According to a truly shocking story in the Chicago Tribune, two men recently walked into the sacristy of a Catholic church after Mass and demanded cash from a 73-year-old priest.
That alone is frightening enough. But what accompanied their demand should send chills through any decent person. One of the men ominously said to the priest:
"We'll say you touched us, read the paper, they'll believe us."
Indeed, such words are the fear of every living cleric. It is open season on Catholic priests today. An accusation, threat, or mere suggestion of abuse is enough to destroy a priest's reputation and vault a man out of the priesthood forever.
Even long-deceased priests with previously unblemished records are not immune from specious accusations, which the media then dutifully and loudly trumpet.
Whereas mainstream media outlets like the New York Times and the Boston Globe are willing to fall over themselves to report any and all accusations against Catholic priests – no matter how long ago or how flimsy – the time is long overdue for them to seriously address the issue of false accusations and the dauntingly vulnerable position which priests in society find themselves today.
This frightening episode in Chicago only underscores this critical need.