Saint Tarcisius, the Catholic Priesthood, and Sexual Abuse

By Judie Brown, September 18, 2018

The current scandals in the Catholic Church have caused great pain for many of us. Yet, in the midst of this tragedy, words of wisdom and insight—especially those of Monsignor Charles Pope—help and guide us. He tells us that the current situation is a “painful crisis of clergy sexual abuse, vague leadership, and lack of accountability.”

In an article in the National Catholic Register, Monsignor Pope goes on to say:

The faithful are bewildered, saddened, and justifiably angry.

Of especially destructive potential are errors regarding the nature, sanctity, and indissolubility of marriage; the worthy reception of Holy Communion; the nature and purpose of human sexuality; and the dignity of human life from conception [which is properly understood as the first moment of a baby’s existence] to natural death. The faithful have long urged that bishops lead fearlessly, teach with clarity, and reprove those who teach errors in these matters. Instead of being listened to, they have seen their pleas too often fall on deaf ears and have even been rebuffed as intolerant, pharisaical, and overly narrow in focus.

Each of us is called to confront the toxicity of what many of those ordained to the priesthood—especially many bishops—have embraced, while at the same time vowing to be part of the solution.

This is where St. Tarcisius comes in. At the age of 12, during the Roman persecutions of the third century, this young boy served as an acolyte. One day, he was sent on a special mission to carry the Eucharist to Christians in prison who had been condemned to death. On the way there, Tarcisius was accosted by a crowd of boys who beat him to death when he refused to let them see what was in the bag he was carrying. He chose to protect and defend Christ in the Eucharist unto death.

When I consider the tragedy that has befallen both the Catholic priesthood and us as laity because of the sexual sins of homosexuality in the priesthood, I am reminded of this 12-year-old boy who preferred to die rather than witness the desecration of the body of Christ in the Eucharist.

How many Catholic bishops and priests would defend Christ in the Eucharist in that same way today?

Of those who would not, how many of them are involved in this current crisis?

Though we pose these questions without precise answers, they are worthy of consideration.

Since the launching of our project to defend Christ in the Eucharist from sacrilege, American Life League has consistently said that the fundamental reason we began this quest is because we see the inextricable link between the preborn child and the hidden Christ. Both are unseen by mere human eyes, but both are real and should be cherished, revered, and protected, even unto death.

Monsignor Pope writes that we are “rebuffed as intolerant, pharisaical, and overly narrow in focus” by many bishops and others because of our faith in the truth and our defense of that truth. Now more than ever we must press on, heeding these encouraging words written by Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International. Boquet reminds us that we need saints. He calls on us to “restore the purity and integrity of Holy Mother Church by becoming those saints and acting as examples to the world. Then, as in the early Church, the world may pause and pay attention to the Christians, inspired by their integrity, generosity and holiness, so different from the grasping selfishness of the Culture of Death.”

This call to holiness is one we must not take lightly. As we defend Christ, defend life, and defend truth, we pray for the Church, for all sinners—including ourselves—and we beg our Lord for forgiveness and mercy.