Twenty years ago the sexual crimes of some clergy began to be revealed, thanks be to God. Finally the clean-up could begin. But the media focused almost entirely on the Catholic Church, and some asked why priests were singled out when ministers and rabbis, scout masters and schoolteachers, also commit these crimes in similar numbers. There are many reasons, but one is clear: society expects Catholic priests to be more faithful to the Gospel because their Church declares them to be truly spiritual fathers and spouses of Holy Mother Church. We don’t call ministers and rabbi’s “father;” we don’t expect teachers and scout masters to sacrifice themselves as “spouses” for their constituencies. Society’s outrage against Catholic priests pointed to our common belief in the Catholic priesthood. The world seemed to be saying that when a priest abuses a child it is worse than when a public schoolteacher does so.
Today we consider St. Joseph under the title “Joseph Most Faithful.” Father of the Incarnate God and spouse of the Mother of God, he was called to greater fidelity than any other man in history. He had to have greater faith than other fathers and spouses. He had to believe when he couldn’t see, which is the definition of faith. He had to believe that this little boy was God, and would save the world; he had to believe his wife had conceived by the Holy Spirit and was carrying the Redeemer of the World in her womb. He did that most of all by his silence. He simply believed, and he didn’t argue. Joseph’s silence…. We also should speak less, and believe more. The essential problem with Catholic priests, and why some have committed such unbelievable crimes, was that they gave up on daily prayer.