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Review for Opus Bono Sacerdotii, Oxford, MI, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Since 2002, the organization called Opus Bono Sacerdotii—“Work for the Good of the Priesthood”—has been caring for priests who have sinned and committed crimes, and who have been cast out by the bishops and religious superiors who educated and trained them. Opus Bono Sacerdotii was established to welcome these outcasts to help them begin new lives. These men might rightly be called the least of our brothers.

The teaching and example of Pope Francis—with his emphasis on mercy and on caring for outcasts and marginalized people—has given Opus Bono Sacerdotii new insight into the nature and value of its ministry. The work of Opus Bono Sacerdotii can suggest some of the practical implications of the words and example of Pope Francis about mercy, forgiveness, and marginalized people.

Some Catholics may even deny that the Sermon on the Mount applies to fallen priests. Opus Bono Sacerdotii, however, shares the ethos embodied in the slogan “Love Thy Neighbor. No Exceptions.”

I have observed the ministry of Opus Bono Sacerdotii since I did some consulting with them during 2015. It is my own belief that the dioceses and religious communities to which these fallen priests formerly belonged have a clear obligation to help these men start over until they can support themselves. This is part of the call of the Gospel to be merciful, and it’s frankly also a matter of fundamental human decency. Opus Bono Sacerdotii ministers to these former priests whenever their bishops and religious superiors do not—and it deserves financial assistance from men, women, and organizations who have been blessed with the resources to support its work.

Some of the men Opus Bono ministers to represent a worst-case scenario—a perfect test case to see if there are Americans who accept what the Gospel tells us about our call to identify ourselves with God’s all-inclusive mercy and forgiveness.

Sadly, some Christians seem instead to insist on what they see as their personal right to continue judging some of these men. People who identify themselves as Christians—and who find that they want to exclude the men Opus Bono assists—should think and pray about just what our tradition from the Sermon on the Mount to Pope Francis means when it explicitly says “no exceptions.” I submit that there is no room for a spirit of vengeance within the Christian tradition.

I personally hope that bishops and religious superiors—and others with the means to help—will consider making generous donations to Opus Bono Sacerdotii, which is the only organization that helps fallen priests. Whatever their sins, Opus Bono Sacerdotii refuses to allow former priests to become part of what Pope Francis calls our “throw-away culture.”

Role:  Advisor