In praise of the Roman Catholic clergy
I suppose that what I am about to say will be a voice crying in the wilderness -- ignored by everyone. But I feel I should say it -- particularly in the light of all the justified horror over priestly pedophilia. My basic point is that a significant minority is not the whole and I want to talk about those priests who have remained godly men.
I am particularly concerned that the foul deeds of a few may lead to victimization of innocent priests. Like most Australian conservative writers, I suspect that we have already seen a grievous instance of that in the conviction of Cardinal Pell -- who added to his sin of being a priest the even greater sin of being an outspoken conservative. He doesn't even believe in the great Leftist global warming hoax! Unforgiveable! And that he was doing important work in a senior position at the Vatican also put a target on his back
So the Left were out to "get" him for years, with a constant blizzard of unsubstantiated accusations hurled at him so when even a very weakly substantiated accusation of pedophilia against him came before a jury they appear to have decided that there is no smoke without fire. It seems very likely that the court of appeal will exonerate him.
Secondly, I was baptized into the Presbyterian church and I was a strong evangelical Christian throughout my teens.
A Prime Minister of Australia once called the Premier of my home State a "Bible-bashing bastard". I was of that ilk before a study of philosophy re-oriented me. So I have NO Catholic background.
I do however rejoice that I have a religious background. Billy Graham once said that there is a God-shaped hole in everyone. For some people (Muslims?), Satan occupies that hole but the hole is there. Putting it less colorfully, man (including women) is a religious animal and never to have experienced religious commitment is to have missed out on an important part of life. Putting it most prosaically, the old anthropologist's maxim holds true: You have to become part of something to understand it. And because of my religious background I do have an empathy for and an understanding of religious people, Christians in particular
And that is fundamental to the simple thing that I want to say: There are God-filled people in all religions, a small minority from whom the love of Christ and the assurance of eternity shines out almost visibly. They stand out vividly to me when I encounter them. And among the spirit-filled men I have met most have been Catholic priests.
I could name some but to avoid embarrassment I will name just one -- one now deceased. I am thinking of Father Brady, of the Little Kings movement in Brisbane. He was an elderly man when I met him, one of the last Irish priests in Australia, but he wore that unmistakeable smile of serene happiness and assurance which told you of his inner peace and willingness to help. I could see the love of Christ shine out from him. It was unmistakeable to me. I recognized it immediately.
That is all I want to say. Some of the best men I have met have been Catholic priests. The ill deeds of the criminal few should not dim the devoted and lifelong service of the many.