An Explanation for our Children

I was both saddened and shocked by the Bishop’s announcement this morning that Fr. Bill would be leaving our Prince of Peace parish for breaking his priestly vow of chastity.  But in addition to my own dismay and disappointment, I knew that my husband and I would be facing a tremendous explanation to our children at breakfast this morning.  We knew that they were catching enough of the homily to understand that something was not right within our parish, but they needed an explanation to clarify their confusion.  We survived this daunting conversation with relative success – as much as could be hoped for in this situation – and I thought that perhaps other parents might benefit from a few ideas on how to explain this to our children.

We began by saying that from the first sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we humans are not perfect, whether we are parents, teachers, or priests.  And at some point or another, we all make mistakes.  But some mistakes are bigger than others.

When a husband and wife make a promise before God to love only each other, they should keep that promise.  So too should priests keep their vows as they “marry” the Church and promise to be faithful to God alone.  But in a marriage, sometimes people make a mistake and decide to stop loving their spouse and love someone else.  This seemed to make sense to our kids since they were familiar with families who have gone through a divorce.  It hurts everyone – from those making the mistake to the spouse left behind, and definitely the children.  In the same way, Fr. Bill made a mistake not to love the Church as he had promised and as a result, the Church and we the children of the Church are hurt by his actions.

But just as a child doesn’t stop loving his parent who leaves, nor should we stop loving or praying for those clergy who have fallen into sin.  In fact, we should try to understand that, nearly more than anyone, our priests and religious are under more of an attack by the devil to fall into sin.  The devil would love nothing more than to see these men and women who are consecrated so closely to God, who lead so many others to his Son, lose their way.

So we ended the conversation by saying that we must pray for Fr. Bill and all of our priests to remain strong in the face of all sorts of temptation.  We must pray for the strength of our families.  And may the Holy Spirit continue to guide our parish and those who lead it.


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