“Who but God alone can forgive sins?” (Mark 2:7)
Sin involves corrupting the pure integrity of God’s beautiful plan. A plan for the salvation and glorification of all things.
We pray for the marchers up in Washington. We share their zeal. In the womb, God knits together an unfathomable plan. It’s like a little Garden of Eden. May no hand of violence ever desecrate that garden.
God, the pure One, can forgive the sins of us impure ones. He even uses some of us impure ones as His instruments of mercy. The Son of God entrusted “the power of the keys” to His Church. He gave His Apostles and their successors in office the authority to forgive sins in the name of God. To continue the Incarnation, so to speak. Jesus, when He walked the earth, had the authority to forgive sins. Bishops and priests have that same authority, as ministers of Christ.
But a profound responsibility accompanies that authority, doesn’t it? When we go to confession, we go with faith in the power of the keys. But we also need to have confidence in the human integrity of the confessor. We have to trust that the priest who hears my confession will respond according to true discipline, guided by holy teaching.
That is: He won’t distort my own conscience by calling good evil or evil good. He won’t betray God’s mercy by being too hard on me, or betray God’s justice by being too easy on me.
My point is: The supernatural grace of Holy Orders means that even a sinner can offer Christ’s sacraments. But in the confessional, our faith in that supernatural grace has to meet a representative of a human institution with integrity. Yes, all priests are sinners, too. But a confessor receiving penitents cannot be a liar. He cannot be a swindler or a sodomite. He cannot be an atheist or a heretic.
…On March-for-Life Day, the young Catholic Church in America takes Her vigorous stand. Faith, hope, and love show up on Constitution Avenue.
But She limps this year. Her faith God invigorates Her as always. But Her inability to trust in the fundamental integrity of the clerical hierarchy saps Her strength.
Our faith in the triune God does not contradict reason. But, at the beginning of 2019, we cannot rationally claim that our clerical hierarchy has integrity. If we did claim that, reasonable non-Catholics would make arguments to the contrary. And we would have no answers.
May God send us leaders to get our footing back. It will take a long time. But we can do it, if we hold on. We sinners, who want to live honest lives.