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I once read an article talking about the public's perspective on the Catholic priesthood. If we remove all the comments by those who actually believe CNN and think that every priest abuses children, there is an interesting common train of thought. A large number of people -- including many in the Church -- believe that priests are effeminate cowards, who are not really good at anything else, and became priests because they believe there is job security. 

Sadly, there are grounds for this perspective. A good number of priests are those very things. Some do not even try to hide it. No, I do not believe that every priest is this way, but there are enough that it has led people to have a common misunderstanding about priests. And this, sadly, prevents people from respecting most priests, and they end up treating them like necessary evils. "You gotta have 'em, because they give us sacraments, but no one really likes them".

If this is a general view that people have about priests, then should we be surprised that young men are not interested in becoming a priest? Should we be surprised that most parents do not encourage their boys to consider the priesthood--after all, who wants their boy to be all those awful things listed above? This is certainly not the only reason why there is a general shortage of young men considering the priesthood; there are many other factors that cannot be ignored (but there is not room in this post to list them). Yet, the presumption about the character of men who become priests has definitely had an impact on parenting.

Let us all realize that although this is true about a large number of priests, it is not because of the priesthood itself. It is not necessarily this way. In fact, if we read what the Church says about the character of a priest, we will realize that this is actually contrary to what it means to be a Catholic priest. And once we actually begin to have the right perspective on the priests of Jesus' Church, then parents will once again encourage their boys to look seriously at the noble and honorable vocation of the priest.


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