whiff of a put-up job. Compare this situation with that of Fr. Real Bourque, a priest with a history of admitted child sexual abuse, who vanished from the airwaves without explanation, much less a letter read on air, and stayed at EWTN until retirement.

Which brings me to my second problem with this story--the reaction. Why the vitriol? He hasn't raped a child, dipped into the parish till or committed any immoral act that can be discerned, yet he's being called childish and the result "diabolical" because he's discerning whether he might be called to that other sacramental vocation, marriage.

Are you kidding me? He doesn't deserve the hammering he's taking. The orthodox Catholic firing squad convenes for yet another "counselling" session.

Marriage is a good, and not a "lesser" good. Period. Comparing this situation to adultery or some other form of moral turpitude is offensive beyond words. My toned down response is "get bent." And let's not forget that the Catholic Church is not of one mind on priestly celibacy, not even in the Latin church (Pastoral Provision, anyone?).

I appreciate, support and encourage the celibate witness. I think it's essential and is an invaluable sign in our unbalanced times. I don't advocate for a married priesthood because it won't. Solve. The. Problem(s). Just because we're in a comparative vocations dry spell now (itself improving) doesn't mean this is the new normal. And, by all means, we have to support our priests and bishops. It's a sacrifice that should be praised to the heavens and we don't appreciate it enough.

But, on the other hand, we have to show mercy and understanding for those who can't carry the priestly calling to the finish line. Especially when he is drawn to marriage, people. Locker room chiding and the like don't cut it.

Tu es sacerdos in aeternam. Whether you like it or not. Even when the title goes from "Father" to "Dad."

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