HOW could men who were supposed to be dedicated to God and to the welfare of God’s children sink to the level of betraying their God and destroying innocent children, doing them almost irreparable harm?
I believe the answer, simplistic though it may seem to some, is that these men allowed Satan to corrupt their very selves by neglecting humble and sincere prayerful contact with God, a vital part of their priestly training.
Christ gave the example of frequent prayer to God as vital in the continuous battle with Satan. He warned his future first Pope, Simon Peter, that Satan was the dangerous enemy who would strive to destroy him and the church. "Simon, Simon, behold Satan demanded to have you that he may sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned again strengthen your brothers."
St John, in his gospel, relates very dramatically how Satan and possessed the heart of Judas, a priest of Christ, corrupting him so that he went out to betray the Son of God. In his evil endeavour in corrupting numbers of priests throughout the world, Satan strives thereby to destroy the church.
The priests who betrayed their vocation must firstly have themselves cut off contact with their God in the discipline of humble and sincere prayer, which is a vital part of every priest’s daily life. Like every person in Ireland, but particularly as a priest, I am shocked, humiliated and devastated by the horrible events as depicted in the Murphy report and I pray every day for all the people who as innocent children were so terribly harmed and wounded, and I pray God’s forgiveness for those who inflicted the harm and suffering.
St Peter, following the warning of Christ himself, admonished the early church. "Be sober, be watchful, your adversary the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith."
Alas, Satan in his wiles infiltrated the minds of church leaders who opted for worldly wisdom as opposed to divine wisdom in deciding to save the church from scandal as they saw it, rather than protecting God’s innocent children.
The way forward for all, but especially for those in authority, is a renewed and continuous dedication to following Christ in the example of his own life and through putting into practice the prescriptions he gave us in his Sermon on the Mount.
All this can only be achieved by humble, continuous and sincere contact with Christ in prayer.
Fr Con McGillicuddy
Grace Park Road