Wednesday, 7 March 2012

By The Holy Innocents we Shall be Brought Low

It seems that the only time that you hear about priests in the press these days, they have been arrested for something or have outraged someone. Sadly, it seems to be the case that when priests are in the news following their arrest, that it is for alleged offences against children. 

Sadly, two priests known to me personally were in the news yesterday. They were two priests who ministered in the town where I grew up, and whose ministries had some contact with my own growth and development as a Christian. I cannot say whether or not they are guilty of the allegations made against them, but I pray for all concerned. Neither is this the first time. I have known several priests who have been subject to similar allegation and investigation, and to date the ones that I know have all been cleared of any wrong-doing. The fact is, that if a priest is hauled public, it seems to be for transgressions (alleged or actual) against children. 

I don't believe that the priesthood is the preferred life for those who would act wrongly against children. I accept too that a priest abusing that trust is a very exciting headline for the world who would seek to see us as other-world oddities. I do wonder, though, if there is any such thing as spiritual warfare (and I can offer no real view either way), that the powers of darkness seem to do most of their damage to Christian priests and their ministry through children and young people - by temptation and transgression, or by false allegation many years later. 

The first thing I would say is that if you are reading this and engaged in anything that could haunt you in several decades time, to stop and put matters right now by whatever appropriate means. The second thing is to say that it is becoming harder and harder to work with children because there is an increasing fear of what will be claimed when we are old men and women. Needless to say, those who were cleared of allegations were still left with their ministries (very publicly)  in tatters and their life much the same. I sometime genuinely fear that being a caring human being (priest or not), and one who will offer comfort at a range closer than ten feet, will leave me open to allegation later. 

My last word, though, should be to remember those children who have faced abuse in their lives - be that from priests or anyone else. Whatever happens to priests who are in fact guilty is nothing when compared to the damage, hurt and betrayal experienced and felt by the children. Prayers for them should be our loudest in all of this. 

The fact is, I would prefer it that the Devil used something else (you know, embezzlement or something like that) to knacker priests - not little children. 

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