Move Ministries to the Margins

The scandal of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy, the diminishing number of priests and an overemphasis on professionalism may be coloring how the leaders of religious orders think about the priesthood, said Archbishop-designate Joseph W. Tobin (pictured), a Redemptorist from the United States recently appointed secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. He was speaking in Long Beach, Calif., at the annual assembly of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men on Aug. 7. Clerical sexual abuse has provoked repugnance throughout the church and has led some people to see religious leaders as hypocritical and arrogant, Archbishop-designate Tobin said. As a counterforce, he suggested that the priests recall the healing of the deaf man in the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Mark. The story placed Jesus in a “religious and social no-man’s land, a place where pious Jews would not be comfortable.” He said, “The place for consecrated people today is the space where people are excluded from their full dignity as sons and daughters of God.”

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