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After suffering the anguish of the abuse among their ranks, priests across our nation are battling feelings of profound defeat.

By Tim Busch, Opinion contributor, USA Today, Feb. 15, 2020

Tim Busch is the founder of the Napa Institute, a Catholic lay organization. 

There’s a crisis in the Roman Catholic Church no one’s talking about. It’s not abuse. It’s not cover-ups. It doesn’t spring from Vatican infighting. It starts much closer to home, with the shepherds who guide the flock. Many good and godly Catholic priests are struggling with their vocation.

I realized this in January after hosting a conference for nearly 200 American priests. At a similar event in 2019, I could tell that morale was low. It hadn’t been that long since the summer of shame, when the Pennsylvania grand jury report peeled back the curtain on terrible abuse, mostly during the 20th century, and former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was removed from ministry for abusing children and seminary students.

It was a low point for every Catholic, including — or perhaps, especially — priests. I assumed that the mood would improve over the year. It got worse.

Nearly every priest I spoke with in January admitted it’s a tough time. Father John Riccardo, a Midwestern priest whose job includes encouraging his peers, told me, “It’s never been this bad.” ….

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