The Better Part of Valour -- or, No one heah but us capons, boss!

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 06, 2004

Remember Father Robert J. Silva, President of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils? He has been in the news frequently since the eruption of the Crisis, arguing that both abuser priests and their superiors have gotten a bad rap, because "The trauma caused by child sexual abuse was not known" back in the days before Oprah. I guess that's why, until quite recently, child molesters were held in such high esteem by society at large. The same Fr. Silva was recently interviewed by the (Chicago) Catholic New World, discussing the changing image of the priest.

TCNW: Do you travel with your collar on?

Silva: I don't anymore. I did one time coming out of New York, and man, I got the daylights scared out of me. There was a guy there who was saying, "There's one of those blankety-blanks," and I thought, "Oh God, I'm going to get beat up." I've never worn my collar when I'm flying again.

But some priests will say, "I'm not going to give in to that kind of stuff. You should be proud of who you are and take the beating." I'm proud of who I am, but I don't know that I want to take the beating. It's like putting a dollar bill on the desk of the teacher and then having the teacher walk out of the classroom. Why tempt?

Why indeed? If St. Isaac Jogues had taken these elementary precautions he'd be playing Les Miz in piano bars today.

What message, then, are the younger readers of the Catholic New World meant to take away from Silva's edifying display of ... discretion? "Young man, give serious thought to the possibility that you too may have a vocation to the priesthood. Consider the spiritual bounty! You forgo a career, relinquish independence, give up marriage and family life, and then -- God willing -- you'll have the chance for a lifetime of wearing lay clothes in public so as to hide from potential unpleasantness."

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 10 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Dec. 10, 2004 11:21 PM ET USA

    With clerical suit & collar or cleric shirt and black slax a more convenient form of vesture when not on the altar, I can see where a cassock is not an absolute form of vesture. As for the breviary, I can't remember the last time I saw one in the hands of our clergy. . .either closed or open, in use! Is the breviary not obligatory any longer? Or, is there just no time in the day to say it any more with all those appointments etc. Wondering - - -

  • Posted by: - Dec. 10, 2004 7:48 AM ET USA

    Once upon a time priests went into the world to convert it. Now they hide under tables to keep from getting beat up. If you believe you are a "good" priest, go to the airport dressed in a cassock with breviary and stole in hand. Smile and be kind. I doubt you will get beat up ... you might just save a soul. And if "they" do try to beat you up, I will gladly wail on "them" for you.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Dec. 10, 2004 1:34 AM ET USA

    Also, I wear the Roman collar & black clerical clothes: in obedience to the Church; to witness to my vocation in Christ as one of His priests; to communicate to people nonverbally that there are young men dedicating themselves to Jesus & His Church; to invite people to talk with a priest, ask questions, ask for the Sacrament of Penance (eg in an airport, w/ pilgrims going to a private, quiet corner to ensure the seal); to fight the Good Fight, to defend the Faith (w/ Catholics & non-Catholics).

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Dec. 10, 2004 1:08 AM ET USA

    As a diocesean priest, I wear a Roman collar & black clerical clothes nearly all the time (except when I fish, bike, hike, or play ice hockey -- & with 3 parishes & a college, I get to do these things rarely). When traveling, I always wear the Roman collar & black clerical clothes. Many young priests wear what the Church wants them to wear, as we witness to our vocation in Christ. Most dioceses collect dues for the NFPC; yet I & other priests refuse. We need to shut down Silva & the NFPC.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Dec. 07, 2004 2:08 PM ET USA

    They will take "their beating" in Purgatory... or worse... JP

  • Posted by: - Dec. 07, 2004 12:27 PM ET USA

    So much for the good Fr. to provide a Catholic the ability to see and maybe talk to a priest, by hiding who he is. What is the number of lost souls who missed an opportunity while flying or waiting to fly to talk to Fr. For me to see a priest not wearing his collar or priestly garb (unless he is trying to fix his car or playing in machinery), is like a married person not wearing their ring. I won't even go into the cowardice aspect listed....

  • Posted by: - Dec. 07, 2004 9:24 AM ET USA

    "Good reasons exist for the individual ( individual?????!!!!????) to choose other garb at his discretion." Really? What good reasons?

  • Posted by: - Dec. 06, 2004 4:23 PM ET USA

    As a longtime priest with little admiration for NFPC positions on gay clergy, for starters, and now Fr. Silva's scaredy-cat aversion to his clerical collar in public, I do wish the expectation that good priests must be in uniform always and everywhere cease being exercised. Good reasons exist for the individual to choose other garb at his discretion. Far, far more important points call for attention in the Catholic New World interview linked in Diogenes' posting.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 06, 2004 2:44 PM ET USA

    Check out the NFPC website and Fr. Silva's letter in their weekly newsletter. A recent Nov. issue has him quoting and thanking the radical feminist dissenter, Sr. Sandra Schneider( known for her sacred sodomy comment). Also in the fall he promoted the Nov. Call To Action conference under upcoming events with a direct ink to the CTA website. Dissenting pro-abort priest Anthony Gittins (identified by no less an expert than ex-priest Dan McQuire) has been a regular seaker at the NFPC annual confab

  • Posted by: - Dec. 06, 2004 11:09 AM ET USA

    I believe that we have a clergy, especially an epicopacy that is largely schizophrenic. They want desperately to be oh so modern and politically correct, and loved and lauded by the media. And they also want to be Catholic (or at least present a public veneer of same). There are no politically correct crosses to bear, only rage to vent.