The Subject of Priestly Scandal
in the Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena
While the scandals some of God’s ministers commit infamous acts that defile the Church of God, it could be of use to us to reread these extracts from the Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena. As was witnessed by Blessed Raymond of Capoue, her confessor, this work is composed of the revelations of God the Father to the saint, who dictated them in her ecstasies or were heard by her. Their principal interest for us resides in the supernatural spirit with which these priestly scandals must be judged.
Exigence of Sanctity
“I have made them sacred and have called them my priests because I have charged them to give myself to you...angels do not possess this dignity. I have given it to men whom I have chosen for my ministers. I have established them like the angels and they must be terrestrial angels in this life. I demand purity and chastity from all souls; I will that they love me and their neighbor, aid their neighbor as they are able, assist their neighbor by their prayers and living in union with them, as I have already told you in the treating of this subject. But I expect a much greater purity from my ministers; I demand of them a greater love for me and their neighbor to whom they must administer the body and blood of my Son with ardent charity, thirst for the salvation of souls, and for the praise and glory of my name.”
The Guiltiness of Priests
“O temples of the demon! I have chosen you to be angels upon earth, but you are demons; you do his work! Demons spread their shadows and become cruel executioners. They strive, using their best efforts, temptations and attacks, to destroy grace in souls by making them fall into mortal sin...these evil, unworthy priests, called my ministers, are devils incarnate because by their faults they submit themselves to the will of the demon and they fulfill his functions. They distribute me, the true Sun, in the midst of the shadows of mortal sin and they spread the shadows of their guilty and disorderly lives among reasonable creatures who are confided to them. They trouble and scandalize those that see them live their lives thus, and often due to their bad examples and paths of evil and error, they repel others far from grace and the way of truth.”
“Do not let their vices become a roadblock. Follow my doctrine alone...I am the good and eternal God; I reward all good and punish all evil. I will not withhold my vengeance. My justice will not spare them because they have had the honor of being my ministers. They will on the contrary, if they do not convert, be punished more severely than others because they will have received more of my goodness; the more they miserably offend me, the more they will be worthy of punishment. You see that they are indeed demons, rather than my elect, of whom I have spoken to you of the angels upon earth who fulfill the functions of the angels.”
“The fools have darkened the light of their intelligence; they no longer see the corruption and the mire in which they are buried. This sin causes me extreme horror such that, to punish this, my vengeance swallowed five cities. My justice cannot withstand this sin which causes me so much horror...you see, my beloved daughter, how much this sin is odious to me in every creature: but imagine that it must irritate me all the more in those whom I have called to live a life in continence and above all those whom I have separated from the world by the religious or priestly life in order that they may bear fruit in the mystical body of the Church. You could never understand how much this sin displeases me more in those [souls] than in all who live in the world or those who should live in continence.
“All are guilty; the laity are not excused by the sins of their pastors, nor the pastors by those of the laity.”
After having pointed out the pride of the unworthy clerics, the Father names others who are responsible:
“All of these evils are caused by superiors who do not watch over those who are confided to them.”
What Reaction Must We Have Before All of These Scandals?
“All that I have told you, my daughter, is to make you weep more bitterly over the blindness of those who are in this state of damnation, for you to know my mercy better in order that you may place all of your confidence in this mercy, and that you invoke it in presenting these ministers of the holy Church and the universe before me. The more that you offer me these tender and sorrowful desires for them, the more that you witness the love you have for me. Neither yourself, nor my ministers can be useful to me, but you must render me service by this means.”
“Yes, I will let myself be influenced by these desires, tears and prayers of my servants; I will give mercy to my Spouse in reforming Her by holy and good shepherds...I have told you these things…so that you are more ardent in offering me your sweet, tender, and beloved desires for the guilty ones...I do not wish that [their faults] alter the respect due towards them. I have shown you the excellence of my holy ministers in whom shines the precious gem of virtue and justice.”
“Now, my dear daughter, I invite you all, you and my other servants, to mourn over these dead, and to stay like faithful sheep in the garden of the holy Church, nourishing yourselves continually with holy desires, and offering me the incense of your continual prayers for them because I want to show mercy to the world. Do not let yourself be distracted by anything, neither by hurt, nor by prosperity. Do not lift up your head by impatience or by disordered joy, but humbly apply yourself to procure my honor, the salvation of souls, and the reform of the holy Church. You thus prove to me that you love me in truth. You know that I have shown you this: that I want you to be faithful sheep who always nourish yourselves in the garden of the holy Church enduring weariness and pain until the hour of death.”
Translated from the French by Associate Editor Jane Carver.