As a long-serving priest, Fr. James Roth lived his share of hardships, pastoring his congregation through individual emotional and spiritual struggles, even burying their young children. But many years ago, he told me, with furrowed brow and shaking head, that the sacrament of Confession, having to judge the hearts of others, was his life’s heaviest burden.
Members of Congress had evidence presented to them and pursued impeachment. A U.S. Senator considered the evidence and voted to remove from office, a president of his own party. Kansas lawmakers maintained that the general election, not the political party primary election, is the proper time to consider a constitutional amendment and voted accordingly.
Our duty in our political process is not to discern motive, assign nefarious intent and find evil in our fellow citizens who disagree with our own policy positions. Particularly if we see ourselves as a Christian nation, our duty is to disavow and speak out against such messaging, not consume, condone and re-share it.
Why do we do what we do? What truly lies in the deepest hearts of women and men? God knows. By his faith and the vows of his vocation, Fr. Roth was tasked with making the same effort himself. And it was his life’s burden to bear.
I don’t think Fr. Roth shared his thoughts with me because he needed a confidant. I think he was sharing a lesson about not playing God and judging others. We all having weaknesses, shortcomings and failures, but people are good people. I think it is a lesson for all of us.