The National Pulse

A Heartbroken Old Priest’s Message for Catholics

Last Sunday, I went to Mass said by a priest who is in his 80s or 90s. He is retired but still says Mass at a local parish every Sunday.

However, this was no ordinary Sunday — this was a Sunday in the thick of the church’s sexual abuse scandal. It was only a little more than 12 hours after the release of a bombshell 11-page letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States, asserting that Pope Francis knew about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s long record of abusing young men. Vigano said that Pope Francis not only disregarded Vigano’s warnings, but also lifted McCarrick’s sentence of a lifetime of prayer and penance imposed by Pope Benedict. (A lifetime of prayer and penance is similar to house arrest in Church law.) Although we had known about McCarrick for several weeks, we did not know about Pope Francis’s role in it until then.

There was palpable anger, even rage, in the old priest’s voice. It was heartbreaking to witness this old man see the Church to which he devoted his entire life brought to its knees by the evil, selfish, and satanic actions carried out by its most powerful men.

With fiery conviction, the old priest declared that the “cockroaches” must be run out of the Church. He said Pope Francis was not courageous enough to call out the core issue and that the Church needed new leadership to clean house from top to bottom.

Most strikingly, he called for Pope Francis to resign along with any bishop or priest whose hands are dirty. Applause almost never happens during a priest’s homily, because it is generally not appropriate during Mass. But when the old priest said this, the congregation could not help themselves — we broke out into spontaneous applause.

Human beings do wicked things. They have been doing them for as long as they have walked the earth. We should not be surprised that there are wicked and selfish people in the Church. But Catholics should not be jaded or give up on her. The correct response is to drive the wicked and complicit alike out of the Church, just as Jesus drove out the profaners from his Father’s temple.

The old priest closed his homily by begging us, the lay people, to pray, pray, pray for our Church. Jesus promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. Catholics must trust that promise and pray daily for the courage and strength to do what is necessary in the face of this evil now confronting us.

Thomas Valentine

Thomas Valentine is a columnist for

  • Well I’m heartbroken that this priest took so long go public with his complaint. Where was this priest when all those kids were being sexually abuse? He waits until he retires to speak out.

    That’s a sin.

  • Well I’m heartbroken that this old priest took so long to speak up. Where was this priest when all those kids were being abused? He waits until he retires to speak out.

    That’s a sin.

  • The “cockroaches” this priest refers to have been crawling around the Catholic Church for decades. Pope John Paul was complicit in child molestation coverups. Pope Benedict XVI ‘knew more about clergy sex crimes than anyone else in church yet did little to protect children’, say critics. For the legions of people whose childhoods and adult lives were wrecked by sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy, Pope Benedict XVI is an unloved pontiff who will not be missed.In 2001, while he was a cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church’s interests ahead of child safety.
    The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it. And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated.

    Why has this priest been silent all these years? I’m guessing that he is more interested in a right wing coup against the current pope who is seen as not sufficiently hateful towards gay Catholics. Yes, Pope Francis is answerable to the charges. But then so are his accusers, all of whom silently covered up child abuse when it was politically expedient.


    • Actually this has been going on for over five hundred years, and has nothing to do with church politics. Francis needs to resign, or he is a hypocrite.

    • How come this “heartbroken” priest didn’t call for John Paul or Benedict’s resignation? Yes, right wing politics. Yes, hypocrisy!

    • Yes, you are right, the Catholic Church has been covering up 500 years’ worth of sexual assaults against children. So that begs the question: Why is it only now that we hear from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano? There was no outrage against raping kids when it was done under John Paul and Benedict? Where was this old priest? Where was Valentine? They silently allowed child abuse when it was a conservative who was pope.

      You would know the answer if you read the 11 page letter written by Vigano. He is exploiting child abuse to further a vicious campaign against gay Catholics.

      Hypocrites and Bigots.
      Yes, Francis should probably resign. But so should Vigano.

  • This is absolutely what has to happen! Anything less is not good enough. Thank God for this priest and his honesty. God bless hiss words and may take root in the Catholic Church! Amen

    • Say it Varna!!!
      Not only has the Catholic Church looked the other way while its children have been physically and sexually abused, but its leaders have also molested the minds of gay youth with its vicious bigotry.

      A new leadership is needed.