Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In light of Father Cutié and Reverend Moya: Can you trust the clergy?

In light of the scandal with Rev. Tommy Moya and Father Alberto Cutié, some feel betrayed by the clergy and some feel that they can’t trust us anymore. In case you have not heard, let me bring you up-to-date on Rev. Moya and Father Cutié. Both are well known clergy. The former is a Christian from a non-Roman Catholic denomination and the latter, a Roman Catholic Christian. Rev. Moya admitted to an extra-marital relationship and Father Cutié to a pre-marital relationship while holding a vow of celibacy. There has been a wide range of reactions and opinions concerning both of these men. I would like to focus on the issue of “trust”. There are people who feel backstabbed by those of us who preach the Gospel. Part of my job, being a Reverend myself, is to hear others express what is in their heart, which includes: complaints, frustrations and opinions. A few of the complaints I have heard are: “they preached one thing and acted differently,” “they asked us to obey God while they were disobeying,” and, “I always believed all clergy are hypocrites.”

The question is: Can you trust the clergy? Before I answer, I want you to know that I don’t work as a public relations representative for either of these men or their respective organizations and, I am not justifying what my fellow clergy did. The answer is: YES, you can have “imperfect trust” in us. I heard someone say: “the problem with live heroes is that they are alive”. While alive any hero can become a foe. We have seen “sinful acts” in every realm of life: in politics, in business, in the police force, in the medical world, in our work place, in our family and, in ourselves. We have seen those we trust blow it.
But most of us have not lost trust in any of those realms, including ourselves. Clergy are part of humanity; we have the same “virus” the Bible calls “sin”. The Bible says: “Everyone has sinned” (Romans 3:23) and “sin” has consequences. When the clergy is caught sinning there are consequences. In some cases our justice system needs to act, for example: in cases of child abuse and theft. But in other cases, the consequences may be: loosing a job, ministry, reputation, family and more.

Honestly, it seems to me that when a clergy is caught in a sin, all the good things he or she has done to serve people, the community and God, are quickly forgotten. No one speaks about the wise words Mr. Clergy or Ms. Clergy shared with “James”, when he needed guidance. Who mentions the late visit to “Grandma Mary” when she was sick? Does anyone mention their work to help the poor and the powerless? It suddenly seems that to have trusted a “fallen clergy” is almost a sin in itself! The whole Christian community honors the Apostle Peter. When no one was willing to walk on water, Peter stepped out and walked. When Jesus mentioned his death, Peter was the first to express his willingness to die defending Jesus. But Peter had our “virus”, he betrayed Jesus. Thank God Jesus forgave him, encouraged him to overcome his failures and, continue with the calling given him. Jesus trusted in Peter again!

I believe we should model this attitude, clergy like Rev. Moya and Father Cutié have demonstrated a track record of service, commitment to God and people and, they deserve our trust. Let’s go back to the term I previously used, “imperfect trust”. This is the kind of trust that says: “you have demonstrated a good track record and have been a wise servant, I trust you; but I know you are not perfect”. It is imperfect because we are all imperfect. Only God deserves perfect trust. He will never lie, let us down, or act contradictorily to His character and word. All of us should strive to be the best we can be and manage our sinful nature the best we can, with God’s help. May God continue to bless Rev. Moya and Father Cutié and, may one day, all those who feel betrayed by them, trust them again.

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