How to Keep Disputes With a Pastor Fraternal – Not Fratricidal

St. Padre Pio

St. Padre Pio

Today is the Feast Day of St. Padre Pio. One of the things I most cherish of his memory is that, from 1924 to 1933, he was stripped of his priestly faculties. This was because he was growing wildly popular and the Vatican feared a growth of a cult of personality. Many would say the Vatican was wrong. I think both the Vatican and St. Padre Pio lived their duty admirably to glorify the living God. For see, Padre Pio’s charisms were entirely authentic. But one of the main jobs of the hierarchy is to test all things – to keep the flock safe from deceptions that would lead them away from Christ.

Satan and his minions can do a form of magic – and deceive many by it. But what neither satan nor any of his demons can ever do is live humble obedience to the authority God set over man – particularly the earthly institution of the hierarchy. Both St. Padre Pio’s obedience and the Church’s diligence became the setting for the brilliant lustre with which this great saint shines. May we all live his obedience with as much enthusiasm as we cherish his charisms.


(Update – my priest who monitors this site has made two suggestions for this article: First, he recommends bringing or citing an appropriate section of the Catechism or Magisterium when confronting a pastor. Second, while applauding my resolve to always go to confession with the priest in such a situation, he notes that it violates peoples freedom to require. He cited Pope St. John Paul’s decision to go to confession to a priest he rebuked as an example of the refinement of this approach – but notes the Church does not insist on it.)

Many people have asked me how we can enter into serious disagreement with a priest or pastor and still live our duty of obedience on matters of faith and morals. A few times I have said that they should follow the priest’s lead: that if he is disobedient to his Bishop and the Magisterium, they should treat him with the same obedience he gives to his superiors. While that is not without merit, it is more than a bit too glib. There are several issues at stake here. First, a priest’s legitimate authority over you – and duty to you – consists in distributing the sacraments to you and guiding you on matters of faith and morals. The Church recognizes that some things are the primary prudential responsibility of laymen (for which laymen bear decisive authority) and others are the primary prudential responsibility of the Shepherds (for which Bishops and their assistants – priests – bear decisive authority). For example, you might value a priest’s advice and solicit it on what type of car you should get or where you should live or whether you should take a particular job offer. However insightful the priest’s advice may be, he holds no authority over you whatsoever in these matters (unless you were considering a job offer that was illicit in itself, such as running a brothel).

Often a problem is simply a matter of interpretation – a misreading of Scripture or deforming of history or culture to make a point – usually in a homily or address. On these things, usually a brief private meeting with the priest resolves the matter – or reveals a more deep-seated problem. I have had those many times. Occasionally I have been surprised at the response. Once I was furiously angry over a misguided homily from a priest I knew. It was a theme commonly repeated, but completely muddled and wrong – and I really thought this priest should have known better. I caught him after Mass and said we needed to talk. So we retired to a private spot. I vented a little frustration and then went through seven clear Scriptural admonitions on the matter that demonstrated that, as common as the theme was, it was utter poppycock and completely wrong. To my surprise, he looked at me with beatific joy and said, “Oh, thank goodness. I don’t have to preach that nonsense any more.” Even our priests are sometimes caught up in the spirit of the times and just say something because that’s what everyone thinks they are supposed to say.

The weightier matters come when a priest allows himself to be consumed with matters of mere politics – matters that are not his bailiwick to begin with or either subtly or overtly tries to undermine the fundamentals of the faith. Even on these matters I assume poor formation to begin with and will have a quick and quiet word when first they rise. In a few cases, that is enough. In others, it only makes one a target. But it does tell me whether their intent is innocent or malicious.

If the intent is malicious, my first response is to spend a few weeks praying quietly on the priest’s behalf whenever I hear him give a homily – that Our Lord will enlighten him and Our Lady protect him and take him under her maternal mantle. You would be astonished at the occasional results this brings. The most dramatic came with a priest at a church I went to for Daily Mass only because it was close to work. This is a priest who actively persecuted Marian devotees right from his pulpit – the priest I mentioned who overtly explained that there was no literal resurrection and that Jesus’ body was likely eaten by wild dogs. He had a ready sneer for anyone who expressed their faith in traditional terms. It was so bad that I was going to find another church nearby so as not to participate in these homilies that felt like desecrations. I decided instead I would spend a full week of Daily Masses praying for him, invoking Our Lord and Our lady for him whenever he spoke. I really did not hear him that week, I was praying so intently every time he opened his mouth. But the next week I did listen – and it felt like I had gone to a different church. He had suddenly developed a real tenderness for the group of Marian devotees who attended each day – not a grudging tolerance, but a real tender affection. I kept waiting for him to say something outrageous in his homilies. But they had suddenly become deeply insightful and profound and….downright orthodox. Everyone was talking about the change that had come over Fr. Mc____. But no one knew what had caused it. To my surprise, we became rather good friends and I knew him for several years more before events moved me away. Not once did he ever utter a discouraging word after that…and his parishioners held him in as remarkable an esteem as he held them. I never asked him what happened, but I have never seen as dramatic and quick a turnaround, so I just give thanks to God. AND I remember that before doing anything else or getting mad, first lay down a solid bed of prayer before Our Lord and Our Lady in such a case.

There have been several other cases where I have had to contend more directly. My practice is simple. First, as I said, I pray for a week or two. Then, I write a letter to the priest outlining my problem. I take care to make sure it is both charitable and clear, but firm without mincing words. After that, I wait a week and make sure to go to confession with the priest I have so disputed with. I do not mention my letter; just make my confession and accept my penance.

In almost all cases, that has resolved the matter – and occasionally opened up a rich vein of discussion between a borderline priest and me. Now, there are three notable cases of different results I will tell you about.

First, a young eager priest, “Father X,” came as assistant pastor at a parish I was at. He wanted to “fix” the Church. If you have ever attended a large parish, you will be familiar with the dear things who make up the contingent of what I call Church Ladies. These are the women who hang breathlessly and adoringly on every word of every priest who comes through. (I do not say this disparagingly: I love the purity and innocence of Church Ladies and have been very close with several groups of them – one group of which treated me almost as sweetly as they treated the priests). Well, Fr. X was so bad, even the Church Ladies could not help turning their noses up in distaste when he spoke. It was the only time I have ever seen that.

It was a relief when Father X talked only about his dull-witted political ideas in his homily: that meant he had less time to preach actual heresy. Once, I had to fight from laughing when my son, just as Mass began, started whispering commentary to me as if this were a football game of Father X versus Jesus. My son was hilarious. When the final dismissal was given, he whispered “…and Jesus wins again. The crowd goes wild,” just as the organ burst forth in a particularly triumphal recessional. I could not contain my laughter.

So, I wrote the letter. It was blunt, and perhaps not as charitable as I would normally write, but his offenses were legion. A few days later I was at Daily Mass, which he was celebrating. I was leaving on vacation that day and realized I had not gone to confession with him. So I asked him to hear my confession. The results showed me God’s sense of humor. When I was finished, this priest rather gleefully socked me with the heaviest penance I had ever gotten. It would take a good five hours of prayer. But it was simultaneously the heaviest and the lightest penance I ever got. See, when I go on a road trip, I usually plan an extensive plan of prayer, geared to particular intentions. For my penance, he gave me EXACTLY the prayers I had already planned to do and for EXACTLY – the intentions I had planned – in EXACTLY the words I had planned them in my mind that morning. He did not give me so much as a Hail Mary beyond what I already intended.

A few months later, that particular priest was defrocked, laicized. I will not say what he was defrocked for, as it was bizarre and made the news – but will only say it did not involve any sort of physical abuse of anyone.

I once skipped over my normal steps when a priest assigned a woman to wear the vestments and act as a priest at a Daily Mass. I was stunned – and took that directly to my spiritual director and the Archdiocese – and the priest was removed from the parish within a month.

Once a woman was sent to speak to me because I had a reputation for giving good counsel in such matters. Her priest was a left-wing activist who openly defied his Bishop – and the dispute there had been much in the news. We talked about these things…but when I told her she must go to confession with him, she had a fit. She absolutely refused to do it. I told her that she could not credibly demand that he submit to the lawful authority over him if she would not submit to that authority he lawfully could exercise over her – and that if she received the sacrament of reconciliation from him, it also forced him to administer that sacrament – and helped assure him of her good will while perhaps recollecting to him his obligation to Christ. She would not hear of it. So I sent her away without any further discussion. She was a bit shocked, but I was not about to argue over it. If we allow the disobedience of a superior to incite us to wrath and disobedience in even what is lawful, satan has scored a rout, mutilating two souls instead of one.

This is how I deal with such things. I hope it may be helpful in giving you a means to go forward. But one more thing – once I take such measures, I do not speak of them with anyone except the priest. (Obviously, I have spoken of them here, but without the use of names and only old incidents in order to give you some counsel on what has worked fruitfully for me in the past). If you have a good effect or not, if you go boasting of how you “told him,” you utterly squander any grace that might have come from the encounter and are infected with the same vanity you sought to correct. Leave such things to Christ and do not boast of them – and you may find He will send much fruit. And if it just cannot be settled, shake the dust off your feet and go to a different Mass or parish – still without telling anyone outside Christ and the priest of your actions. What you do in secret in such matters the Master will reward openly.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
This entry was posted in Church Governance, Conversion, Discernment, Obedience, Spiritual Preparation and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to How to Keep Disputes With a Pastor Fraternal – Not Fratricidal

  1. Mary says:

    Lovely post. Two things to add, one a fact and the other a quibble. Don’t forget that Padre Pio’s “test” was instigated by a jealous and scandalous bishop who lied. So God tested him, not the Church, though both the bishop and Church were used by God. And the quibble is about the question of not talking about bad priests. They must be talked about in two situations: when someone’s faith is endangered by false teaching, and when children are endangered and parents need (and have a right) to be informed. If I know for a fact that someone is dangerous to children, I will warn anyone with children to keep their children away.

    A related point: The injury to a child is an injury to a family. The family can’t help the child or repair injury unless it knows. Penance to an abusive priest should involve reparation to the family….and since the family can’t repair unless it knows, the priest should be required to restore what he has taken from the family by confessing to them and making reparation, no matter the consequences, just as he would be required to repay stolen money to obtain absolution. The abuse of the seal of Confession in the cases of abusive priests is truly scandalous.

    One more thing: since a pederast or pedophile has many many victims, propagation of his sin is the only way to ensure that the other victims are released from the prison of secrecy, shame and denial, and allowed to seek justice and healing. And when there has been notoriety and multiplicity of cases, public sin requires a public reparation. All of this is firmly rooted in traditional Catholic moral teaching.


    • charliej373 says:

      Oh, Mary, I was talking about content of homilies and teaching. I kind of assumed that if a priest is acting in a flagrantly morally criminal way, they must be treated as such. I would never keep quiet about someone who was abusing another in a serious way (though some of the “zero-tolerance” policies invite fraudulent accusations for monetary settlements).

      What I was talking about is the boasting that you have bested someone in argument or put them in their place. Society is hugely infected with such boasting and it corrodes the soul even when the faith is not involved.


      • Mary says:

        I agree, and I knew that is what you meant. Only the first half of the quibble was relevant to your post!:) When it comes to content of teaching, I do think we ought to make the errors known to people we are responsible for or to others who are weak in faith. Yes, it should be done in service to faith, not as malicious bashing or “heresy collecting” or even as personal judgment. The idea of confessing to them is powerful, but it has risks – I guess you may never have confessed to a “heretical” priest who refuses to use the words of absolution and just says “God forgives you”….


  2. Joe D's Cousin Ralph says:

    Well Charlie, I would say this post is timely.


    • charliej373 says:

      Hilarious! “Joe D” is a pseudonym I used to use to comment with in a popular political journal. Folks figured out pretty quickly that I was an active operative – and for a few months a wild round of speculation went on as to who “Joe D” really was. Now one of my best friends, who is a public official – started amusing himself by commenting on some sites as “Joe D’s Cousin Ralph.” Glad to have you here, “Ralph.”


  3. ARBY says:

    Letters directly to the priest? or letters to his Pastor?
    Do you sign these letters or do you remain anonymous.
    If you sign the letter, do these priest automatically know who you are or are you still somewhat anonymous?

    When going to the priest for confession are you recognized or anonymous?

    I like your way of praying, letters and confession, but I myself am not known by name in my parish, so I am anonymous and would like to stay that way.


    • charliej373 says:

      I always sign my name. I never hide in the shadows on a matter of import. When I went to confession, yes they knew who I was…but had there been any doubt. I would have found an unobtrusive way to make sure they did. To do things quietly is good…to do kind or gentle things anonymously is better. But on a matter of import, I strongly believe it is best to make sure that whoever you are going to knows who you are. It takes a certain fortitude, but even if you are blasted as I was by the one priest, you try to walk with God.

      It is why, as much as I wanted to keep the things I write today to myself…and as I played with hopes for anonymity for a while…if you are going to accept responsibility, you need to reveal yourself. My letters are always directly to the priest. If abuses continue, I may go to is pastor or bishop – as I did in the case of the priest who had a woman “celebrate” Mass. If you can’t bring yourself to stand and accept full responsibility before him whom you rebuke, I think it best to keep your peace.


  4. johnmcfarm says:

    Great post Charlie! Personally though, I would question any priest, pastor, etc, having authority OVER another…they do not get that authority from God…at least to my knowledge. They do have responsibility and moral standards by which they must act to be considered pastors in God’s eyes. I remember being asked to consider becoming a minister a few years ago. I prayed, researched the bible and contemplated. I determined, rightfully so that I am a weak man subject to temptations with God by a man (a preist).nd as such could not meet the standards God expects. I serve God in ways that He has led me to…more humble, stumbling efforts to bring people to Him.

    Simply wearing the ornaments, or framing the certification does not make one truly a minister or priest, etc. It is our moral foundation that comes from a personal relationship with our Lord and overflows our hearts with love that truly qualify us. As I said in another post all the actual doctrine ee need know is in John 3:16. The rest of the Gospels are just elaborations from that…in my opinion.

    The last thing I will quibble about, humbly and with respect, is my certainty the God is availablle and truly desires a personal relationship with each of us. There is no greater man in God’s eyes…we are truly equal. His love is eternal and infinite for each person. Consequently, I struggle with the Baptist church policy of only giving communion to those who have been baptised, Catholics require Catholic baptisms I was surprised to learn a few years ago when I was denied communion with God by a man…who happened to be a priest. I don’t know about the other Christian denominations other than Baptists and Catholics on this issue but presume it is a common man made dogma that is actually counter to God’s desire to embrace each of us.

    Consequently, I have little faith in the position or title of pastor or priest and take each I come across on an individual assessment. They are just men and women like us…some better suited for their position…some, not so well. One of my favorites was Father Shoebigger, who married my wife and I. Great man of God. I have known and know many great men and women of God of other Christian and Jewish faith. Charlie, God wants you to tell others that all Christians and Jews will now be considered equal, because we always were…there is no special place by one faith “above” other Christian faiths. However, we must never forget that God’s chosen people…those who are held the highest are the Jews…Jesus will not be coming to Rome or Salt Lake City…he will be coming to Israel when he returns. He has told us that in the Bible…His letter to each of us.


    • charliej373 says:

      I understand your position John – and for those who don’t know, my friend John, who is a Missionary Baptist, is one of the most steadfast servants of God I know.

      There is a different theological basis for the Catholic (and Orthodox – and to a certain extent some Anglican and Anglican shoot-offs) approach to orders…what accepting consecration into the ministry.

      I know the Catholic position on receiving the Eucharist is that, apart from the Sacrament, it symbolizes a full union with the Catholic faith. So it is not so much to deprive anyone – but to keep them from confessing to a false fullness of union they don’t accept. Even so, as I waited for my Baptism, I hungered for it and sometimes felt a bit left out.


    • charliej373 says:

      Hey John,
      Catholic theologians do not suggest that a priest or a Bishop is a better person than another, but rather that once they are vested with orders, they exercise a particular authority in the name of Christ by the power of Christ. We take the words of Christ to His apostles, “He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” – Luke 10:16, very seriously as setting up a hierarchy. It is like appointing judges – a judge who hears my case may not be any better – may in fact be a worse – man than me. But he does exercise a legitimate authority that has been vested in him.

      Then we get to the point of the Bible being our only authority. We Catholics hold the Bible to be fully authoritative…but for the first few centuries, Christians did not have a New Testament. Jesus did not hand His apostles a Bible and tell them to go found a church: He founded a Church – and gave His apostles authority – including the authority to decide which books would form an authentic canon of New Testament Scripture and which would be rejected. More candidates for inclusion were rejected than included.

      Most importantly, though, I do not want this to become a site for debate over whose systems are best and truest to Christ’s Word. Let us tolerate each other’s systems while going forward on what Christ calls us specifically to do. As I have written, God will see to the unity…but in the meantime, I think that calls for a toleration of the systems. Catholic and Orthodox – and some Anglican off-shoots are hierarchical and sacramental – and most Protestants are not. Let us accept that as a given and nonetheless go forward in faith.


  5. johnmcfarm says:

    Oh! I love St Padre Pio! I just saw a documentary on him on EWTN (Catholic tv station)…


  6. johnmcfarm says:

    Horrors! In the first paragraph is an error in my post. I had cut and pasted part of a sentence and it went where I did not mean for it to go…the gist that I was making is that by Biblical standards I was not well suited for the ministry. My spologies for how that came out above… sometimes I swear satan plays tricks with us!


  7. Nancy says:

    Wish I had the benefit of your wisdom about 15 years ago. A misunderstanding happened and the priest accused me of something that had nothing to do with my communication to him. He then quoted Mt. 15:19 to me I was so shocked at what he was saying that I don’t even remember how it ended. I think I hung up on him. I mentioned the incident to another person without giving them many details and he told me I had to go to confession. I never went because I didn’t know what to confess. Yes, I will pray for the priest because he needs it desperately and I do forgive him, but I am now wondering what to do about confession. I also wish I hadn’t read your post because I thought I had put all that behind me. Why does God allow these things?


    • charliej373 says:

      Nancy, if we were going to be held to account for mistakes we made 15 years ago and tried to set right, however clumsily, we would all be drawn and quartered. If there is something you need to get off your conscience, go to confession, speak it and let it go. Completely. The past really is a bucket of ashes – and we all have enough work ahead of us that the Lord certainly does not want us worrying about the ashes of our past.

      If it makes you feel any better, some years back I was peripherally involved in a public controversy that was NOT of my making, but did happen on my watch. A Bishop who had become a friend and confidant called me as I was driving one day and asked me had I known a certain fact about the squabble before it became public. I confessed I did – and before I could say anything else, he called me a dumbdonkey (a bit of a translation here). I started to explain and he repeated himself. So I just said I was sorry and he told me to intervene if anything like that came up again. Then we talked for a few minutes of more pleasant things of mutual interest. I feel pretty safe in thinking, though, that not too many here have had the experience of a Bishop they admire calling them to explain that they are a dumbass. Trust me, it is a bracing experience.


      • Nancy says:

        Thank you. You made me feel better.🙂 I don’t think I need to go to confession since my conscience isn’t bothering me–just questioning the past. Need to stop that.


        • Nancy says:

          After I finished posting the response above, my “little voice” (the one I almost always listen to because it is usually opposite to what I am thinking) reminded me that that priest is in my territory of souls and I must be called to pray and fast for him much more than I usually would. So that is why God allows these things…..🙂


      • Andy H says:

        Funny you mention this about the past. I try to attend confession at least once a month but normally it is every two weeks. I try to go to the same priest because I feel this makes confession shorter in a way (not for me because lord knows I could stay in there all day but that is not fair to the priests time or others in line🙂 ) since he knows my on going struggles. Lately I have been praying before confession to help God bring to mind not only my current sons but the long ago hidden sins I have forgotten that should be confessed. It is quite amazing what The Lord reveals to me in an instance and it truly is something long forgotten but not by God. I must share an example of one that came up just last week. I was in church after mass waiting for confession and upon asking I was instantly reminded of a time when I was probably 10 years old and stole baseball cards from the local Walgreens. I confessed and couldn’t help but chuckle a bit at the image and did in the confessional. Thankfully the priest laughed a bit too.


  8. Stephen says:

    Hi Charlie, my children are relatively young 17-16-14-12-10-8-6-4-and 2. There have been times I have had to charitably correct untruth in a homily. These teachable moments are parental duties as I see it. To not make it a session of bashing anyone but a time to pull out the catechism , bible ,or lives of the saints and discuss what our rich faith in fact teaches. To have family discussion and prayer. Find a suitable excuse to keep the authority of priests in tact for their young minds. Pray for the priest to champion our faith and remain strong.

    Our neighborhood has a sexual predator (not a preist but the adult son of a Catholic family). My children know him by a photo on the sexual predator website, they know his name and what kind of car he drives. It’s heavy information for them but necessary. They all don’t know the details. For six years now every time we drive by his house we say a prayer for him and his family ,which is sometimes multiple times a day. It’s our family secret. Recently a member of our parish found out where we live and asked” if we were near X family and that God has been working mightily in that home. The father/husband who could not take the pressure of a certain situation and had abandoned them is now back in the home and things are healing for all of them.” We thank God for any little bit we may have contributed but continue our daily prayers and often times it’s a simple sign of the cross with silent intentions.

    It’s important for your children to be part of a learning process . be careful not to teach them to be judgemental and cynical but how to love with charity and compassion. To remember not to cast stones but be on the side of truth even if you’re alone.


    • charliej373 says:

      I appreciate that drill, Stephen. I only have two children. Well, maybe I don’t. In all candor, I had a lot of priest friends…and usually we would talk at length about things. I think my kids saw me so often talking casually with priests and, often, responding to their questions about certain religious things, that they just assumed I knew best. We did always talk about evidence…what the Catechism says, what Doctors of the Church say…but we largely approached it from the idea that there was so much to learn that we grow by examining different issues from different perspectives. There were just a few fundamentals that always applied – mainly to always treat people with kindness until they demonstrated they were determined to offend. I encourage investigation – but ever based on evidence and reason, as I am convinced that truth will always stand the test of examination. I was always rather pleased that my daughter, who had a wildly troubled adolescence, always defended the underdog and was relentlessly pro-life, even when she hung with and was part of the worst crowds.


  9. aj says:

    John, like most of us you have a somewhat western and personal interpretation of the gospels. I’m suggesting that in the Kingdom of GOD there has always been hierarchy, structure, priesthood and GOD’S authority given to specific “office holders”, like Moses. A more Jewish interpretation of the gospels may shed some light and so I’m linking a very short, Jewish explanation of how one can have the authority to teach and interpret scripture by simply holding the “office” without being holy. In fact one can be a hypocrite living contrary to what one teaches and still be authorised by GOD to teach and interpret the scriptures…see link below.

    GOD bless you my brother as we walk this journey together.

    YESHUA we Trust in You!


    • joanp62 says:

      Well said, aj. I wanted to reply to John, but you put it well and simply. God Bless.


    • johnmcfarm says:

      Thank you aj, very thoughtful comment. However, it does not shake my understanding that the ONLY way to the Father is through Jesus Christ. Just as we are taught in the Bible.
      The problem with man’s reasoning is that we tend to intellectualize our way to a partnership with God that does not exist. We create from a grain of truth a tower of self deception. Can anyone really imagine Jesus saying…you can only come to the Father from the ministrations of men? Pastors, priests, etc. serve as teachers…counselors, if you will to aid us in attaining a close relationship with God. That is their responsibility, not to be an authority over us. God does not intend for there being any obstacles, mediators, etc. between each of us and Him. What constraints did John the Baptist place upon those who he baptized? The Bible is God’s full message and teaching for us…it is the duty…the resposibility to teach us God’s will and message from the Bible. Only Jesus has authority…He was without sin, perfect. No man has those qualities.
      I have read Charlie write exhaustively that while he has very close active relations with God whom appears to be using Charlie to communicate His words, Charlie is emphatic that he does not have any authority over anyone. He would probably be excommunicated if he asserted so.
      God is there for each of us…equally.


      • aj says:

        John my brother, all I wish for you is to grow in deep, abiding Love for GOD and for neighbour. And for all of us this is a process…a lifelong one at that. But I will also ask you to continually pray to The HOLY SPIRIT that He continues to enlighten your mind and heart with His Truth. This is not the forum for my putting forward arguments to show you that from Genesis to Revelations GOD has placed “His” authority in the hands of men. More and more I’m realising that arguments and evidence do not cause a change of heart…only GOD can do that. And I’m not speaking specifically about our difference of belief.

        So let us agree on the fundamental truth that we have a new commandment which is to Love one another as JESUS Loves us. If we get that right my friend…everything else will work itself out.

        So let’s continue holding each other’s hands as we take the next right and bold step towards our LORD.

        JESUS I Trust in You.


      • Chris Young says:

        This link i think may clarify the whole point, John. Mark Mallett is amazing. Please read.


  10. Stephen says:

    Charlie, I didn’t intend to direct my last paragraph to your children. I have been reading your blog long enough to know your son and daughter are adults. I ment it as our children, mine and others who read your blog. That discussion is sometimes warranted. Mostly in times of blatant untruth when our children could be misguided and always with good Catholic doctrine or resources. Thank you


  11. MM Bev says:

    I very much appreciate your extremely sound advice. And confession is not something that I had thought of, but it makes perfect sense. Should I encounter a difficulty with regard to a pastor or assistant, I will follow your steps exactly to the letter.
    I would add one more comment. If a priest is accused of abuse, as was a pastor of mine years and years ago, it is wise to wait, observe, and allow the Church authorities involved to pursue a proper course of action. The reason I say this, is because my former parish priest was falsely accused of touching a child. She also accused her grandfather, enlarging his part into sexual abuse. I never ever discussed it. I knew this man, and I personally did not believe it. Since it was years later that this accusation happened, long after he had left our parish, it didn’t seem applicable to gossip about it.
    He did leave the priesthood, and I assume did it formally by laicization, although I never inquired even though there were at least two people I knew who could have told me.
    Eight years later, I read in a magazine publication, on about the ninth page, that the girl in question, had retracted her statement, saying it was false. Upon being asked why she accused these two people, she said she wanted out of her family because the rules wouldn’t let her do what she wanted, and knew that accusing her grandfather would put her into child services custody. When asked why she chose to accuse the priest (and the touching was not necessarily sexual, only that it frightened her), she said that he was the only priest she knew.
    What most bothered me, was that all of this occurred in our diocese, and nothing about the retraction was ever made public to the Catholic people. It may be that he, or his family made that decision and I know nothing about that. I thought he was a good man, and he was a good priest – and he may have made the decision to leave the active priesthood regardless. But I felt very badly that the accusation was never exposed for a lie. I have on occasion, told a parishioner that I knew, what I read in that publication, although only someone I knew well. but have not mentioned it for at least 15 or more years now. I just felt sick when the accusation was first made and the talking began. I wanted no part of it. Unless directly involved our part is to pray for all involved.


  12. Matthew says:

    You don’t mention the fact that any penitent is free to refuse any penance he is given and to ask for another. Whether one is unwilling or unable it is not a sin/failing to ask for a different penance. I think some of your suggestions (going to confession to the particular priest or accepting a burdensome penance) are admirable but, like some of the things certain saints felt called to, they are for them and not for all.


  13. Mack says:

    That’s a great story about the penance the priest gave you, Charlie. He actually did you a favor since prayers that are said as a penance from confession have a special reparative value to atone for our sins, more than just prayers we say on our own.


  14. Barbara Dore says:

    pray, pray, pray for all priests. God will let them know the numbers of lost souls due to their words, attitudes and behaviours at the Judgement. We must support them by praying….it is not our place to judge them. Say a rosary daily for all priests. Our Lady promises that she will repay you….


    • Andy H says:

      Yes we need to constantly pray for priests and also for vocations. Whenever I get the time in my life to attend weekday mass, I always make it a point to join the faithful daily rosary attendants a half hour before and join in. I am always the only person under the age of 60 but thankfully they love having me! They always end the rosary with this wonderful prayer and I urge you all to adopt it in some form in your own prayer life.

      Prayer for Vocations
      Almighty Father,
      You have created us for some definite purpose.
      Grant us the grace to know the path
      You have planned for us in this life
      and to respond with a generous “Yes.”
      Make our archdiocese, parishes, homes and hearts
      fruitful ground for Your gift of vocations.
      May our young people respond to Your call
      with courage and zeal.
      Stir among our men a desire and the strength
      to be good and holy priests.
      Bless us with consecrated religious and those called to a
      chaste single life, permanent deacons,
      and faithful husbands and wives,
      who are a sign of Christ’s love for His Church.
      We commend our prayer for vocations to You, Father,
      through the intercession of Mary our Mother,
      in the Holy Spirit,
      through Christ our Lord. Amen.
      – Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr


  15. specklebean9 says:

    I loved this. It is so respectful and offers real help for those who are compelled to go their priest or pastor with charity being its greatest virtue.


  16. I loved the story of Fr. Mc____. This is one of the main reasons why I pray for unorthodox or liberal clergy (both Protestant and Catholic). I pray that they truly find Christ and really preach the Word of God. Your story reminds me of an incident while I was a seminarian back in the early 1990’s.

    When I was seminary student at Harvard Divinity School, I was surrounded by so much liberalism, unbelief, and heresy. Seminarians who cared more about politics and social justice while rejecting the basic tenets of our Christian faith. My refuge during those 3 years was Weston Jesuit School of Theology. I loved taking classes there because I felt at home and surrendered by believers. A good priest and Augustinian theologian was my favorite professor. I took nearly every course he offered at Weston.

    In either case, one day while I was still at HDS, I had a vivid dream. In the dream, I saw one of the lectures halls completely filled to capacity. The students were all praising God and giving great glory to Jesus. It was astonishing and I was moved by it. Even the professors were joining the students in giving great glory to God. It even felt like a revival. When I woke up from my dream, I said to myself, “That will never happen!” However, an inner voice spoke to me and said, “With God, never say never!” I immediately repented and asked God to forgive me.

    I have often wondered about that dream throughout the years. Now I realize that it might indeed be fulfilled after the Storm when orthodoxy and unity will reign in all seminaries across the globe. While the Storm may seem scary at times, I keep thinking and focusing on what follows the Storm. It’s going to be so awesome! I long to live in that world. In addition, while I’m currently serving as a Methodist pastor, I’m looking so forward towards our unity to Mother Rome. 2018 can’t get here fast enough!

    Anyway, how I wish that you had asked Fr. Mc, “What happened?” I would have! Praise be to God that whatever it was (along with your prayers), it did change the priest.


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