“Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, and what came was the Church,” Pope Benedict XVI writes in restating (but not concurring with) the words of Catholic modernist Alfred Loisy. “These words may be considered ironic, but they also express sadness.”

Perhaps this sadness resonates because we each know the chasm between the Father’s boundless mercy for us and our hasty condemnations of others.

Put another way, both brothers of the parable of the Prodigal Son are present in my heart, and I’m guessing in yours too. “The older brother knows nothing of the inner transformations and wanderings experienced by the younger brother, of his journey into distant parts, of his fall and his new self-discovery. He sees only injustice.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

It is with sadness that I observe the treatment of Father Thomas Rosica, CSB. In reflecting on what’s happened over the past few months, I’d like to share with you the admiration, respect, and gratitude I have for a priest I have been blessed to know for two decades. My purpose is to appeal to the “good father” within you.

In 1998, I moved to Toronto, bringing a typical Vancouverite’s prejudices: Toronto is big, it’s cold, their hockey team is terrible, and the people are unfriendly. Immediately, I was corrected on the last point when I was welcomed into the Catholic community at the Newman Centre, led by Father Rosica.

This was an inflection point in my life. I started attending Mass more frequently. Father Tom encouraged me to visit hospital patients. I studied Church documents Father Tom shared with me.

In 2000, I was privileged to live at the Newman Centre, where a highlight was the nightly discussion at family-style supper with fellow students, Sister Eileen, RSM, Sisters Winnifred and Anne, CSJ, Father Tom, and visitors.

Then Father Tom was named national director and CEO of World Youth Day and asked me to join his team. For two years, I was a behind-the-scenes witness to the extraordinary, culminating with the arrival of Pope John Paul II in Toronto.

I returned to Vancouver as a different person. What had happened? I believe it was grace, and a key channel was Father Tom through the sacraments, his teaching, his friendship, and his example. Over four years, I saw a priest striving wholeheartedly to offer himself daily as “a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church.” (CCC 1547).

Father Tom is a man who has given his life to the service of the Church. He is a profound follower of Christ. He cares about those entrusted to him. He is unbelievably generous. Father Tom embodies agape.

He is also a great cook, laughs heartily, and suffers intensely. He is our brother. He has apologized and has paid a heavy price.

Now, you and I – we the Church – can choose to help build the Kingdom and close the chasm. Please consider opening your arms to embrace our brother. “Whatever we have to forgive one another is trivial in comparison with the goodness of God, who forgives us.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

Christopher Radziminski is a policy analyst for the City of Vancouver and former Service and Justice co-ordinator for the Archdiocese of Vancouver.