What Is A Canceled Priest?

This is the question I get asked the most by Catholics unfamiliar with cancel culture. To be honest, I find it surprising amidst the rash of cancelation in various forms that there is still so much confusion – especially after so many bishops closed churches due to Covid and made it seem as if the source and summit of our faith was not essential. While traditional Catholics are typically familiar with being pushed to the wayside both in society and by the hierarchy of the Church, many of the faithful attending the Novus Ordo Missae are just realizing the gravity of the problem faced by orthodox Catholic priests. So how do we help our fellow faithful Catholics understand what’s happening and what they can do about it? This article offers some critical context and explains what the Coalition for Canceled Priests (CFCP) is doing in response.

Fitting the definition of a canceled priest into a thirty second soundbite or a short paragraph is not easy. In fact, there are many terms and phrases used, such as “sidelined,” “white martyrdom,” and “sent to the farm.” When a group of devout Catholics came together to form the Coalition this past Spring, it was decided that “canceled” is the best way to describe what is happening since the term is so pervasive and generally recognized. The Church is increasingly divided between those who seek to accommodate modern society by adapting to it, and those who stand true to the faith and seek to convert the world. Modernist bishops seeking “unity” with the ever-evolving trends have quietly been removing priests who do not seek to accommodate, but rather to continue the traditional mission of the Church of bringing about the reign of Christ our King.

First, let’s be clear what a canceled priest is not: he is not a priest who’s committed a serious crime or canonical delict. There have been priests guilty of serious crimes and rightly removed, but they do not fall into the category of “canceled” as their removal was due to offenses they actually committed, not due to countering sinful society. It must be noted that guilty or not guilty, priests like everyone else deserve due process of law (both civil and canonical). They have a right to a defense, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and support in the way of housing and sustenance, from the diocese or religious order in which they are incardinated.

Each canceled priest has a unique story, though there are certain patterns and similarities which seem to arise. Canceled priests are those who are being targeted by superiors and who are not afraid to stand up for the Faith no matter how “counter-cultural” it might be. He exudes reverence during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and may celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass or simply be favorable toward it even if he does not know Latin. He loves hearing confessions and pastoral work, in general. He wants to improve his own education and grow in his vocation, realizing that his seminary formation and education was deficient.

Above all, a canceled priest wants to help others get to Heaven, and the cura animarum sustains him and gives him strength to carry on. One of the biggest problems in the clergy today is careerism. Many good men fall victim to the “go along to get along” mentality. Being “pastoral” is no longer seen by many bishops as self-sacrifice for the well-being of souls, but rather, not rocking the boat. So often seminarians and young priests are told that the best priest is one with the fewest complaints, does the most social outreach, and focuses on culture concerns of today such as environmental work and social action. Meanwhile, the priest who focuses most on the Church’s spiritual mission, and thus on the Sacraments, is running counter to our materialist culture and the chanceries that have succumbed to it.

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