Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Scandal, Justice & Mercy
This morning I read with great sadness, Fr. Euteneuer's statement regarding his exit from Human Life International (HLI). I also read the statement from his Bishop to the diocese and the press release from HLI. (all located at the 1st link above)
Ahhh...human weakness, we all share it. But think about that struggle to remain in the will of God, especially in the light of actively engaging Satan via exorcism! That is what Fr. Euteneuer was doing. What tremendous strength one priest must have, what courage and fortitude does it take, and what deception must have been present to make a faithful priest of 22 years lapse in his vow of chastity?
It was a failure in judgment. Not preconceived, but unexpected and traumatic to both individuals involved. A transgression with extreme consequences: public confession, humiliation, formal rebuke from the hierarchy, counseling, etc. It's tragic. But, he admitted fault; he took responsibility. God bless him!
And this is where my heart sinks thinking about all the priests, but one in particular, who are stranded in some unimaginable limbo of "guilt by accusation". The priests whose ministries, lives and reputations are destroyed by the allegations of abuse. The priests who staunchly maintain that they are innocent. What becomes of those men, those priests, who are accused and punished in a way that leaves them to linger in uncertainty? Will their priestly faculties ever be restored, can they really ever serve as priests in active ministry again, will people ever trust them -- will anyone ever decide their fate?
Fr. Euteneuer, admitted his fault and is receiving what he admittedly justly and rightly deserves. It's time for those priests against whom charges can not be confirmed or corroborated to be shown some mercy, restored to ministry and allowed to heal in light of their sacrifice for the Church they love and the people they have worthily served. Sometimes the accusations can be false and the claims of innocence can be real. We must also believe those priests and find a way to show them justice and mercy.