Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Human Beings & Church Challenges

Father John J. Lombardi

These past weeks we Catholics have had some good news and bad news…The Best News is that Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death, and shows us that, if we persevere, and truly seek Truth and God, present troubles cannot prevent us from triumphing over evil…

The Good News, reviewed below, is that President Bush recently gave a fantastic speech on the immorality of cloning…The Bad News is the current darkness in the sacred priesthood.


On the immorality of human cloning, President Bush questioned the dreaded possible scenarios of "embryo farms" and "designer tissues," adding, "life is a creation not a commodity." (Read that sentence again!) He said that any form of cloning --whether therapeutic (for so-called restorative purposes) or for reproductive ones-threatens women, negatively affects the scientific endeavor, and the denigration of the common good of the human community.

Cloning would be akin to horrific projects of re-creating life in petrie dishes and thru sterile DNA manipulation, while threatening to re-create, artificially, human beings, which only God has given the natural and spiritual plan for. Francis Fukuyama, author of the infamous 1990's book, The End of History, and now at Johns Hopkins University, is warning us about the perils of genetic engineering, human nature-exploitation and runaway Frankenstein projects:

"Human nature is fundamental to our notions of justice, morality and the good life," he said recently in The New York Times, and added that manipulating this nature may impel us "to lose our humanity-that is, some essential quality that has always underpinned our sense of who we are and where we are going."

Along with Pope John Paul and other moral leaders, Mr's. Bush and Fukuyama have given us a wake-up call-that:

  1. all change is not necessarily good;
  2. true bio-medical ethics is desperately needed to "anchor" and "purify" the secular intentions of scientific research;
  3. we should never sacrifice or alter human nature or God's plan for creation when embracing "technology" and "scientific progress".

We must realize God has a plan for us; we must pursue this plan and never upset what God has deemed as "non-negotiable" in life--(human nature, right to life, etc.). As Vatican II (1965) said:

"Often refusing to acknowledge God as his source, man has also upset the relationship which should link him to his last end; and at the same time he has broken the right order that should reign within himself as well as between himself and other men and all creatures." (Vatican II/Gaudium Et Spes, The Church in the Modern World, # 13)

In the prospects of cloning, genetic manipulation and fetal tissue experimentation, aren't we ignoring God, upsetting the "right relationship" we should have with Him and His order, and with one another?…


  • How can I respect and defend human life in all its forms-born, pre-born, sick, dying, the alienated and impoverished?
  • Do I truly know the Church's teaching on human life and why certain things are wrong-male or female sterilization, cloning and tissue experimentation, genetic manipulation (as all these seriously and directly alter God's plan for life)?
  • How do I need to be-as the Pope says-a "sign of contradiction" regarding the defense of human life in our day?…


The Catholic Church has recognized that some of her priests have "upset the relationship" of God and His people thru abuses by priests toward children.

We are now learning more deeply and painfully a couple of lessons: how the Church should justly and swiftly remedy priestly abuse situations and help the victims in their struggles. We are also seeing how far and deep sinful human nature can affect certain persons (none of us is exempt!). Whether pedophilia (abuse of children) or ephoebophilia (abuse toward young men), health care professionals and clergy leaders are learning the dramatic extent of needed therapy for, and traumatic results thru neglect of, these sexual disorders. Hopefully we can all re-learn the profound need for Jesus' healing, saving and protective graces.

As was stated here weeks ago, we need to REPAIR past situations by helping victims of clergy abuse and always protect the children; we also need to RENEW our lives in deeper holiness. This Chaplain has been inspired recently, thru prayer groups, gatherings and conversations, by many dedicated clergy and the support and prayers of the lay faithful: Thank You!…

While each case is a not only a betrayal of priestly vows (as Cardinal Keeler has said) and an unquantifiable harm upon children and the Body of Christ, we know also, as a group of lay Catholics in Colorado wrote recently, that the number of priestly abuse cases is significantly a small portion of all priests. As one Indian priest said to me at the Grotto, does this warrant the current negativist media saturation, when there is so much good from all the other priests?

While this is so, sadly so, many commentators-friends of the Faith --observe in this current darkness, the Catholic Church has been adversely affected these past decades by some questionable phenomenon, including loss of absolutes and commandments in morality; the denigration of personal responsibility and individual accountability; a naivete regarding the effects of sin (venial and mortal sin)- and thus the de-emphasis of confession; the rejection of training the body, soul and errant passions (asceticism) in subjection to the Spirit; the embrace, by some, of excessive self-esteem and personal-fulfillment lifestyles, including homosexuality--either implicitly or explicitly; the need of clergy to guard, as the Pope has stated, their celibacy and vocations, and the attack on human and spiritual fatherhood: All these, in one way or another, have subsequently affected our Church.

Dazvid Blankenhorn, in a crucial, excellent and important book, entitled, The Loss of Fatherhood, said this very title appropriately describes the most important issue of our times, and that an attack on fathers today has affected us all (we may now surmise, priests included), and that fathers are not being inspired or compelled to be what God has designed them to be-dads, servant leaders, strong and loving men.

We need, in our times. Compassion: always speaking the truth of Church teaching-- and needed remedies--in love (Eph.4:15). Conversion: to repair the situations and structures which have been harmful --to children and all of us--in the past. With the Spirit's help we can realize and grow through this painful occasion, by: 1)re-acknowledging the wisdom of Church teachings on morality, priesthood and sexuality--however difficult and challenging they are--and realize how liberating they are to all who attempt, and re-attempt, at embracing them; 2 that we should always be loyal to our Church, Christ's Bride. We may disagree on some aspects of these problems, but we must never be disloyal, dissenting, or distasteful 3) To all we must give a more clear, compassionate and challenging witness to the world that the Lord Jesus truly does live in our hearts and changes us.

Like pulling out the spiritual map after getting lost, we need to re-gauge our moral and mystical compasses and shift more deeply into the Truth of Jesus Christ which will set us free…As a document from the Archdiocese has stated regarding priestly vocations: "…the Church must continue to lift up the good work that the Good Shepherds are doing and invite others into that goodness and that grace…"…


  • How can I support the priesthood more in my parish or locality?
  • Have I been praying for my priests regularly?
  • How can I help the Church members-including clergy-persevere in this current situation?
  • How can I defend and love my own vocation as a result of this?…

Prayer for Priests: "Sacred Heart of Jesus, hear my humble prayer on behalf of Your priests/ I pray for Your faithful and fervent priests/ For Your unfaithful and tempted priests/ For Your priests who labor at home and abroad/ For Your young priests/ For Your dying priests/ And for the souls of Your priests in Purgatory…Merciful Heart of Jesus, remembering that they are but weak and frail human beings/ Give them a deep faith, a bright and firm hope, and a burning love./ I ask that/ In their loneliness, You comfort them/ In their sorrow, You strengthen them/ In their frustrations, You show them that it is through suffering that the soul is purified…/ Loving Heart of Jesus, keep them close to Your Sacred Heart and bless them abundantly, in time and in eternity: Amen."

PRIESTHOOD: "This weekend is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. This is obviously not an easy time to recruit young men with all the media attention given to the darker moments of ministry…It is the work of all Catholics to encourage young men to be priests." From the Archdiocese of Baltimore--Please consider this call-and call--Fr Gerry Franzik @ 410- 547-5431 Director of Vocations for more information.

THE RESURRECTION BODY-We continue meditations on scholastic teaching on four attributes of our Lord's Risen Body-and our own, we hope! (Read Phil 3:21-"He will make our own bodies like His own in glory"). From. L. Otto, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Tan: 1954) "Agility: is the capability of the body to obey the soul with the greatest ease and speed of movement. It forms a contrast to the heaviness of the earthly body, which is conditioned by the law of gravity. This agility was manifested by the risen Christ, which was suddenly present in the midst of His Apostles, and which disappeared just as quickly (Jn 20:19; Lk 24:31). The intrinsic reason of agility is the perfect dominion over the body of the transfigured soul, to the extent that it moves the body

Quote of the Week St. Bernadette, our Patroness: "The holy Virgin chose me because I was the most ignorant of creatures…I acme to the convent to hide myself…The Blessed Mother is so beautiful that, when one has once laid eyes upon her, one would joyfully die in order to see her again."

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi