St. Peter: You are dead and are going to enter into the Judgment room of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, before you stand before the Lord and receive your judgment, I was hoping you would be willing to allow me to ask you a few questions about your ministry as a priest.
Priest: I’m dead? All I remember last night was going to bed; I must have died in my sleep.
St. Peter: That’s right, you died last night in your sleep and are going to stand before the Lord, but as I said, I would like to ask you a few questions first. Several of us here in heaven have often been perplexed by various aspects of your ministry and we thought this might be the only opportunity we will have to ask you these questions.
Priest: I am prepared to answer anything you desire to know.
St. Peter: Good. Do you think your ministry as a priest in the Catholic Church was successful?
Priest: Well, yes, I was faithful to tell my parishioners about the good news of Jesus.
St. Peter: Did you ever tell them about the bad news of hell?
Priest: No. I believed it would only push people away from the Church rather than bring them to Christ, after all, who wants to hear someone preaching about bad news. Besides, we all know that if Hell is even real, we can have a reasonable hope that no one will end up in hell.
St. Peter: That is interesting, since the Lord whom you are going to stand before, in His ministry on earth, often spoke about the reality, possibility and danger of the fire of hell. Did you not realize that people have to understand the bad news of sin and hell first before they can understand the good news of Jesus?
Priest: I didn’t want to come across as mean spirited or a doomsday prophet so I avoided controversial and confrontational topics. As a matter of fact, I had someone come into the confessional once with a great fear that he was going to go to hell for his sins. I assured him that the Church didn’t believe in God being a vengeful God anymore so he had nothing to worry about.
St. Peter: Would you say that a doctor is a good doctor if he does not tell his patients if they have terminal cancer?
Priest: Such a doctor would be a monster.
St. Peter: Then what of a priest who does not tell others about the dangers of sin and hell, after all, bad news concerning the Spirit, is eternal, as opposed to bad news about the body.
Priest: I still think that I was justified in preaching about love instead of justice, sin and hell.
St. Peter: As to whether you were justified in this, I will leave the judgment to the Lord. Let’s move on to another question, how often did you make the Sacrament of Penance available to your parishioners.
Priest: Well, I thought it was sufficient to devote 30 minutes to this once a week on Saturday.
St. Peter: Really, you must have been living around some amazing saints since they required such little time for confession.
Priest: I don’t know, I often wondered why people didn’t want to come to confession more frequently.
St. Peter: Hmmm….I wonder as well. Perhaps because you didn’t tell them about their need for confession, after all, if you always emphasized love and never spoke about sin, why would they think they needed to go to confession? I think we can move on to the next question, something of which I am very curious to know. Did you treat the Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist reverently at all times?
Priest: You mean by having a tabernacle, sure, we had one in the back of the church somewhere. Actually, we moved it to a back room, we didn’t want it out in the open because we thought it might be offensive to Protestants or seem like a medieval superstition left over from the pre-Vatican II days.
St. Peter: I see. Well, not only in regards to the tabernacle, but also in regards to the way the Eucharist was handled during Mass. Were you reverent in the way it was handled, being careful not to allow particles of the precious Lord in the Eucharist to be desecrated by falling onto the floor or worse to be taken away by parishioners?
Priest: I wasn’t very concerned about such matters, my philosophy was that if the Lord can put himself in the Eucharist then he can take himself out, assuming he is really present in the Eucharist anyway. I wasn’t too concerned about patens to protect the Eucharist from falling on the floor or making sure that people don’t walk away with the host since that seemed too authoritarian and legalistic to me.
St. Peter: I am sure the Lord will want to further address this subject with you. For, now I would like to ask another question.
Priest: Go ahead.
St. Peter: What was your outlook on the purpose of the mass? Did you understand it to be the representation of the sacrifice of Christ or was it merely a symbol of His sacrifice?
Priest: I believed at most it was a symbol of his sacrifice. My view was that it was primarily a nice way to show our fellowship with one another as Christians. In other words, it was a nice meal where the family of God gathered around the dinner table of Jesus and expressed their fellowship with one another.
St. Peter: Are you saying that the Eucharist was just a meal of fellowship and wasn’t a true communion with Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity?
Priest: Yes, I didn’t really believe that little wafer was the Lord Jesus Christ, such a belief is derived from medieval superstition and belongs nowhere in modern Church.
St. Peter: So what did Jesus mean when he said: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him” (John 6:54-55).
Priest: If this text is reliable, it is speaking symbolically, not literally.
St. Peter: I see. Does that mean the vast majority of Christians throughout the ages up until the time of the Protestant Revolt were in error about the Eucharist? This is a pretty serious charge, because it would mean the Holy Spirit failed in guiding the Church until certain Protestant sects rejected this teaching.
Priest: Well, I believed that dogma evolves, in a similar way that mankind evolves. For one part of history, a dogma may be one thing but eventually it evolves into another.
St. Peter: I see. So from your view, God can reveal to the Church a dogma that means one thing and later teach that the same dogma means something completely else? Such a God doesn’t sound very reliable if His doctrines are subject to such changes. Such a capricious God may reveal that salvation comes to those who love Him one day and then teach that damnation comes to those that love him the next.
Priest: I don’t agree.
St. Peter: You may not agree but it would seem to follow from your line of reasoning. Before we move on, I am curious to know if you gave the Eucharist to people who were public sinners, those that cause scandal to the faith by their behavior in public.
Priest: I gave them Communion anyway; I wanted to avoid a scene at all cost.
St. Peter: This is very interesting, since the Lord was willing to make a scene when He cleansed the Temple. Were you mindful of the scene and scandal you were causing by giving Communion to public sinners?
Priest: No, I was more concerned about doing what was easiest for me.
St. Peter: I am glad the Lord didn’t have that mentality when he was on the cross. Did you also give communion to the parishioners of yours that were advocating publicly for sins such as abortion and homosexuality?
Priest: Yes, I resolved to treat them like anyone else, as St. Paul said “[t]here is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
St. Peter: Indeed that is what he said, but I don’t think that I what he meant since he elsewhere lists the practice of homosexuality as a damning sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Tell me, why did you not refuse communion to those that publicly advocated sexual sins such as the practice of homosexuality, yet often denied communion to those in your flock who simply desired to receive communion kneeling?
Peter: You mean the Traditionalist Catholics in the parish? Those crypto-Lefebvrians, remnants of a church whose age and ways have long past, I denied communion to them because they weren’t being obedient to the spirit of Vatican II.
St. Peter: You denied them communion because they weren’t being obedient to your ideology of Vatican II, but refused to deny communion to those that were explicitly disobedient to the Church by publicly advocating sexual sins? I wonder if it was not you who were disobedient by giving communion to those obstinately persisting in grave sin, when Canon Law forbade you to do so. Although I suspect it won’t be long before we find out the Lord’s judgment on the matter.
Priest: The Lord will honor me for my actions; I was merciful to those who obstinately persisted in grave sin by giving them communion.
St. Peter: Have you never read St. Paul who wrote: “[t]herefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27). If they were receiving unworthily, wouldn’t denying communion to them have been the merciful thing to do? I perceive by your facial expression that you would have me move onto a different question at this time.
Priest: Please do, I’d like to move on to a different question if you have one.
St. Peter: Did you teach your parishioners that there is no salvation outside of the Church, as it is taught by the Second Vatican Council?
Priest: No, I didn’t want to sound too dogmatic or exclusive. Don’t you know that all religions are valid paths to God anyway?
St. Peter: I suppose Jesus could have spared Himself of a lot of pain when He died on the cross for the sins of others if they could have entered into God’s kingdom through other religions. Surely you read my sermon in the Book of Acts where I declared that there is no other name than Jesus by which mean must be saved (Acts 4:12).
Priest: Don’t you see, St. Peter, we have since evolved and become more tolerant than your culture. Your words were too exclusive and uncharitable. I felt that all paths lead to God and the exclusivism of which you spoke only leads to hate and bigotry.
St. Peter: I am sure the Lord will find that interesting since He also affirmed that no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
Priest: That’s your opinion.
St. Peter: Okay. My next question is if you made yourself available to your flock, in order to give them spiritual direction? Did you visit then on occasion to see if you could help them in any way, bless their homes or pray with them?
Priest: I didn’t give them much direction, since that is what counselors and psychologists are for. Visiting them to see if I could help them in any way? Why, that would require me to dedicate all of the time that I have to the flock, it would require my entire life!
St. Peter: I think there are some martyrs in the next room that would like to talk to you when this conversation is over. Moving on, how did you celebrate liturgy?
Priest: Well, I felt that long and drawn out liturgies were too cumbersome upon the parishioners, not to mention myself, so I adopted the philosophy that the liturgy should be as brief as possible. We should always go with the shorter reading options, shorter Eucharistic canon, omit any options that weren’t required (and sometimes some that were). I was often tired from all of the work that I had to do during the week so Sunday liturgies were as short and as possible. I especially avoided any form of triumphalism, such as elaborate attire, incense, and candles.
St. Peter: I’m sorry you were tired, but I thought liturgy was about worshiping God, not about how you feel and what caters to your own preferences. Incense, candles, elaborate attire, too triumphalistic? As the Book of Revelation notes, we use these in our liturgy here in heaven so you might not fit in here very well. Speaking of which, the Book of Revelation often speaks about demons, did you warn the people of their cunning ways in which they deceive people? Surely, you gave them help as to how to defeat the Evil One in their own lives.
Priest: No, I don’t believe in demons, that was just a superstitious thing that first century Christians invented, no offense St. Peter. They were just personifying evil to make their message easier to understand, or perhaps because they weren’t as educated as contemporary man.
St. Peter: I think you will be persuaded of their reality soon enough. If you did not warn them of the deceitful ways of demons, did you at least warm then of grave sins that you knew they were engaged in, such as contraception?
Priest: No, first, I didn’t want to drive away all of our high paying tithers. Second, I didn’t want to make a scene, and third, the church teaches that it is up to each person’s conscience as to whether they may contracept or not.
St. Peter: Were you aware that the Second Vatican Council taught that the conscience must be subject to the teachings of the Magisterium (Gaudium et Spes, paragraph 50). Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae and even the Catechism of the Catholic Church were clear that contraception is always and under every circumstance a grave sin, this is the teaching of the Magisterium on the matter.
Priest: Well, I didn’t believe the Church was infallible; after all, it is made up of fallible men.
St. Peter: Indeed it is made of fallible men. I was pretty fallible myself, especially when I denied the Lord three times but that doesn’t mean the Lord wasn’t able to inspire two infallible letters in the Bible through me. Did you believe my words, and the words of the rest of Sacred Scripture did not have the Holy Spirit as their primary author?
Priest: No, I did not and I especially don’t believe the Church is infallible in both faith and morals.
St. Peter: I guess Jesus was wrong when He said: “I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). He sure was wrong if hell was able to deceive the Church on matters of faith and morals – oh wait – you don’t really believe in the powers of hell.
Priest: Neither do I believe Jesus said those words, our historical-critical scholars have dissected the Bible and I am confident they have determined this wasn’t really said by Jesus but was merely a later interpolation by Christians.
St. Peter: Well, I suppose the Holy Spirit should have done a better job at preserving His word, He sure seemed to have allowed a lot of false scriptures into the canon which had a great impact on the Church’s teachings and governing structure for several millennia. I guess it is miracle that the Church survived at all given how poorly the Holy Spirit did in preserving the faith.
Priest: Miracle you say? Now you know such things are not real. What people call miracles are merely events that we do not have a current scientific explanation for, not something that really goes against the laws of nature.
St. Peter: So Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead?
Priest: No, you see, the resurrection was just a nice way to speak about Jesus and that his teachings would live on after his death, but he didn’t really rise from the dead in his body.
St. Peter: Do you mean to tell me that I, along with many other eye witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, died for merely a nice sentiment, not for something that was true?
Priest: I am confused, are you saying he really rose from the dead? I won’t believe it unless I see it.
St. Peter: I’ve heard those words before, St. Thomas said that once.
Priest: You mean that part of the Bible is true as well?
St. Peter: It doesn’t appear you took the faith very seriously; tell me, if you didn’t believe in the Catholic faith, why did you remain a Catholic priest?
Priest: I believed it was a great way to do good for people.
St. Peter: So for you, the priesthood was essentially a humanitarian vocation?
Priest: Surely that is really all Jesus is interested in, right? Matthew 25:31-46 shows that he was mainly concerned about feeding the poor, clothing the naked, etc.
St. Peter: It is interesting that you accept the reliability of these verses from Matthew since they also mention people being sent to hell for eternity. You didn’t take His warning very seriously since you didn’t to tell them about the dangers of hell.
Priest: I loved them which is why I didn’t tell them anything that would offend them.
St. Peter: The loving thing to do would have been to have told them the truth. Would it be loving for a father not to warn his children of an impending danger, such as an oncoming lion ready to devour his children?
Priest: No, in this case, it would not be the loving thing to do.
St. Peter: And yet you did not warn them of the roaring lion I wrote about in my first epistle, how then do you say you love your flock?
Priest: I do not wish to argue with you. You may believe what you wish, I, however, am resolved that I was a loving priest.
St. Peter: The Lord will determine such things since He alone can bring to light that which was hidden in the dark and reveal the intentions of the heart. For now, I would like to ask a few more questions if I may.
Priest: You may.
St. Peter: At this point, I would like ask you about the poor that you just mentioned, those that the Lord wishes for us to look after.
Priest: Sure, I’d love to talk about my efforts in aiding the poor.
St. Peter: I am sure you did many great things for them and this is to be applauded, but the poorest of the poor found no assistance from you.
Priest: What do you mean? I went to homeless shelters and helped the poor in many ways, many of them were the poorest of the poor, how then do you say that I did not assist them?
St. Peter: I am referring to the unborn, are they not the poorest of the poor? Millions of unborn without the slightest ability to defend themselves have been murdered while you stood by and said nothing about this holocaust from the pulpit. In fact, you fostered this horror by harboring pro-abortion advocates in your parish without the least bit of resistance. You did not speak against this evil or direct your parishioners to vote against pro-abortion advocates during an election. How do you explain such actions for one who is to uphold the dignity of human life?
Priest: I was concerned about the right of a woman to choose to do whatever she desired to do with her own body.
St. Peter: What about the rights of the unborn, do they not have the right to life?
Priest: I don’t like where this conversation is going and I don’t want to argue with you about my ministry any further. This conversation is over!
St. Peter: I can understand why you would not like to discuss this further. I thank you for your patience and cooperation in answering my questions. The Lord will see you now.