Now, Religion in the News, a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from the Edinborough Evening News.com, October 8, 2003, with the headline, “Father of All Battles in Priest House Row— A priest hurled abuse at Scotland’s new cardinal during a row over a church-owned house. Archbishop Keith O’Brien invited Father John Robinson to his home in an attempt to get him to give up his house.
“But Father Robinson subjected Archbishop O’Brien, who will be installed as head of the Catholic Church in Scotland in two weeks, to a furious rant before storming out. And later, when a high-powered delegation appeared at his Pennequick home, he hurled a string of four-letter words at them.
“Father Robinson’s ferocious temper led his congregation to compare him to ‘psycho priest, Father Jack,’ from the television comedy show Father Ted.
“The 62-year-old cleric quit Pennequick’s Sacred Heart Church in August after clashes with worshipers. Catholic leaders now want him to quit his four-bedroom home opposite the church. But Father Robinson is refusing to budge until he gets guarantees over his future.”
Tom: Dave, I picked this out because there’s an issue here that I think is worth addressing. First of all…
Dave: It’s not just the Muslims who quarrel with one another.
Tom: (Laughing) Well, it’s a big problem here in…well, I’ll get to it. Here you have a cantankerous priest, okay? He’s maybe a nasty guy—who knows why, but growing up Roman Catholic, you know, I know lots of priests drink, and who knows where his problems lie…
Dave: But Tom, that’s one of the drawbacks of this article. For all I know, this priest may be in the right. Maybe he has good cause to get angry and upset.
Tom: Well, let’s talk about the cause, okay? First of all, what I’m getting at here is a priesthood—where did this come from? You see, if this isn’t biblical, and I know it’s not biblical, but you have problems created when you do things that are not biblical. What do you do with this guy? He has signed his life over to…somebody would say “Christ.” No! To the Church, forever—for as long as he lives, he is a part of the Church. Now what are they going to do with him? We know down through the history of the Catholic Church, there have been problems with priests. You know, it’s not just a modern-day scandal—you can go all the way back. And what do you do with these guys?
And where does this come from?
Dave: Tom, as you know, the reason for celibacy being forced upon the priests—somebody says, “Oh, they don’t enforce it. You don’t have to be a priest if you don’t want to be.” Yeah, but if you want to be a priest, you have to be celibate, so-called. But very few of them are. They either have their homosexual partners or they have their women on the sly. You remember when—what was it? I think it was six women from France went to the Vatican—how many years ago was that? A few years ago? And they said, “We represent thousands of women who have children by priests, and we can’t tell them who their father is. Would you please change this rule?”
Well, the pope wouldn’t see them—they wanted to see the pope, and so forth—and nothing has changed.
One of the reasons is, like for example, this four-bedroom home. If the priest were married, and he had children and heirs, then they inherit this. That was one of the reasons for celibacy. Because the priests and the bishops became very, very wealthy. They lived in mansions—some of them in palaces—during centuries past. And they didn’t want them to pass this church property on to heirs, okay?
Tom: Dave, bottom line here, you know, celibacy, we could point to that—it’s not biblical, and so on. But the underlying problem here is the priesthood—is there a priesthood?
Dave: We are all priests, the Bible says. What is a priest supposed to do? He offers sacrifices to God. Well, you don’t offer those kind of sacrifices. They have been fulfilled—the Old Testament sacrifices have been fulfilled in the death of Christ upon the Cross—the Lamb of God, who offered Himself as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of the world.
Now, the Catholic Church says, “Oh, well, wait a minute now, that’s not enough. But we have a priesthood. They can transform that little wafer into the body and blood of Christ, and we are re-offering, we are perpetuating, the sacrifice of Christ.” So they call it the Sacrifice of the Mass. So this is what the priest can supposedly do.
So now, we have an unbiblical priesthood, as you said, that is offering a sacrifice that the Bible says has already been completed, and they have no right to offer these. Now, the Bible says that every believer is a saint. The Catholic Church also has an unbiblical sainthood. Every Christian is a saint, sanctified—set apart—to live holy lives for God, and we offer spiritual sacrifices, Hebrews 13 says. We offer the praise of our lips and of our hearts to God in remembrance of what Christ has done.
So, as you said, here’s an unbiblical priesthood, and they’ve got unbiblical powers, which the Church has granted to them. They have an unbiblical status as priests, and they’re hard to get rid of, and that’s what this whole problem is about here.
Tom: See, and again, they become, in effect, part of the organization—really, a ward of the Church—and you search the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, and particularly the New Testament, you won’t find this kind of thing. It’s just not there.
Dave: I do have some sympathy with the priest, because what are they going to do? They want him to get out of his house—the house that they gave him. And where is he going to go? Are they going to put him out in the street with his furniture? Of course, why does a priest have a four-bedroom house to begin with? A single man. But anyway, so he wants some guarantees about his future. That’s all the man is negotiating for: “Just tell me, now, what are you going to do with me after you throw me out of the house?” I have some sympathy for him. I don’t have any sympathy for him being a priest and how he has led his flock astray with an unbiblical sacrifice of the Mass, and that’s a tragedy.
Tom: Well, Dave, also, do you have any sympathies for the Church, which has had sympathies for their priests who have gotten involved with pedophilia and all of that stuff—you know, what are they going to do with them? Again, Dave, the bottom line here is, this is a practice that is unbiblical.
Dave: The priesthood.
Tom: The priesthood, unbiblical, and out of that there are always going to be problems.
Dave: Right. It’s a tragedy, Tom. Not only for what this is talking about but for the people who believe and who are in this church thinking, “This is the way to get to heaven.” And it’s not right.