Monsignor Charles Pope: God is Watching…and so are many others
Monsignor Pope is a great blessing to the Church.
Here is an excerpt from a recent article in which Monsignor offers sage counsel about how our lives are an open book:
Frankly, acknowledging the fact that not only is God watching us but others are as well, can have a positive effect. We may not approve of the fact that others might be watching us, but in the end it can be helpful. A few examples might help illustrate what I mean.
- Internet Pornography – As a confessor, I increasingly hear the sin of Internet pornography confessed. One of the things I try to remind penitents of is the fact that when they are on the Internet they are essentially out in public with a name tag on. All of their browsing habits are stored on their own computers, on the sites they visit, and in the browsing engine they use. If they think they are in the privacy of their own room they ought to think again. Personally, this knowledge keeps me far away from bad sites of any kind on the Internet. There is a kind of salutary fear in knowing that I am out in public when I’m surfing the Internet.
- Cable TV – Those boxes send data about what I watch and for how long back to the cable company. My viewing habits are known to those who can find them. Frankly, it keeps me out of trouble. I hope other virtues do as well, but remembering that I am in public is very helpful.
- E-mail, Facebook, blogs, etc. – Once you press send or publish, you’ve just made history. The contents of what you have said are out there to stay. You may delete it, but the information will remain on servers for potentially a very long time. Be very careful what you say, because no matter how private you may think it is, it is not. You are always within earshot of some server that loves to keep your data. What you type in the darkness will be brought to light and what you post in secret will shouted from the housetop (to paraphrase Luke 12:3). I may not like that what I send or post is ultimately public, but in the end it makes me more careful about what I say and type.
- Accountability – As a priest, I think it is important to live a rather transparent life. I very rarely just slip away from the rectory. I almost always tell someone on the staff where I am going (at least generally) and when I expect to return. I am a public figure. Sure, I have some privacy up in my rectory suite, but overall I make it a rule to account for my whereabouts. I also usually wear my clerical attire (except on a day off). There are certainly times when I expect the rectory to be a private home (after 9 PM), but even then I live with three other priests. And though we have separate apartments, the communal quality of the rectory provides a salutary sort of accountability in terms of personal behavior.