A couple of sentences at the end of the article* struck me.
‘Why has the Catholic priesthood wanted to present itself over the centuries as perfect, as impregnable? Since the child abuse scandal… this facade has crumbled and our priests are now humbler as a result and fewer in number.’
Read any of the Gospels and we see men who were far from impregnable. Look at the last chapter (21, 14-17) of John:
This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to his disciples, after he was risen from the dead. When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep.
We all know about Peter’s betrayal: this scene of forgiveness and mission came after that; it came in the early days of the New World Order. No-one tried to cover up Peter’s terrible lapse, to pretend it had not happened. No-one made him out to be perfect.
I’m grateful to our own Fr Daniel Weatherley who likened St Peter’s Chair to those held by professors, who bring to the post all their wisdom and experience. Peter was a man of experience, and of hard-won wisdom.
Let’s pray with him: ‘Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.’
And listen out for the call. Who will I be asked to feed today or tomorrow. What can I offer them?
*Stephen Hough, Struggles of the calling, the Tablet, 17.2.2018, p13.