Thursday of the Octave of Easter
(Acts 3:11-26; Luke 24:35-48)
A pastor is accused of an indiscretion that is supposed to have been done forty years ago. He is removed from service despite protests of his parishioners who honor and respect him. Another priest asks, “…is there no forgiveness for one mistake made many, many years ago?” The question is hard but fair in view of today’s first reading.
Peter is speaking to the people of Jerusalem. He accuses them of handing over for execution Jesus, the “author of life.” But his tone is conciliatory. He acknowledges that they acted out of ignorance and affirms their status as “children of the prophets and of the covenant.” He offers them forgiveness and added blessings. These benefits come with the outpouring of grace from Jesus’ resurrection.
A dozen years ago the bishops of the United States set the rule “one strike and you’re out” to deal with the sexual abuse scandal. They needed to act boldly to reestablish confidence in the Catholic Church. In the process worthy priests as well as scoundrels have been stripped of their ministry. As we pray for the victims of abuse and that it never takes place again, we pray also for these priests. We might add that perhaps now with the crisis over, the Church might relax the rule. In single cases where rehabilitation has obviously occurred, a priest should be forgiven so that he might continue his good service.