Our Response to Unworthy Priests and Bishops

I have begun in earnest to read Cardinal Sarah’s latest book. His writings and discourses are always chock full of wisdom, doctrine, and the saints. He is a walking encyclopedia. But more than a source of information, it is evident that he has really internalized and appropriated the faith in a marvelous way. He is a living witness.

Many are struggling right now in the Church. These are times of scandals and divisions. Our response must always be to recognize that the Church remains the one that Christ founded — “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” (John 6:68). However, many are still finding it difficult to persevere. This book is for them and for all who are in any way concerned. Look at what the Cardinal says about unworthy priests and bishops:

Dear friends, your pastors are full of faults and imperfections. But despising them is not the way to build Church unity. Do not be afraid to demand of them the Catholic faith, the sacraments of divine life. Remember the words of Saint Augustine: “Let Peter baptize, this is the one [Jesus] who baptizes;.. Let Judas baptize, this is the one who baptizes!” The most unworthy priest of all is still the instrument of divine grace when he celebrates the sacraments. See how much God loves us! He consents to handing over his Eucharistic Body into the sacrilegious hands of miserable priests. If you think that your priests and bishops are not saints, then be one for them. Do penance, fast to make reparation for their defects and their cowardice. That is the only way that anyone can bear another’s burden. (page 19, my emphases)

As I write and post this, it is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The Lord appeared to Francis and told him to rebuild his Church; Francis immediately busied himself with fixing up the dilapidated church building that he was in. But he would later come to understand that true reform involves more than having fitting Church buildings: it involves having fitting souls. Francis’ great revolution was one of holiness — and it began with him. The Lord then used him to lead others to that same ideal.

If we become holy — which is our calling! — then the Lord will work through us to build up and reform his Church. It is really all we can do in many cases. I have written and spoken about this before, and Cardinal Sarah’s words serve as a reminder for us all now. Consider reading his book — it will surely be a great encouragement.

THE DAY IS NOW FAR SPENT (click to see on Amazon.com)

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