I just had a long conversation with a good friend about the new revelations coming out of Rome. Apparently, Pope Benedict XVI received a fully documented report on one or more homosexual rings of bishops and/or cardinals operating within the Vatican. These homosexual rings were affecting Vatican policy and praxis. According to the reports, Benedict resigned, in part, because he was overwhelmed by the extraordinary evil these homosexual rings represented.
My friend was concerned.
"Which priest," asked my friend, "can we trust anymore? How can a sodomite priest in a state of mortal sin actually pretend to give me a sacrament? How can I take the Body and Blood of Christ from a pervert?"
There are many aspects to the answer.
To the first question, the answer is "None of them. You can't trust any priest not to be a pervert, you can't trust any man to be as holy as he is held out to be. Ordination does NOT guarantee holiness, it does not protect a man against sinning. In fact, it makes him open to MORE temptations, more opportunity for sin, precisely because he becomes satan's special target by the fact of his ordination."
"But, to answer the second question, we have to realize that our trust is in the sacrament, not in the priest. I am saved by the sacraments, not by the priest. The sins of the priest are not communicated to the Body of Christ nor to me. He cannot sin for me, he cannot give me his sin or take away my grace, and he certainly can do nothing to God, present in every one of the sacraments. His sin is his own, to clutch to his breast as he descends into the horrors of hell. An active sodomite commits the most grievous sin of sacrilege when he consecrates the Eucharist or gives absolution. But his sin of sacrilege does not change the holiness of my encounter with Christ."
And as I spoke with my friend, it occured to me that we are all the Apostle Thomas now.
He had lived for years with his friends, the apostles, all following Christ around Galilee, listening to Him, watching Him. He knew the kind of men his friends were. Jesus called His apostles many things, and almost never did He call them nice things.
When these men told Thomas, "We have seen the risen Christ!", Thomas recalled all of this.
He knew these men.
He had lived with them.
He knew the kind of men they were.
So when they told him this, Thomas responded in a reasonable way.
"Yeah, I don't believe you festering idiots, you cowards."
And how did Christ respond?
"Thomas, come and put your fingers in my side. See? It really is me.
Yes, I know the people who told you I was risen are cowards and idiots. I don't disagree with you. You should have believed them anyway. Not because THEY are trustworthy. They aren't. But because you knew ME."
"Thomas, you walked with Me.
You knew I could do it.
You knew I had the power to do it.
Yeah, they are idiots, but you should have trusted them because you trusted ME."
I don't trust that the priest is holy.
In fact, there have been occasions when, given a choice of priests, I have deliberately chosen to go to confession to the priest who had been unjust to me, because I knew I had to trust Christ, not the priest.
We encounter Christ in the sacraments, not the priest.
And insofar as we encounter the priest in the sacrament, the priest has injected himself into a relationship he has no business in. The priest is superfluous, unimportant, essential only in the sense that God chooses to deliver Himself to me through the priest.
The sacraments matter.
The priest, and whatever sins he commited, do not.
Oh, yes, he shouldn't have committed those sins.
Absolutely the Church should be cleansed of the sodomites - you'll get no disagreement from me on that. It is a sin for a bishop to ordain even a non-active homosexual.
But, ultimately, the Church is about my relationship with Christ via the sacraments. The priest is the janitor in the house of God. His service is important, but the house doesn't exist to keep the janitor employed. The house exists for me to meet and live with my Spouse, the living Christ.
We are not meant to look through a mirror, darkly.
We must look past the idiots, even the idiots in our morning mirrors, so that we can gaze upon the face of God.