The presumption of doing good and the harm it can cause
I was encouraged away from home at the tender age of 11 into a junior seminary. I went on to religious novitiate and was encouraged to take vows at the age of 18: Vows for life. I then went through senior seminary and was ordained at 23, and unleashed onto an unsuspecting world as a catholic priest.
I was a child through all that time. How could I be anything else? The church ordained a child into the role of a mature person. I lived in priesthood for almost 30 years, trying to do my best, to be kind and understanding. But human maturity in human and sexual relationships had been denied to me by the system. Finally at the age of 44 I met a lovely girl, and eventually after counselling and great struggle, found the freedom of mind and heart to leave the catholic priesthood and to make my life in the world.
The institution of the church greatly damaged me. But I am in the habit of saying, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’ It is this ignorance, not knowing what they do, that I wish to highlight in this piece.
People in the church presume that what they do is always good since they are working for God. They do not think to question many of the practices they perform precisely for this reason. They do not ever think that they might be mistaken. Anyone who questions the way things are is considered automatically to be rebellious by nature.
My sister, Tricia, is an independent spirit, in contrast to my obedient nature, and she resisted my journey to priesthood to the very end. She regards the church as snobbish, thinking itself superior to the rest of humankind, and today I am inclined to agree with her feelings.
Any institution or person who thinks that are working for God runs the risk of being blind to the realities of life. Blind and deaf and stubborn to what the world really needs.
The Pharisees are not the baddies of the Gospel. They are our selves. They try so hard to be good and religious. Jesus really had to say some strong words to them to try and shake them up. Pope Francis has the spirit of Jesus in him. We need a good shake.