Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When A Priest Stumbles

A friend of mine brought to my attention the case of Fr. Euteneuer from Human Life International and the reasons for his resignation in August of 2010.  Evidentially, since the time of this resignation people have made claims resulting in the statement from Fr. Euteneuer clarifying why he stepped down.

What are we to make of this?

First of all, we must not make excuses.  If a thing is bad for a priest to do, then we cannot justify or explain away that bad thing by the other good the priest has done.

Second, we must also remember that the attitude of the sinner is to be considered.  The priest who falls is deeply repentant, we must remember we are commanded by Christ to forgive Seventy times Seven. 

Third, we must remember that it is false witness to accuse anyone of something without proof. 

Finally, the sins of Fr. Euteneuer do not negate the positions he stands for.  That would be an ad hominem attack, irrelevant to the truth of what he professes.

I am reminded of the 1955 Alec Guinness movie, The Prisoner.  In it, Alec Guinness plays an unnamed Cardinal arrested by the state.  I am not trying to draw parallels between the character and Fr. Euteneuer here of course (the problem with analogy is that people can draw a conclusion different than you intend).  What comes to mind is that eventually he does behave in a way which is terribly demoralizing to the people… and then he is released.

As he is leaving he says to one individual, “Try not to judge the priesthood by the priest.”

I think this is a key thing to remember here.  Whether the man who is ordained is totally immoral or a well meaning man who has a moral lapse, it is not right to judge the whole by the part.  That is stereotyping.

We don’t judge the priesthood by the fall of Fr. Euteneuer.  We feel sorrow he had fallen.  We see his repentance and we forgive.  We pray for him and for all priests that they might be strong.

1 comment:

  1. Father Euteneur is a good Priest and has done great things for Our Lord and for the cause of life. This incident shows that he is human and subject to temptations just as we are. It is sad that he could not resist better in this case. Yet I certainly cannot say that I am a better man.

    God bless you always, Father Euteneur.