Scott Caton will be ordained a Catholic priest for the diocese of Rochester, New York, next month. In this age of declining vocations, that sounds like great news. But this former Protestant minister, husband, and father of six has experienced some resistance.
At his ordination to the diaconate, Baptist protesters marched outside Sacred Heart Cathedral and denounced Caton as a heretic— via bullhorns that could be heard inside the sanctuary. And even within the Church, people are angry. Why should this man who has been separated from the Church for most of his life have privileges denied to lifelong faithful Catholics?
This controversy reminds me of another unfair tale—that of the Prodigal Son. Are the cradle Catholics among us acting out the role of the older brother in that parable? You know, the one who protested, “I have been with you all these years and I am ignored. Your younger son comes home from years astray and you offer a lavish feast in his honor.” Yes, that sounds like us.
Usually when we hear the story of the Prodigal Son, we see ourselves in the repentant younger son, coming home in sorrow and shame. The story reminds us of God’s extravagant love for us. But we feel very differently when we cast ourselves in the role of the older, righteous brother.
I didn’t like the way that role felt on me—self-righteousness is more prickly than a hair shirt. Upon reflection, I know that there is only one right response for me:
“Dear Father Scott: Welcome home, brother!”
What do you think? Are converts like Scott an answer to our prayers for vocations? Or does the Church seem to be bending its own rules a bit too far?
Photo courtesy of photoholic, freedigitalphotos.net.