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Science, Prescience, and the Care of Souls

By Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J. (articles ) | Apr 26, 2003

A recent Washington Post story tells of an earlier bishop of Manchester, New Hampshire, who not only expelled an abuser priest but wrote several letters to his fellow bishops advising them not to give the offender another crack at the flock. The Post's interest is primarily in the supposed prescience of Bishop Matthew Brady: in the late 1950s he acted in a way that anticipated the bishops' 2002 Charter -- policies which the bishops would have us see as the result of cutting-edge scientific findings. Brady was following the advice he solicited from Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paraclete, who wrote Brady in 1957, "We are amazed to find how often a man who would be behind bars if he were not a priest is entrusted with the [care of souls]." Fitzgerald also discounted the theatrics of remorse: "from our long experience with characters of this type ... their repentance and amendment is superficial. A new diocese means only green pastures." My own eye was caught by an "unprofessional" remark in the letter of advice to Brady. Fr. Fitzgerald said, "I have my own soul to save." Fitzgerald understood, and obviously succeeded in making Brady understand, that the salvation of souls was at stake, that they would both have to answer to God for their decisions in this matter. In any of the USCCB's deliberations on the subject, has one syllable been spoken about the possibility of damnation?

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