Thursday - May 23, 2019

Letter from Catholic priest to the New York Times


Dear brother and sister journalist:

I am a simple Catholic priest. I am happy and proud of my vocation. I have lived in Angola for 20 years as a missionary.

I see in many media, especially in your newspaper, the broadening of the subject in a morbid way, investigating in detail the life of a pedophile priest. This is how one of a city in the USA, from the 70s, another one in Australia in the 80s and that is how it looks, other recent cases … Certainly all condemnable! Some journalistic presentations are weighted and balanced, others amplified, full of preconceptions and even hatred.

It gives me great pain because of the profound evil that people, which should be signs of God’s love, be a dagger in the lives of innocents. There is no word that justifies such acts. There is no doubt that the Church can not be, but on the side of the weak, of the most defenseless. Therefore all measures taken for the protection, prevention of the dignity of children will always be an absolute priority.

But it is curious the little news and disinterest by thousands and thousands of priests who are consumed by millions of children, by adolescents and the most disadvantaged in the four corners of the world! I think that your information medium is not interested in the fact that I had to transport many undernourished children from Cangumbe to Lwena (Angola) by road in 2002, because neither the government was available nor the NGOs were authorized; that he had to bury dozens of small deaths among those displaced from war and those who have returned; that we have saved the lives of thousands of people in Mexico through the only medical post in 90,000 km2, as well as with the distribution of food and seeds. That we have given the opportunity of education in these 10 years and schools to more than 110,000 children…

It is not of interest that with other priests we have had to help the humanitarian crisis of about 15,000 people in the barracks of the guerrillas, after their surrender, because the food did not arrive from the Government and the UN.

It is not news that a priest of 75 years, Fr. Roberto, at night toured the city of Luanda curing the street children, taking them to a shelter, to detoxify gasoline, to alphabetize hundreds of prisoners that other priests, like P. Stefano, have houses of passage for the boys who are beaten, mistreated and even violated and seek refuge.

Nor that Fray Maiato with his 80 years, pass house by house comforting the sick and desperate.

It is not news that more than 60,000 of the 400,000 priests and religious have left their land and family to serve their brothers in a leper colony, in hospitals, refugee camps, orphanages for children accused of sorcerers or orphans of parents who died with AIDS, in schools for the poorest, in vocational training centers, in centers for attention to HIV-positive people … or above all, in parishes and missions, motivating people to live and love.

It is not news that my friend, Fr. Marcos Aurelio, to save some young people during the war in Angola, transported them from Kalulo to Dondo and returning to his mission was machine-gunned on the way; that Brother Francisco, with five catechist ladies, for going to help the remotest rural areas have died in an accident on the street; that dozens of missionaries in Angola have died for lack of sanitary help, for simple malaria; that others have jumped through the air, because of a mine, visiting their people. In the cemetery of Kalulo there are the tombs of the first priests who came to the region … None of them spend 40 years.

It is not news to accompany the life of a “normal” priest in his day to day, in his difficulties and joys, quietly consuming his life in favor of the community he serves.

The truth is that we do not try to be news, but simply to bring the Good News, that news that began without noise on Easter night. A falling tree makes more noise than a forest that grows.
I do not intend to make an apology for the Church and the priests. The priest is neither a hero nor a neurotic. He is a simple man, who with his humanity seeks to follow Jesus and serve his brothers. There are miseries, poverty and frailties as in every human being; and also beauty and goodness as in every creature…

Insisting in an obsessed and persecutory way on a subject losing the overall vision creates truly offensive cartoons of the Catholic priesthood in which I feel offended.

Journalist, look for the Truth, the Good and the Beauty. That will make him noble in his profession.

I only ask you friend

In Christ,

Father Martín Lasarte, sdb

“My past Lord, I entrust it to your Mercy, My present to your Love, My future to your Providence”