“If you get an urge to say something against a brother or a sister, to drop a gossip bomb, bite your tongue! Hard!”
These were the words of the Holy Father at the close of the Year of Consecrated Life. The Pope voiced his concerns of the gossip atmosphere found in the Church, particularly in religious orders where members trash each other or others outside of the order. He also criticize orders for accepting just anyone into religious life without screening applicants’ true intentions and whether or not they do have a genuine vocation.
I agree with the Pope. There is too much of a display of fallen human nature than divine grace among religious, clergy and the laity. I have had personal experiences with the aformentioned who have done all kinds of things to stifle my ideas of evangelization. They apparently felt threatened by my presence, assertiveness, educational background and courage to take on risks. These were mostly older Catholics, but a few were young as well (near my age). When they did not get their way, they would make up stories or talk behind my back in order to get others against me (divide and conquer tactics). I remember two ladies who always tried hard to ruin liturgies I had planned by the book (rubrics). They had tried to incorporate their new age-Protestant-like ideas into Masses, but had to deal with me.
Another guy was also jealous of me because the pastor favored me. This guy took it upon himself to act as master of ceremonies at Masses for years, but never officially was. He is openly gay and dresses like a priest with a cassock. I have even seen photos of him dressed in a papal cassock! Needless to say, he did not like me very much and at one time on Good Friday grabbed my shoulder trying to make me face him since I was ignoring his baiting. I immediately notified the police present there for the procession. Unfortunately, though he was removed, he, I believe, has returned after I was assigned elsewhere years later and is still pretending to play master of ceremonies at several parishes while living a double life.
There was also a layman who was ordained a deacon. He was very docile as a layman, but when he became a deacon, he tried to present himself as being ‘above’ me as if we were in the army and were using ranks. However, the pastor made him know publicly that I was in charge. About a year or two later, he moved to Florida so I did not have to deal with him. Lastly and one of the most craziest is involving this priest from Peru who because of gossip, turned against me. He used to be friendly with me. I even helped him learn some English. However, he changed. One time I was serving as an extraordinary minister of the Holy Eucharist and he told me to leave publicly while having the microphone on. The people at the Mass were scandalized and attacked him for him afterwards. After a priest I know became the pastor of the parish, this priest and the one who did not like me argued constantly. The latter was forced out. He was either mentally ill or was a forced vocation and was bitter all his life.
It is this behavior that discourages many Catholics and forces them to leave the Church for another faith or leave the faith altogether. Today, we see online many blogs trashing the Pope by people who call themselves ‘traditionalists.’ In my many discussions with them, they have come across as ignorant of actual Church doctrine and have their convictions based on nostalgia, not faith or reason. In any event, this must stop. We must show the world now more than ever what Christianity is all about: Faith, Love and Hope. It is not about selective faith, love for those who agree with us and hope for things to return to the way they were before Vatican II.
Lastly, I agree that there needs to be more screening of people trying to enter religious life or the priesthood/seminary. While psychology is not perfect, it can be useful at screening underlying psychological issues in people. Moreover, tests of character are needed. We cannot allow people who are rude, arrogant, stubborn, immature etc to join the ranks, so to speak. These people do not have the temperament to handle the challenges of religious or diocesan (priesthood) life.