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7.05.2012

Great Article from the Redemptorist's Newsletter:

COMMENTARY:
Commentary
A Catholic Priest's letter to the New York Times
“A Falling Tree Makes More Noise than a Thousand Trees Growing”
Father Martin Lasarte, SDB



I am a simple Catholic priest who feels happy and proud of his calling. I have been a missionary in Angola for 20 years.
I have been frequently reading in the media but above all in your paper about the topic of pedophile priests. This is often done with morbid interest, hunting for details in the lives of priests for errors in the distant past. There is a priest in a US city who is in his 70’s, another in Australia in his 80’s, and so on and others more current… without a doubt all these cases are reprehensible!
There are journalists who present a well thought out and balanced picture, but others exaggerate, filling their reports with prejudices and even hate. I feel a great sadness for the terrible wrong that priests who ought to be signs of God’s love, have been instead a deadly dagger into the lives of innocent people. There is nothing that can justify their acts. There is no doubt that the Church must be on the side of those who are weak and most vulnerable. For this reason, all efforts that we can take to prevent and protect the dignity of children ought always to be an absolute priority.
However, it is curious that there is little news and a lack of interest for the thousands of priests who sacrifice their life and dedicate their life for millions of children, for adolescents and for the most underprivileged in the four corners of the world.
It seems to me that your paper is uninterested in the fact that I had to transport from Cangumbe to Lwena (Angola) many scrawny ragged children over roads filled with landmines because of the war in 2002 because neither the government could do it nor could the NGOs get authorization; that I had to bury dozens of children dead because of the displacement caused by the war; that we saved the lives of thousands of persons in Mexico by means of the only health station that existed in a 90,000 sq. km area along with the distribution of food and seed. That we were able to educate and have schools over the last 10 years for more than 110,000 children.
Nor is there interest in the fact that with other priests we helped nearly 15,000 people in guerilla camps after they gave up their guns, because the food from the government and the ONGs did not arrive. It did not make headlines when a 75 year old priest, Father Roberto, went through the city of Luanda taking care of street children, bringing them to a safe house so that they could be detoxified from gasoline that they inhaled while trying to earn a living as flame throwers.
Adult literacy for hundreds of prisoners does not make the news. That other priests like Father Stephane set up transition homes so that young people who were mistreated, beaten and even raped could find refuge. Neither that Father Maiato who at 80 visits the homes of the poor one by one comforting the sick and despairing. It’s not news that more than 6,000 from among the 40,000 priests and religious have left their country and their families to serve their brothers and sisters in leprosarium, in hospitals, in refugee camps, in orphanages for children accused of sorcery or orphans of parents who have died of Aids, in schools for the very poor, in centres for professional training, in welcoming centres for those who are HIV positive….etc.
Or, above all, giving their life in parishes and on missions, motivating people to live better lives and above all to love. It’s not news when my friend Father Marc-Aurele, in order to save children during the war in Angola, brought them from Kalulo to Dondo and when returning from this mission was gunned down on the road in a hail of bullets. That Brother Francois with five female catechists were killed in an accident while going to an isolated rural area of the country.
That dozens of missionaries in Angola died because of poor sanitary conditions, because of simple malaria. That others were thrown in the air because of landmines while visiting their faithful. In the cemetery in Kalulo are the tombs of the first priests who came to the region….none were over 40.
It’s never news to follow the daily life of a “normal” priest, in his difficulties and his joys, giving of himself to the community he serves without any show. The truth is that none of us is looking to make news, only wanting to bring the Good News, this News which began Easter morning without a lot of fanfare. A tree that falls makes a lot more noise than a thousand that are growing. We create a lot more noise about a priest who makes a mistake than over the thousand who give their lives for the poor and neglected.
I do not pretend to defend the Church and priests. A priest is neither a hero nor a neurotic. He is simply a normal man who as a human being tries to follow Jesus and to serve Him in his brothers and sisters. He has weaknesses and failings like any human being; but equally he has beauty and dignity like everyone…. To focus on a painful topic in an obsessive and persecuting manner and to forget the larger picture creates a truly offensive caricature of the Catholic priesthood by which I feel offended.
I ask you only, my journalist friend, to look for the Truth, the Good and the Beautiful. That would do honour to your profession.

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