Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last Sunday’s sermon (https://fathergregerson.com/2018/08/19/a-purified-priesthood/) was unquestionably the most difficult one I have ever given, but unsurprisingly the most rewarding as well. I have been overwhelmed by the messages of thankfulness that I have received – many from people here at St. John’s, but many also from people around the country. As of Tuesday the 21st, the sermon has been viewed over 1,500 times by people in 18 countries. It has received positive attention from non-practicing Catholics and even non-Catholics, both of whom I hope it has encouraged to have a greater trust for the Church. One non-Catholic acquaintance in Goshen even came to Mass here on Sunday in order to hear the message and support us during this time of crisis. I have heard of many other Protestant churches who are also praying for us. Many Catholics have committed to praying the Chaplet of Reparation every Thursday. (I’m grateful, by the way, to Maple Leaf Printing who agreed at 1 p.m. last Friday afternoon to have those ready within three hours so we would have them for Sunday Masses.) It was also discussed this morning on Redeemer Radio. Most of all, I have received the consolation of knowing that I stood up to add my voice to those calling for justice and for renewal in the Church.
I have no pretensions of having said everything necessary or having said everything perfectly. I wish there had been some way that we could have informed parents about the topic that would be addressed so that they could prepare their children. (Many, I’m sure, guessed that it would be addressed and talked to their children before coming to Mass.) I did not address the extensive role of homosexuality in the scandals, which omission I regret in part, but I also know that this would have limited the power of the message for many who dissent from the Church’s teachings. I did not defend those innocent priests who have been held hostage by a guilty until proven innocent system / mentality, because doing so would have greatly impeded the needed message from being heard. Some people have asked why I apologized when I did nothing wrong myself. I thought that it was important for people to hear the words of our Bishop and of the President of the USCCB in their apologies. This crisis has also reminded me of an important reality about the priesthood. There is ultimately one Priest, Jesus Christ. The rest of us are participants in His priesthood. Since we are participants in the one priesthood of Christ, the priesthood we share is the same, a powerful bond of unity amongst us all. Previously, I have experienced the joys of this shared priesthood with my brother priests. This past week, as I never have before, I have felt its trials, with an intense feeling of shame and guilt for what those who exercise the same priesthood I do have done – and have even used the trappings of the priesthood to do so, not just abusing others in spite of their priesthood but doing so precisely in their priesthood. It is sickening beyond belief. The great pain this has caused in my own heart has taught me a powerful lesson about the immense burden carried by the victims of abuse, which must be far heavier than those I have borne this past week.
In my sermon, I intended to express the deep pain and anger that so many of you are experiencing and needed to see being taken up by the Church. We must not forget the passion for renewal in our beloved Church that these days have inspired in our hearts. Continue to fast and pray in reparation for these sins and for a renewal in holiness in our Church. Remember: holiness is not just avoiding sin, though that is certainly part of it. It is about a deep and loving relationship with the Lord. Only when we return to friendship with Christ will the passing things of this world lose their allure. Each one of us has the responsibility to pursue holiness with all our hearts in order to bring about the renewal of the Church.
Mary, mother of the Church and queen of the clergy, pray for us!
Yours in Christ,
Father Royce Gregerson