I saw this article and was very troubled by it! I’ve always admired priests and bishops…why is this so??
Is the Road to Hell Paved with the Skulls of Priests?
Didn’t Dante reserve the lowest level of Hell for Preists, Bishops and Monks? I’m sure he had his reasons.
Once again, sensational exceptions don’t make the rule.
The very lowest level in Dante was Satan, encased in an ice mountain up to his chest. That level was reserved for those who were treacherous to their masters— Judas, Brutus, Cassius being three who were identified by name. My Dante says that the sin is that of “compound fraud”, where you commit crimes that go against the bonds of love/blood/honor/hospitality.
I think the phrase gets tossed around a lot these days to try and place the evils among the clergy in our time in context–to give us some comfort that we survived it before. Clearly there are also holy clergy even in our days.
The most easily documented of this sentiment is the one from St. John Chrysostom:
I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish…
Here is the homily it is from:
In context, he is trying to explain why no one should seek to be a bishop out of vainglory. Specifically, beginning with the 12th paragraph he says “And now I address no longer every one, but those who aim at preferment.” He first goes on an on about all the different ways being a bishop is a thankless and stressful job. The quote in question comes when he is speaking about all the grave responsibilities of a bishop and how his judgment will be harsher. His sins have a wider affect. He uses Moses as an example:
Remember what Moses endured, what wisdom he displayed, what good deeds he exhibited: but, for committing one sin only, he was bitterly punished; and with good reason; for this fault was attended with injury to the rest.
As Our Lord said, “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required…” (Luke 12:48)
First off, there was a time when episcopal offices were used for personal benefit by wealthy families, so let’s not assume the situation has always been the same in the lifetime of every saint. (Why else would there be a bishop on a chess board? A bishop?!?)
The priests and bishops I know are very aware of the magnitude of the sacred trust placed in them. They don’t assume they have an easier road to heaven than everyone else, but rather a more demanding one.
Pray for our priests and bishops!
I was under the impression that the shape of the piece came first and eventually was called a bishop because the split top shape resembled a miter.
Still, it must be admitted that the idea of a bishop as a secular power broker was rooted in reality, too.
In my search of the history of chessmen, I can’t find anywhere that it is even implied that the bishop of modern chess was ever anything but a bishop or a nobleman. (Prior to being a bishop, in the Persian versions, the piece was an elephant, but did not move the same way.) The bishop and queen came in when the rules changed, making those two pieces far more powerful than their predecessors had been under the older rules.
At any rate, it is clear from history that the office of bishop was too often was used in actions that had far too much to do with secular politics and far too little to do with the salvation of souls.
We can’t know who has or has not been condemned to eternal damnation. There were some bishops in the past whose lives were definitely not anyone’s idea of a saintly one.
It’s because since the time of Judas, there have always been some bad priests and bad bishops.
Those bad ones are burning and their corruption, sin, scandal, etc have lead others to Hell as well.
I hope this helps.
were getting off topic but… as far as i know, in french, the bishop piece is called “fou” meaning something like fool or crazy. Apparently the french thought the piece looked more like a court jester hat than a bishop miter. I’ve read that the shape with the split which eventually came to look more like a miter because the name “bishop” was originally the tusks of an elephant.
There are priests, bishops, and popes in each realm of the Divine Comedy, Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Most clerics are in Dante’s hell for sins of avarice, a widespread sin among the clergy at the time.
The last realm of ice where Judas and Brutus are is the realm of those who betrayed those to whom they owed a bond of love.
Maybe they just had all the respect for political figures who pretend one thing and do another that we do now, lol!!
These are hard times for the Church, but we’ve unfortunately seen worse in centuries past. Good thing there have always been some saintly priests and some saintly bishops, too, in spite of the shepherds who acted more like the infamous hired hand instead of Christ (or, worse yet, acted like the wolves…)
Thanks for the Dante (and chess) lesson. I don’t think I’ve ever read it. Probably just the Cliff notes😂.
I have a very old chess set and the rook is an elephant, not the usual castle tower though it has a small castle on its back. Interesting!
Is Fr. Carotta part of the Traditional Catholic Church? I can’t remember if this is a schismatic off shoot of the Catholic Church like American Catholics and whatnot.
My mistake: Fr Peter Carota was a priest in good standing. God rest his soul. Don’t forget to pray for all our religious, here on Earth and in Purgatory.
First of all, this is a blog, my friend. Be careful how you interpret such things.
You can’t believe everything you read on the internet. There is no written attribution to this quote, and even if there were, saints are allowed to say stupid things and still be saints. More likely, this is a generational case of rumor.
The source of these quotes come, not necessarily from the specific observation of corruption in the priesthood and episcopate, but the severity by which priests and bishops are judged at their deaths due to the ontological change of their souls, the character of the sacrament of Holy Orders, and the gravity of their duty to lead others toward Christ which is found in that sacramental character.
The mystic, St. Catherine Adorno of Genoa, wrote extensively upon the higher standard by which clergy and religious are judged simply through the very nature of their promises and vows. Even outside of this ontological change, the knowledge of God which is gained and experienced through the process of religious and priestly formation lends itself to much less leniency when judging sins as mortal. One of the criteria for mortal sins is full knowledge of the immoral action. It is much harder for the sins of priests and bishops to be considered venial simply because they didn’t know the reality of their actions.
Because of this higher standard of judgment alone, I would suspect that the percentage of priests in hell is larger than the general percentage of the laity in hell.
Br. Ben, CRM
I agree with most of what you say, but I would not be in agreement with your assertion in the third paragraph. I do believe that “to whom much is given, much will be expected.” But I cannot say that God’s justice will be applied so exactly to the consecrated that his Mercy will not be able to match it.
I guess we really ought to be concerned for our own souls firstly, of course. For a Doctor to say that “the road is paved” is more a way of speaking, it seems to me, a bit of a hyperbole among other things.
It could be that such musings are above my pay grade. I"m sure they are, so it’s quite possible you are right! I don’t know.
I like this. Unless we are a priest or bishop, this topic is not relevant.
I’m sure you know this, but just pointing out for anybody who doesn’t that Dante wrote fiction and his ideas of Hell were completely made up.