Recently, a very prominent and popular priest in our diocese has caused scandal with a woman. He very possibly could leave the priesthood to get married. Of course, the press has plastered the story everywhere, and brought out the usual comments about abolishing celibacy. One national newspaper has even taken a poll about the church making celibacy optional, and has made sure to include prominently the comments of Catholics who profess support for the priest, his divorced girlfriend, and his choice. It truly is a sad time for the Church and the community. But how does this (and other scandals) truly affect Catholics? How does it affect you?
I’ve been thinking and praying about this today. How does this affect me as a member of the faithful? How am I supposed to react when scandals happen, as they always do? Truly, I hate to even mention it to anyone. I emailed my pastor to get his opinion, and have read a few articles, but it seems like such a sadness. Perhaps for some it is an opportunity to gossip and revel in every detail, or to use the scandal to further their agenda, but really it is time to pray for all involved in the scandal, including us.
In the history of the Church, there have always been scandals. Judas comes to mind, and of course, the priestly scandals a few years ago. There have been bad popes in our past. Truly, scandals occur every day in the Church. Most are small, but many have serious, deep repercussions, like the Reformation, a most horrible breach that separates Christians to this day.
It is how we deal with these scandals that helps us climb out of the pit of despair. If we try to pretend they don’t exist, or if we try to cover them up, more damage will be done.
What we need to do is keep focus. Focus on what Christ wants from us, what our responsibilities are. We have to keep our eyes on Christ. If we do that we will be OK. It is harder if you know people involved, but the most important thing to remember is to keep focus. What exactly does that mean? That means pay attention to the job at hand. If you have an apostolate, work harder at it. If you are raising a family, try to do it the best you can. In other words, pay attention to the life you are supposed to live and ignore things that don’t involve you. MYOB.
Mind Your Own Business. Now we tend to use that phrase to describe when people are interfering in others affairs, but if you use the term literally, it really means to pay attention to YOUR life and the things you can control. Don’t let the failings of others affect you and your life. You should certainly learn from others when they fall, or learn to be aware of certain problems that could come up. One example is when someone steals from the Church. You certainly don’t want to pretend that did not happen, but use it as an opportunity for putting in place certain controls to prevent it happening again.
But you can’t let a scandal distract you from your task at hand, which is to get closer to God. I think that the devil enjoys using scandals to distract us from what we really should be working on, which is spreading the Kingdom of Christ. We have to pray harder and deeper. Take more time out for prayer and talk to the Lord constantly throughout the day. Think of HIM, not the scandal, not the gossip, and you will progress on the road to God. Which, of course, is all that matters.