Best Response to Priestly Scandals: Pray for Faithful Priests - Like Fr. Paul Schenck
On Pentecost weekend I had the privilege of serving as a deacon at the altar alongside of Fr. Paul Chaim Schenck
We need to hear the good news! There are priests who are faithfully serving the Church and her mission. Priests like Fr. Paul Chaim Schenck. They are humble, properly submitted to the authority of the Church and bearing tremendous fruit.
To anyone in the Pro-Life movement for any length of time Paul Schenck is an iconic figure. The image which adorned the cover of Life magazine of a younger Reverend Paul Schenck while still a Protestant minister is a part of the pictorial history of the Pro-Life movement.
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - Like many Catholics I have been deeply saddened by the unfolding saga concerning priest/television personality Fr. John Corapi. As the Editor of Catholic Online, I knew this was a news story we had to cover - and we did. However, we avoided entering into the continuing flurry of controversy concerning this tragic case.
On the positive side, it has prompted me to spend time every morning thanking the Lord for the wonderful priests I have had the privilege of knowing and serving alongside of. It also led me to a renewed commitment to prayer on behalf of all priests. Finally, it has prompted my decision to spend time writing about priests who are demonstrating sacrificial love for the Lord and His Holy Church, fidelity, humility and holiness of life.
On Pentecost weekend I had the privilege of serving as a deacon at the altar alongside of one such priest, Fr. Paul Chaim Schenck.
Fr. Schenck celebrated all of the weekend Masses in our growing parish in Southeastern Virginia when our pastor was out of town. He also heard confessions. He spoke at a breakfast sponsored by our Knights of Columbus chapter, sharing his extraordinary journey in a talk entitled "From Protestant Pastor to Catholic Priest: A Pro-Life Journey". That weekend was the first anniversary of his ordination to the Catholic Priesthood and it was eminently clear that the Lord had called him to this beautiful vocation.
As a deacon of the Church it was deeply moving to witness the beauty with which this Priest of Christ offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and ministered to Christ's faithful at the altar and the ambo. I literally wept as I knelt next to him at the elevation. It was a moving experience for many reasons, including the fact that I have known him for decades and was overjoyed that his journey into the Church brought him to the altar as a Catholic priest.
My history with Fr. Paul Schenck spans decades. I first met his brother Rob who introduced me to Paul. Both shared an untiring dedication to bringing an end to the killing of our youngest neighbors in the womb by abortion. They also shared an interesting faith journey. They were raised in a Jewish home, came to faith in the Lord Jesus as teenagers and went on to become Protestant ministers.
The two brothers were Pro-Life leaders in the Buffalo, New York. I went to Law School to help overturn Roe v Wade. So, later when I was asked by them to come to Buffalo years later to speak on behalf of Paul who had been wrongfully arrested for peacefully distributing Pro-Life literature, I agreed. At the time I was a Dean at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and engaged in a limited Pro-Life law practice.
In 1991 I moved to Virginia Beach to help build the American Center for Law and Justice. (ACLJ) Those were days of what I call "trench ecumenism" and the greatest example was the Pro-Life movement. This kind of cooperation is accepted now. Back then, it was highly controversial in both Catholic and Protestant circles. As I think back I am reminded of the country song, "I was Country when Country wasn't Cool". We were doing Catholic/Evangelical cooperation long before it was "cool".
The first legal case I took as Executive Director of the ACLJ involved Rev. Paul Scheck. He had been wrongfully arrested for distributing Pro-Life literature in front of an abortion facility. Back then there were "floating buffer Zones" which prevented Pro-Life Speech. I argued they violated the First Amendment. We lost at the Federal District Court level but the case continued on appeal. Years later I served as co-counsel when Jay Sekulow successfully argued the case at the US Supreme Court. It was styled "Rev. Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network".
Paul's courageous efforts for the children and Jay's skillful argument that Pro-Life speech is indeed protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, won the day. Paul was completely vindicated and earned a place in the legal history of the great human rights movement of our age. His courage has clearly informed his life's vocation now as he serves as a courageous, faithful and fruitful Catholic Priest and continues to help build a new culture of life.
During those 'ACLJ years' my friendship with Paul - and his journey toward the Catholic Church - passed through a series of events. I was deeply impressed with his leadership gifts and abilities. I was also appalled that his valiant efforts to stop the killing of our first neighbors brought him to house arrest. So, I hired him as the Vice President of the American Center for Law and Justice while he was still wearing a court ordered ankle monitor. He was a hero to me then, and he still is.
Paul and his family moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Along with the growth of the ACLJ, our friendship grew. We shared a deep ...
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