The misdeeds of a few priests who have committed “atrocities” should not overshadow the “great deeds” done by priests and religious of the Catholic Church, two leading African American ministers from St. Louis have said.
Writing in the St. Louis American were Pentecostal Bishop Alphonso Scott of the Lively Stone Church of God and Bishop Jesse Battle of the House of Deliverance Church. They are respectively president and vice-president of the Ecumenical Leadership Council, which represents hundreds of predominantly African American churches in Missouri.
Noting the headlines about sexual misconduct and abuse by Catholic priests, they said those truly convicted of “such atrocities” should at minimum no longer serve in any clerical capacity.
“However, while emotions are rightfully vested in anger, the membership of the Ecumenical Leadership Council would ask the public to remember that the Catholic Church has been a leader in relieving pain and suffering in the world, and in St. Louis,” they continued.
“Their worldwide generosity has all too frequently been the difference between a significant number of the world’s poor going hungry and homeless, and having a warm meal and secure shelter.
“We believe that the misdeeds of a few should not be allowed to cast a shadow on the great deeds done daily by the priests and nuns of the Catholic Church.”
The two Protestant bishops noted that Catholic Charities had raised $82 million last year to help the less fortunate in St. Louis. They reported that the Catholic Archbishop of St. Louis Robert J. Carlson has reached out to bridge racial divides through dialogue with organizations like the Ecumenical Leadership Council.
“We strongly support the healing that obviously must occur in the Catholic Church. We acknowledge the alleged abuses of imperfect priests; however, we also know that imperfection is a human condition to which all humans are susceptible.”
The two clergymen said they look forward to working with Archbishop Carlson and the Catholic clergy of St. Louis to continue their missions of spiritual guidance and leadership for worshipers of their respective faiths.