It was the beginning of the AIDS epidemic during the early 1980s. I recently lost my mother to a car accident and my father was recovering from a head injury. I welcomed the chance to go on a retreat. It was organized by a newly arrived priest who taught at our Catholic high school and lived at our parish house.
To save money we shared hotel rooms, and shared beds. The girls were chaperoned by Father's sister, the boys by Father “D”. Three of the older boys shared a room with Father.
One morning a friend told a few of us about a bad experience he had with Father D. The seventeen-year-old was sleeping and something woke him up in the middle of the night. Father was unbuckling his belt; the teen who had to share a bed with Father slept in his jeans and he woke up in confusion to what the priest was doing.
My friend said he didn't know what to do. He ended up hitting the priest in the stomach and then Father D stopped.
My friend said he was wide awake with his eyes on the clock the rest of the night. At six a.m. he got up and ran out of the room. He wondered aloud why Father would do something like that. We were speechless. Somehow he endured the rest of the trip finding an excuse to sleep away from Father D.
The boy didn't tell anyone other than us, and he swore us to secrecy. He was embarrassed. No one thought to tell our parents.
Father D used the AIDS epidemic to explain birth control to my schoolmates and me. After saying we shouldn't have sex outside marriage, he told us if we were going to anyway, we should use birth control. The condoms and pills he passed around had another message attached to them other than abstinence. Father even unrolled a condom and explained how it worked to prevent AIDS.
Later on, I heard rumors about a relationship between Father D and a high school Senior (male) from my old school, but I didn't know for sure if it was true. Abruptly, Father D announced he was being transferred to another state. Eventually, Father D left the priesthood.
Father D's name was on a list of those accused of misconduct released by my old diocese recently.
Despite all this, Father D was the one who gave my mother last rites. He heard my confessions and gave me Holy Communion. He did good for the people of my parish. Do I know the real truth about him? No. I only know that he was flawed like a lot of people.
Back in the 1980s most of us didn't understand some people were attracted to others of the same sex. We know what is happening today.
When I read about our Church in the past allowing religious who are not practicing celibacy to remain in their jobs—some were bishops and cardinals-- I feel betrayed. It seems during the Sexual Revolution we lost sight of our calling to purity. We have been given forgiveness from the cross of Jesus, and all sin is wiped clean in Him. But, what if no one teaches there is sin?
I have often wondered if by not addressing our call to holiness in sexual matters, the Church was allowing sin to get the upper hand.
The concept of the self-fulfilling prophesy allows us to be as good or bad as we imagine we will be. Sexual purity is a calling, one we have abandoned as a Church. We have lost our moral gravitas. When we gave moral license by our silence to acts that once were considered bad, sexual restraint became a lot more difficult.
Million dollar payouts may ease the pain of the victims and enrich their lawyers, but the people in the pews will probably close their wallets sooner or later. It's difficult to pay for something someone else did.
What will our society look like with a bankrupt Church, I don't know. Bankrupt not just monetarily, but also spiritually.
We have to find our moral compass again because the souls we serve live forever. We must close the floodgates and go back to a sexual holiness for priests, bishops, married couples, and single people. We cannot accept that priests, bishops or the laity can be good Catholics and embrace the sins of this world. That is a sin against the Holy Spirit.
God calls on us to be good stewards. When the Master returns, He will deal with any worthless servants. We can't say we weren't warned.