At the recent vocations panel I attended at Hearts Aflame a question was put to the panel of priests and religious as to how they handle comments and harassment from the public over the sexual abuse scandals in the Church. The priest who answered said that in his experience it is actually us, every day normal parishioners, who cop the flack on this and no one has ever said anything to him about it. One of the beautiful Sisters of Life answered that all we can do is be polite and pray for the person.
It reminded me of a recent incident that happened to me and a fellow parishioner. We were selling raffle tickets, fundraising for an upcoming school event, at our local supermarket. We were approached by a man who asked us if we were a Catholic school. When we answered yes, he proceeded to give us his faith history. Apparently he’d been brought up Catholic and had even considered becoming a priest at one point.
The conversation was lively and entertaining until he suddenly said, “But I couldn’t be a priest because I don’t like little boys.” My friend and I were dumb-founded. I mean what do you say to that? The man left rather hurriedly when he realised we didn’t find his joke too funny. But I still look back on it and wonder what would have been the best response. Any advice?