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The place of the priesthood

This criticism is nothing new

Garry Wills’s analysis of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is unrevealing (“Celibacy isn’t the problem; the priesthood is,” Opinion, Jan. 4).

Rather than offer an original insight, Wills recycles a historically Protestant, rejectionist view of Catholic ecclesiology, leavened with a bit of modernist skepticism. The assertion that chronic sexual abuse is intrinsic to the priesthood and Catholic religious life is at least two centuries old. We have heard it all before.

Wills’s claim, based on his neo-Protestant interpretation of the word “presbyter,” that the priesthood does not appear in the New Testament is another example of Reformation revisionism. The overwhelming witness of the Church fathers, with their repeated references to authority, offerings, ordinations, altars, and mysteries, indicates that they understood presbyters to be sacrificing priests.


C. J. Doyle

Executive director

Catholic Action League of Massachusetts


Ordained priests are the means of sanctification

Catholic bashing never stops in the Globe. Why give such prominence to these views from Garry Wills? For any who wish to see the basis of Jesus Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist, read the Gospel of John, chapter 6. As for the priesthood, Christ called Peter the rock on which he would establish his church, hence the beginning of the priesthood. Read the church fathers, and as for Augustine, see his Sermon 227, where he says, “That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ.” That sanctification comes through the ordained priest acting in the stead of Christ.

Carol Walsh