Second Collection


As Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan have repeatedly demonstrated, it’s hard to look your best in a mug shot. Even so, I could see from the photograph in the paper that the years hadn’t been kind to the man whom I had last seen decades ago in the seminary. Now an ordained priest and pastor, he had just been arrested for stealing money from his parish. Tons of it. Enough to support an extravagant “alter-life” in a fancy big-city apartment with designer suits for himself and Ivy League tuition for his boyfriend. I remember him from seminary as bright, quiet, prayerful, and older than the rest of us. He had made quite a career for himself in the business world and left it all to begin preparation for the priesthood. He seemed so settled and sure in his decisions that I envied his certainty and confidence.

The paper reported that he told the police he had grown to hate being a priest. He said he was annoyed by his diocese, angry at receiving what he believed were the worst assignments, where he was sent to fix problems that other priests had caused. Apparently, then, he felt justified in dipping into the parish collection plate to pay for various extravagances and gifts for his lover. It was owed to him, he said.

I can feel compassion for someone who is struggling with sexual issues or living through a crisis of vocation. I even understand how someone becomes angry and frustrated with the “system.” But what galls me, and what I cannot comprehend, is the betrayal of a...

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About the Author

Fr. Nonomen (a pseudonym) is the pastor of a suburban parish. He has been a priest for more than twenty years.