Yes, we have seen and continue to see scandalous behavior from the clergy, be they deacons, priests or bishops. No excuse. The faithful deserve nothing less than pure, unadulterated, sound and orthodox doctrine that conforms to the Magisterium. They deserve nothing less than licit, valid and reverent celebration of the sacred mysteries of faith we call the Sacraments. They also deserve competent, unbiased, and compassionate leadership that puts the common good before anything else and is not afraid to correct, discipline or defend.
It is easy today to recognize and identify the warts and blemishes on the clergy because we have been so careless and casual in how we obtained them. While there has always been sin and failure in ordained ministry, the same can be said for marriage and religious life. Every vocation and career has seen its examples of rotten apples. Who can say they have never heard of a bad doctor, bad cop, bad soldier, bad coach, bad teacher or bad parent? They exist and so do bad priests. As Christians, we are challenged to hate the sin and love the sinner. We must repudiate and denounce bad behavior and even punish it while at the same time pray for and seek repentance. Jesus said he came not to cure the healthy but to cure the sick; not to help the righteous but to help sinners. He never condoned nor excused any sin and neither should we. At the same time, we are asked by our holy religion to pray for the conversion of sinners. To ask for God's grace that those who misbehave would STOP. That they would REPENT. Is there not more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner? Imagine how much joy over one repentant bad priest or bishop? Purgatory and jurisprudence exist to ensure justice and punish the guilty while protecting the innocent. Divine Justice cannot be thwarted and will be achieved in this life or the next. Divine Mercy is as necessary and important as Divine Justice.
That is why during this YEAR FOR PRIESTS we need to pray for more good priests. Pray for those men in the seminaries that they persevere and become good priests when ordained. Pray that bad seminaries get better or close. Pray that mediocre or bad priests have a change of heart, a conversion, a metanoia (they love that word) and return to orthodoxy and reverent worship. BAD TEACHING + BAD LITURGY = BAD BEHAVIOR. In other words, heretical doctrine combined with liturgical abuse will inevitably produce and sustain bad morality and vice versa. We therefore need to pray and do mortification during this YFP to save the souls of all priests (deacons and bishops, too).
Since Jesus Christ instituted Holy Orders on Holy Thursday, how about we all make an effort to make a holy hour for priests, especially the lonely, discouraged, persecuted, maligned, ostracized priests whose only crime is that they are loyal to the Holy Father and the Magisterium? Theses are the fellows who usually are not made Monsignors or Knights of Malta (Holy Cross, Jerusalem, et al.) nor are they typically advisers to the bishop. They are the ordinary parish priests or the hospital chaplains or the seminary or college professors who do their best to be a better priest day by day, year by year.
We need to pray for the ambitious, lazy, workaholic, political, worldly or naive priests that the grace of Holy Orders wake them up and make a concerted effort to clean up their act and remember why they got ordained in the first place. Remember how the nuns (when you knew they were nuns because of the habit they wore) used to tell us in Catholic grade school, 'pray for the conversion of Russia.' The USSR fell and Communism was defeated, thanks to Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan and the multitude of prayers offered all during the Cold War.
In addition to or in place of a Holy Hour for Priests, how about a voluntary abstinence of meat or a voluntary fast on Thursdays (only one full meal and two smaller collations)? How about a rosary for deceased priests on Thursdays? Just a few suggestions.
Doesn't mean we won't be watching and alerting you about the weird and bizarre when it comes to clerical nonsense. Even Peter had to be rebuked on one occasion by Our Lord but He never rescinded the authority He gave him, either. Of the twelve, only one stayed at the foot of the Cross while one denied Him, one betrayed Him, one doubted Him and the rest abandoned Him. All could have been forgiven yet one obstinately refused. It was Jesus prayer for them in the Garden before His Passion that ultimately came to fruition after the Resurrection.
So let's pray in thanksgiving for the good priests of the past who inspired and encouraged us; for the good priests of today who nourish, teach and care for us; and for the good priests of tomorrow, those in the pipeline at the seminary, so they may persevere in their vocation and that they never lose hope.
We ought to pray, though, for the bad priests that they stop being bad. That they repent and recant. That they renew their original promise and vow to be a holy priest of Jesus Christ in loving service to Holy Mother Church.
It's worth a try.