Surviving the present crisis in the Church

Crucifixion of St. Peter

In the long history of the Church, many popes and bishops have had the same shortcomings as Peter, and with great damage to souls; but if it happens that we know of some like them in the Church today, we ought to be filled with the most profound compassion for them personally, while regretting, and perhaps protesting against their blindness. Their responsibility before God is incalculable, their souls are in great danger, and we have a corresponding duty to come to their aid by our prayers and penances.

What I have said about popes and bishops applies also, of course, though in lesser degree, to priests.  The tragedy is, as history shows that many unfortunate men consent to be made priests, bishops, or even popes, without taking seriously the doctrine of the Cross, or striving for the high sanctity which their state of life requires of them.  But the more a lay person perceives any of us fall short of what we ought to be, the more we need his prayers and compassion.

If the clergy have a duty to serve the faithful and set a Christ-like example, the faithful on their part have a corresponding duty to help sanctify the clergy by prayer and penance; and so, if they perceive defects in us but neglect to pray and to cover our  defects with charity, they stand in danger of being cursed by God in the way that Chaanan, the grandson of Noah was.  (Cf. 9.20-25)

Our Lord’s reaction to Peter’s attempt to give Him guidance was as sharp as it was instantaneous:  He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan, you are a scandal to me; for you do not mind the things of God,  but those of men.” What a humiliation for the man to whom it has just been said that he would be the rock on which the Church would be built, and that he would be given charge of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven!  But is there not a lesson here for all of us?

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