"When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die" –Ezekiel 18:26-28 from yesterday's First Reading.
Yesterday, I listened to Visitation's new young priest, Fr. Matt, preach about Sunday's readings, fearlessly tying in a powerful personal teaching about the Eucharist. Yet, as hopeful as this homily was, part of me couldn't help thinking about the similar sermons of our former new priest, now gone bad ...
Sadly, ex-Viz associate and former Father is back in the news, as Mr. Christopher Floss (and of course the Joliet Diocese) is being sued by the ex-husband of Floss' current wife (or is it mistress?) for upwards of half a million dollars. The 13-count indictment (with each charge carrying a $50,000 price tag) seems at the same time both excessive and tiny; a lot of money for legalisms (and lawyers) but never, never enough to cover up the real source of the pain.
Honestly I have no idea how the legal battle will play out, and part of me does not care. Some have suggested that "the woman was to blame," and perhaps Mr. Floss, in our crazy no-fault divorce state, could use seduction as some sort of legal defense. Or these are "two consenting adults, not a man having an affair with a minor," a well-heeled lawyer could argue. But even if Floss and his live-in's actions can be justified legally, they cannot be defended morally. Floss had a vocation to the sacramental priesthood, a responsibility to feed his flock with the Body and Blood of Christ, and the former Ms. Crane had a vocation to become one with her husband, and to raise the fruit of this communion together. By Floss forsaking his Eucharistic duty, and his live-in abandoning her children for this new pseudo-union, they not only prove they have been duped by the devil, but mistakenly think they can outwit God.
So to answer the question, as to whether Floss (and his former employer) has finally lost his shirt, I guess only time will tell. But as for the far more important inquiry, as to whether Floss has lost his soul (not to mention contributing to the loss of the souls of many of those once entrusted to him), there can be no doubt. The priestly voice that once inspired many from this pulpit is silent now, speaking only those politically-correct words his lawyer allows. As for us, we can only pray Chris returns to God as the example in Ezekiel did, giving his "lover" back to her husband and returning to the Church, not as a preaching priest, but as a silent cloistered monk, perpetually praying that others not make the same mistake that they did. And, as the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time turns into the Feast of the Archangels, let us together pray the prayer still recited at the conclusion of Visitation's daily Masses, "St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil ..."