When a grand jury reports that 300 Catholic priests have been at least credibly accused of sexual abuse in one state alone, albeit over the course of 70 years, it leaves a certain impression on the public. Every priest is suspect.

So it might not be surprising that priests showing up in public, even if they are innocent of such charges, would be taking some heat. One priest, Fr. Michael Sliney, wrote on his Facebook page August 21, a week after the Pennsylvania grand jury issued that report, “Putting on my collar … especially now. Its presence on the street … is raising eyebrows.” 

Another priest, Fr. Basil Hutsko, didn’t even have to go outside: a man came into the sacristy and began beating him up, saying “This is for all the kids,” The attack sent the Merrillville, Illinois, priest to hospital.

It’s understandable that some clergymen might be reluctant to appear in public wearing clerical garb.

That was the thought in Fr. Jonathan Slavinskas’s mind one day when he was heading out in Worcester, Massachusetts.

“This week I have been walking around with a heavy heart. I have been completely angry and frustrated as a result of the Pennsylvania abuse reports and the [Archbishop Theodore] McCarrick situation. My continual prayer has been for the victims. As each news story continues, my heart is torn more apart.”

 He pondered what his Roman collar, that distinctive white band that Catholic priests wear around their necks, would now represent to the world.

“As I walked around, I wonder how many people who glance at my collar will wonder, ‘Is this one too?’”

Read more at Aleteia.