We are all sinners, Catholic Church is no exception

Columnist Mark Nuehring says there is more to the church than just one issue.

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One night recently, my daughter shared a very interesting conversation she had in one of her classes.

They were talking about the role of religion in society and one young man asked my daughter what religion she was. After she said “Roman Catholic” he said, “Isn’t that the church that hurts children.”

That was a difficult sentence to hear because that young man quickly identified the church by its most sinful issue, but there is more to the church than just that one issue.

I wish I could talk with that class about the Roman Catholic Church. I would listen empathically to their questions and try to answer them as compassionately as possible. I would first acknowledge that there are some priests who did some very bad things with children and there is no other way to explain that.

I would describe these men as sick and emphasize how we handle other people who are sick — we get them help.


It is easy to be judgmental of others when see their imperfections, it is a lot harder to look at our own imperfections and work on them with the same intensity. It is easy to say that priests should be held to a higher standard, yet I would say that anyone who is in a leadership role, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo or President Bill Clinton, should know better, too. No human being is perfect.

I wish I could share with the class some stories of the good priests I know personally and the amazing ministry they are doing for their communities. I know all of the priests in Rochester, personally, and they are all tremendous men of God. They are compassionate, kind, caring and deeply devoted to their ministry.

I wish I could share with this class the tremendous good the Catholic Church does in this community. Each of the parishes in town support a St. Vincent DePaul Society which helps care for people who are struggling to make ends meet.

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The six Catholic churches in town help to support Catholic Charities. This social outreach ministry run the Warming Center that houses homeless members of our community and they provide counseling and adoption support services, to name just a few.

Each of the six Catholic churches support the Rochester Catholic School system. More than 1,300 students receive a high quality Catholic education at a reduced rate because each of the parishes contributes to their overall success. If you have not visited one of these schools, I would encourage you to do so.

I wish I could share with this class that I have worked for the Catholic Church for more than 25 years and have never considered leaving because I am a sinner just like all these priests who committed these horrible actions toward minors.

The Roman Catholic Church needs more people to stand up for its mission. I hope somehow this class gets this message.
Mark Nuehring is director of faith formation at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. "From the Pulpit" features reflections from area religious leaders.

From the Pulpit" features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, email us at with "From the Pulpit" in the subject line.

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