On this rather dank evening I’d like to be able to cheer you up with some Good News, but alas I can’t.
A few days ago I learned of a parish priest of the Dublin archdiocese who at Sunday Mass recently announced a double celebration:
1) The silver jubilee of his ordination;
2) The fact that he was leaving the priesthood to live with his bit of crackling—a married woman.
The congregation received this news with a round of applause, and a collection was taken up for him. There is no reason to believe that this parish is significantly different from any other in the capital.
To make matters worse, I understand that the archdiocese are considering offering this priest a job—no doubt at a far higher salary than he could have expected if he had remained true to his vocation.
Of course he’s not the first priest who can’t keep his trousers on. But in my more uncharitable moments I would prefer the old days, when the parishioners might have burned down the presbytery with this incontinent cleric inside. At least that would be an indication that they took their religion seriously.
Way back in the 1950s I knew of a young Irish PP in England, in a rural and extensive parish who used to preach excellent and edifying sermons on death and the Last Judgment. Then he fell desperately in love with a young single woman who had come to him for instruction in the Catholic Faith. The pair decided they just couldn’t bear to live apart. When they eloped, it was not only his parishioners who were deeply saddened and scandalised, but many of the local Protestants as well. Everyone realised that this was a betrayal including, I understand, the young PP himself.
Now such conduct is seen as somehow courageous and liberating, even where the liaison is compounded by adultery.