“Bishops, priests, and deacons are too often weak and sinful. They need to be held to high standards. Some deserve to be chastised. The clergy’s leadership in the Church should always be marked by humility and service, and never by a sense of entitlement. But men and women didn’t found the Church, they don’t own her; and they have no license to reinvent her. The Church belongs to Jesus Christ, and the different roles with the Christian community – clergy, laity, and religious life – have equal dignity but different purposes. Sin and failure, including by the clergy, need to be named. But when people deride their bishops and priests out of pride and resentment or some perverse desire for they perceive as ‘power,’ they undermine the Church herself, and they set themselves against the God whose vessel she is. And that, as Scripture suggests, leads in a painful direction.
All real reform in the Church requires two things. Today’s Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 51 – gives us the first thing. We find it in the lines ‘Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow;’ and ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.’ Renewal begins not in vilifying others, but in examining ourselves honestly, repenting of our sins and changing ourselves. This applies to every baptized person, from the Pope to the average man or woman earning a wage. We are all sinners. We are all in need of repentance and God’s mercy. When we really understand that, we can speak to each other with both honesty and love, and restoring the mission of the Church can begin.”
– Archbishop Charles Chaput
Homily at Knights of Columbus Convention, August 2, 2011