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A Plea for Compassion and Obedience

alec vanderboom

The story of a priest being suspended for denying the Eucharist to a self-admitted practicing lesbian at her mother's Funeral Mass has made national headlines. This story happened a few miles from my old house in Maryland. I'm not linking to any of the stories, because outside of my local Catholic paper, I have yet to see an online story (Catholic or secular) that is completely unbiased.

I'm pleading with my Catholic friends and readers--we can not judge. We can not judge the priest. We can not judge Cardinal Wurel (the Archbishop who has suspended his right to practice priestly duties in Washington D.C.)

It's very hard to stay little, and fight our innate curiosity. But it is not up to us to decide this matter from random press clippings. This is a matter for our Catholic leadership to decide with wisdom of the Holy Spirit. It is totally possible that this priest is totally innocent. He could be suffering unjust persecution, as a special "gift" from God. (Blessed are those who are persecuted for my name.) If that is true, God will protect him. All of his suffering is winning him great praise and glory in heaven.

It's also important to understand that this story was plastered on the front page of the Washington Post the same week that the Catholic Church lost her battle to prevent gay marriage from becoming legal in the State of Maryland. There is a vital fight to get Maryland voters to overturn legalize gay marriage at the ballot box this November. The Catholic Church again will be in the fore-front of protecting the traditional definition of marriage. There is a bigger picture behind the scene. Who knows what other threats or problems Cardinal Wurel can see, that we on the ground can not. God bless our bishops, who often have to make unpopular decisions.

I know as a Carmelite I sound like a broken record, but the very best thing we can do is pray. Don't get mad. Don't argue opinions. Don't make up Facebook petitions.

Just pray that this poor priest (who is actually a priest on loan from Moscow, so he's very alone in his sufferings on foreign soil) feels the special consoling love of Our Blessed Mother during this cross. Pray that the Bishop is filled with the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit as he investigates this matter. And please pray for all gays and lesbians in Maryland. It's really hard to understand that Our Mother, the Catholic Church loves her children so much--that she does NOT say that it's okay to do whatever you want in your private sex life and still receive the Eucharist. Our Church is a real Mother. She says "get yourself cleaned up, get out of the fake pleasure of mortal sin, and come start enjoying the true joy that comes with being an obedient child of God."

May the State of Maryland become "Mary's Land" once again.