THE SINS OF THE MEN OF THE CHURCH
1. The men within the Church do not sin; they have no sins because they have repented and their sins had been remitted. They have an abundance of faith plus the guidance of St. Peter and his successors.
Those who are within the church are in the state of habitual grace possessing the three theological virtues and the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. That is a spiritual state that is impregnable to sin and errors. The Church is the Bride of Christ and God would not allow the slightest evil to stain that Bride. St Cyril wrote saying that the Church is holy with no sin, no errors and no heresies. She is the killer of heresies. And Pope Benedict repeated this teaching at the feast of St. Peter and Paul.
If ever sin or error enter the Church then the gates of hell had prevailed against her, which is contrary to the promise made by Christ to St. Peter, says St. Thomas of Aquinas. And the Holy Father in the same homily said the same thing. That the danger to the Church today is from the atheistic and secularistic society whose influence prevent souls from entering the Church.
2. So what are these much talked about sins of clerics that are haunting the Church today? These sins of abusing children and of improper sexual conducts with other males are sins of those who are outside the Church. And these are what are preventing the priests from entering the Church and becoming Catholics.
The title of this article should be: the sins of the men who think they are inside the church but who in fact are outside the church. Let us see these so-called sins of the men of the Church.
3. In Moral theology there are two kinds of sins: the sins of the soul and the sins of the flesh. This is based on the fact that man has a body and a soul. Examples of sins of the soul are Pride and heresy while the sins of the flesh are fornication, adultery and the much publicized sexual abuse of a few priests.
The sins of the soul are worst sins. The sexual abuse sins are less grievous compared to the sins of the soul. Of course sins of the flesh are more shameful and more embarrassing to the Church. But they are less grievous as an offense against God. The sin of the angels was a sin of the soul because they had no bodies. They were not given a second chance. While the sin of Adam and Eve was more a sin of the body, gluttony.
When one commits a sin of the flesh there could be a consent of the soul or none as in the case of the sins of passion. But when we analyze sin for the reform of our lives we are supposed to look for our 'predominant fault.' In the sin of sex abuse the predominant fault is Pride, injustice and sin against the virtue of religion. Sex abuse is just the symptom of the predominant fault. We must remedy both the predominant fault and the symptom but emphasis must be placed on the predominant fault.
4. It is devilish that the Church's attention, efforts and expenses are focused on these sins of the body making the Church neglect the more serious evils among her clergy. Comparing the sins of the Scribes with the sins of prostitutes and Publicans, Christ said that more prostitutes enter the kingdom of heaven than pharisees. In enumerating the sins besieging the Church the Holy Father mentioned vanity (a form of pride) but did not mention sex abuse. So why concentrate on the prostitution of the clergy that makes them like prostitutes and neglect their pride that makes them like devils. To focus on the sex abuse and neglect the sins of Pride and ignorance would be a grave error in the spiritual life.
5. The great saints, like St. Gregory and St. Thomas of Aquinas wrote strongly about overcoming Pride because that is the foundation of all evils in men. The sexual abuse sins of the clergy can only be remedied by overcoming pride with humility, just like all other sins. That's why Christ required of us simply to learn humility and meekness, "learn from Me." He did not tell us to learn how to cure sex abuse. That would make spirituality too complicated
Even Pope Benedict obviously is giving only lip service in apologizing for these sex abuse crimes probably pressured by his Curia. And his reluctance is obvious because he knows we have greater problems that need immediate attention, like the combined problem of pride and ignorance common among the priests that prompted him to call the 'Year of the Priest' which unfortunately did not seem to have attained its goal. No fault of the Holy Father. Many Bishops did not follow the schema given by the Pope in his opening address.
6. If we miss this point the problem of the priests will never be solved. Right now we are solving it like giving aspirin for all illness. The aspirin just removes the fever but not the cause of the fever. And all published remedies given by bishops for this spiritual ailment have so far consisted in covering up the symptoms or merely reducing the symptoms rather than curing the illness. Didn't the monk St. Peter Damian during his time aided the Pope in solving exactly this same problem by analyzing the problem and giving the right solution? This crime of our priests is just another vice, a consequence of original sin. And the Catholic Church has all the solution to cure vices. St. Thomas, himself, gave us all the solutions in his Summa. His treatise had been reprinted in popular form in a book entitled "The Secret enemies of the Priesthood." The Catholic Church has a treasury of knowledge on how to handle this problem which is small compared to Pride and injustice.
7. The sins of pride and injustice are worst and difficult to overcome. The very training in the seminary seems to foment these vices. Many graduates in the seminary thinks they know everything. And these are the people who become future bishops and curial officers. For the past years their pride and injustice had victimized countless priests. We cannot imagine the number of priests that had been unjustly treated by superiors, bishops, parochial, diocesan and even curial offices as high as the Roman Rota. And their victims are priests. We are not even talking of the injustices done to husbands and wives whose marriages were summarily annulled at the caprice of the matrimonial courts because a party believing their marriage is valid had not cooperated in the investigation. Let us look back at the life of Blessed Antonio Rosmini and Padre Pio. Weren't they treated badly. And this mistreatment had become common fare in the lives of saintly priests. But since the victims were precisely saintly the news never hit the newspapers. The greater evil that is preventing souls from entering the Church are pride and injustice. Pope Benedict added 'Greed' quoting the Benedictine monk St. Ambrose of Aulpert who noticed this vice devastate the Church during his time.
8. Today we see the bishops stumbling in panic in preventing their diocese going bankrupt to pay the suits while summarily dismissing priests who had served the Church for so long but doing nothing to cure the malady. Isn't ingratitude more serious than this sin of the flesh? There is no end to the list of sins more serious than the sins of the flesh.