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I have to admit that in my six years as a deacon, I don’t think a single homily has generated as many after mass comments as this past week “Jesus challenges the conventional wisdom on forgiveness. “

I guess that it was to be expected. I suspected that using the example of a convicted pedophile priest in a homily was certainly not a safe road to travel. Many in the congregation would almost certainly be uncomfortable and some would be  angry and perhaps hurt by mention of this true story. I thought about it and prayed on it, and I decided to do it for two primary reasons:

* to make the point of how radical Jesus’ love is for all of us- even  for the worst among us;
* to try and set up a scene that would be the modern day equivalent to the sinful woman entering the room of men at the house of the Pharisees.

There were two basic questions and/or concerns, I got after the fact by e-mail and a phone call- a phone call from a furious parishioner:

Question 1: How could I use such an example when we are only starting as a church to come to grips with this sin in our midst? It is too soon to mention it much less offer the offenders any kind of forgiveness.

Question 2: was actually a couple of questions from an  “interested parent”. They are great questions on the topic of forgiveness, and they appear at the bottom of the homily post. I will re-post the questions this week and try to explore the topics in a bit more detail. I appreciate each of the questioners, even the angry, yet very respectful and Christian caller.

Finally, for all who may have had difficulty with the homily, even though I only got 1 call, there must be more, I hope you take a moment and re-read  it. I trust you will see that it in no way tries to justify the act of this priest or minimize the devastating impact on the victims.

For those of you who are not aware I minister to victims and offenders of sexual abuse as part of the Friends of Dismas ministry. It is a devastating subject for all. This is the reason it is a case that helps illustrate how radical Jesus’ actions were 2000 years ago at the dinner at the house of Simon the Pharisee. He reached out and forgave this woman of sins those assembled considered to be unforgivable, and he touched the one they all saw as untouchable.

It is not easy BUT if you think Christianity is easy you may have to think again.

2 Responses to “Two Questions from an interested parent and a furious parishioner!”

  1. Nancy says:

    Dear Deacon Mike:
    I am new at St. Partrick’s and was so glad to hear such a brave and honest homily on Sunday, June 12th.

    I have spoken of it to others and have said that it was one of the truest and most challenging homilies I have ever heard. It reminded me of a comment that the actor Martin Sheen made some time ago when involved in a peace rally. He was questioned by a reporter. “Mr. Sheen, are you a Communist?” He answered, “No, I am something much more dangerous than that, I am a Roman Catholic”.

    I have heard so much vitriole in the discussions around clergy sexual abuse. There is no question that it is a terrible evil. However, amidst the compassion for the victims, it seems there is no such thing for the perpetrator never mind mercy. To even mention the notion of mercy has often brought a diatribe of anger to me. Worse, it appears that to take that stand one is perceived as being in favour of child sexual abuse.

    The Jesus I love and whose servant I am, calls us to the kind of radical behaviour you indicated in your wonderful homily. I found great comfort in it as well as a renewed call to truly follow the teaching of the Gospel. Thank you!

  2. deaconmike says:

    Nancy

    Thanks so much for your e-mail it was wonderful to hear from you. Keep up the radical behaviour!

    God Bless
    Mike