Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

I knew that the responses to the first post would be strong. They reveal some interesting perspectives on the Ministerial (Ordained) Priesthood in relation to the Priesthood of the Laity.

I understand and agree with commenters who point out the unequal relationship between a priest and a woman under his pastoral care. It is unequal, and as my friend Erin Manning rightly points out, is analagous to a psychologist having relations with a client. It’s bad. Really bad. And really sinful.

I do take issue with those who say that because the priest is the head of the community, because he stands in for Christ, he is to be held to a higher standard.


To do so is to absolve the laity of their EQUAL obligations that derive from the Priesthood of the Laity, of which they are all members. I would further posit that much of what leads to a 50% divorce rate has everything to do with the laity not living up to the same level of responsibility that ministerial priests have.

Yes, priests are responsible for shepherding souls. So am I as the priest of my home. I am responsible for being a role model of holiness for my wife and children, every bit as much of a role model as the guy in the rectory is supposed to be. My wife is called to that same level of responsibility. We are responsible for the formation of our children’s minds, bodies, and souls.

Regina and I bear responsibility for the care and nurture of one another’s souls.

It is a daunting responsibility in Holy Matrimony, and I question how many fully grasp it and work at it.

As the blessing of the father says in the Baptism ceremony: “He with his wife will be the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith. May they also be the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith in what they say and do.”

How many of us in the laity take those words to heart in our homes? The truth is that our homes, our marriages, our families, in the aggregate, are a mess. Some 80% of Catholics openly defy the Church in the use of contraception, and teach their children to do the same. At Mass on Sunday, virtually everyone receives communion, yet there is seldom a line of more than 3 people for confession on Saturday. Pornography is a tens-of-billions of dollars a year business.

Who are we kidding?

In the pro-life movement, the greatest heroes, those who are applauded the loudest are the repentant mothers who killed their own children, repentant abortionists who have each killed scores of thousands of babies, and the Abby Johnsons.

Think about that for a moment in relation to the allegations against Father Euteneuer and the response he has received.

I’m not discounting the gravity of his failings here. I’m excoriating the self-righteous who apply a different standard to our priests, and in so doing implicitly hold the priesthood of the laity, of the home, to a lower standard of holiness. It’s as convenient as it is uncharitable.

From what has been released, Fr. Euteneuer has confessed his sin and is working toward healing this rupture however he can. He is one of our own, a fellow Catholic, one of our priests, and a pro-life warrior who has stumbled.


But certainly no worse than the many whose sins he has absolved in nearly a quarter of a century. That counts for something with me. If we are to treat his priesthood, his life as worthless and irredeemable because of his failings, then we have seriously lost our way.

“Blessed are those who show mercy, for mercy shall be theirs.”

The converse of that statement should be unthinkable for those who point the finger of condemnation at Father Euteneuer.

Update: We’re having a Novena for Fr. E and all those affected by his actions. See the details here.

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“I thought that by hanging on to my guilt and shame I was proving how much I really loved you.”

So said the mother in a letter written to her aborted baby.

It was a rare and privileged moment of grace, to be permitted into the sanctuary of a mother’s heart at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court; the very site thirty-seven years ago where the wheels for the greatest holocaust ever known in human history were set in motion.

We were gathered there yesterday with seventy mothers and fathers who were cheered on by over three hundred thousand marchers passing by shouting their love and affirmation. Hundreds stopped and pressed in at any given moment to hear from those victims of the great lie telling us their stories and vowing to be Silent no More. Click here to see video clips of these heroes before the Supreme Court.

Of all the moving testimony, that one quote from the mother’s letter to her baby stood out. It seemed to pierce the heart of the matter, the very essence of true forgiveness, genuine liberation. It was a lesson for us all.

How often in our relationships, when we hurt the ones we love, do we hold on to guilt and shame? As though such eternal guilt and shame is evidence of the depths of our love. Is this what our loved ones want for us? Eternal shackles? Do we demand as much from those who’ve hurt us?

No. As Saint Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13, love does not keep a record of wrongs, but rejoices in the truth.

The truth here is that these women and men were forgiven long before they knew it. They march not out of shame and guilt, but out of love. They march not for themselves, but for us. One by one they ascend the podium before the Supreme Court and with tearful remembrance flowing from hearts filled with love, they offer us their agony as a warning, and as the objective evidence that abortion’s victims are not only those left behind at the clinic.

Most of all, they offer us their stories as evidence that with God, all things are possible, that no sin is too great to be forgiven. That forgiveness is not merely the commutation of our sentence, but being restored to our full dignity as the royal sons and daughters of the great High King.

This mother taught us yesterday the lightness of being that comes with our Father’s merciful love.

She taught us how to be free.

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