Friday, December 07, 2007

on bad press for priests and on my hope for Judgment Day

I learned last night that a popular radio host personality here in the Bay Area, Bernie Ward, was indicted on possessing and distributing child pornography. Ward’s defense seems to be that this was all part of the research he did three years ago for a book he is writing.

Quite a number of folks listen to him, known for his progressive views and Catholic commentary. I can number a few folks from this parish who listens to his Sunday morning talk show “Godtalk,” as religiously as they would come to Mass and listen to the priest’s homily.

Many many years ago when I was a more regular radio-talk listener, I’d tune in to KGO Radio and listen to Ward as a guest in Lee Rodgers’ talk show…and the interaction between the two whose political views were opposites was entertaining….and, as a high school student back then, very educational for me. I can say for sure that listening to those two debate on the radio was one of the things that ignited my interest in local and national politics.

Of course, many---if not all---of the news sources here in the Bay Area make mention of the fact that Ward used to be an ordained Catholic priest. The San Jose Mercury News’ banner headline reads: “Ex-Priest faces child-porn charges:”

It’s not “Radio host faces….” or “Radio personality is indicted…”

It’s as if, “Oh, well, he used to be one of those people, so that explains that!”

That irks me.

This news, together with the one about the East Bay priest Greene several weeks ago, and then the one about an HIV-poz Catholic Navy Chaplain the other day have been dismaying. I hope and pray for the day when news associating sexual aberration with the priesthood will cease.

For a novice priest like me these news are discouraging: because I love the priesthood and I love the Church, and when people’s trust in them is hurt by news such as these, I am saddened.

It's Advent, and with last week's Gospel on the Second Coming I sometimes imagine what it would be like on Judgment Day with all of us priests standing and awaiting the verdict. I imagine words from: “Well, you folks have a lot to answer for….” to “many of you did just fine…you all had a lot of unfair bad press for things some of your brothers did, but you as a group did not do too badly at all.”

“You did not do too badly at all.” To hear that on Judgment Day!

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