By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

The current clerical sex abuse scandal is a sign of how the body of Christ has been wounded in the ongoing cosmic spiritual battle, according to Kathleen Beckman, co-founder of the international association Foundation of Prayer for Priests.  

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Praying over Kathleen Beckman, co-founder of the international organization Foundation of Prayer for Priests, center, before she speaks at an Oct. 27 Magnificat meeting are, from left, Father Andrew Merrick, director of the Office of Vocations of the Diocese of Baton Rouge; Father Al Davidson, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Church in Pierre Part and spiritual advisor for Magnificat; and Gwen Gillis, Magnificat service team coordinator.  Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator 

 

She urged people to “pick up their weapon” and follow the example of Mary to bring victory and healing through intercessory prayer.  

At a meeting of Magnificat on Oct. 27, Beckman spoke passionately about her faith journey, through her own ministry with Magnificat in Orange County, California and Prayer for Priests, and how Mary calls people to become spiritual mothers and fathers for priests and priestly vocations.  

During a trip to the Holy Land with priest friends in 2013, Beckman shivered in the damp cold as she toured the church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, which is identified as the site of Calvary, where Jesus died. As she placed her hand on the cold, hard rock upon which his cross was placed, she pondered if she would have remained at the foot of the cross or run away with fear. But her attention was drawn a few feet to the right to an icon portraying Mary’s pierced heart. As she looked into the Blessed Mother’s eyes, she knew she wouldn’t because of Mary’s maternal solitude.  

“While I was praying and interceding for my family, I felt like Mary was inviting me,” said Beckman. “Mary was putting on my heart something inspiring: her love and care for priests; the sense she wants her priests to thrive, to be holy as her son Jesus is holy; and a sense that she knows that many priests are languishing and they need our prayers and support.” 

As Beckman walked in Jesus’ footsteps during her pilgrimage, she said Mary also walked her through the founding of Prayer for Priests, a Marian apostolate of lay faithful dedicated to advancing and protecting the holiness and fruitfulness of the priesthood through prayer, sacrifice, service and study. 

In 2007 Beckman received the booklet “Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity” by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy. With its release a movement of prayer started, but did not formalize. 

During her pilgrimage, a priest from Rome gave her the congregation’s second edition of the book. 

Returning home with her faith rekindled and the support of priests, Beckman wrote a letter to the congregation proposing a team of priests and laity form an apostolate to promote the congregation’s teachings in the “Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity.” 

On the feast of Magnificat 2013, Beckman received a letter from the congregation expressing enthusiastic support. A website was developed, with the help of a seminarian, a media campaign started and Beckman wrote a book “Praying for Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization.” 

The movement now has thousands of members in more than 20 countries. 

Beckman noted there are many priests who come from non-Catholic backgrounds or broken homes and are in need of spiritual mothers and fathers. 

She said with the present clergy abuse scandal, which she referred to as “the summer of scandal,” hundreds of people have been signing up to become part of Prayer for Priests. 

“We can hardly keep up,” we want to lift up the priests right now because they are in crisis.’ People must be recognizing their need for prayer and sacrifice.” 

She addresses the current scandal in her newly released book, “When Women Pray.” 

Beckman told the Magnificat meeting attendees, “Pray for priests, because of the spiritual battle in our midst. Because of the secularization of the culture the church is attacked all the more, and the priests are in the forefront. So this is very timely. 

“Priests are taking it in stride, but there has been a wound in the body of Christ. I believe that God intends the light to shine in the darkness because the Holy Spirit has everything to do with the sanctification and healing of the body of Christ.” 

Beckman acknowledged that a “sacred trust” has been broken by a small percentage of clergy. Prayer for Priests also prays for the victims, bishops and cardinals. 

When Beckman read the Pennsylvania grand jury report, followed by the Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick scandal, memories surfaced of a brutal murder of a family member, when she lost trust in everyone and even God for a time. 

However, God brought her to the point of forgiving the murderer and praying for his salvation. 

She said the whole church is suffering. 

Beckman said there has been a deconstruction of religion, church, marriage and family life that allows evil to enter. </span id=”23″>

“We see that right now, it’s the new cosmic battle,” Beckman said. 

But far from retreating, Beckman, who serves as the coordinator of exorcism and deliverance ministry in her diocese, urged people to pray and trust God’s divine mercy will heal a broken world. 

“I have been at many exorcisms, and I can assure you that God always wins,” said Beckman. 

She added, “We have the authority of the entire praying church. Whether you realize it not, you are in the ministry of healing and deliverance.” 

The current sexual abuse crisis means intercessory prayers, sacrifice, service and study are needed more than ever, Beckman said. She referred to Esther 4:14, where Mordecai reassured Esther when asking her to plead to the king for Israel’s deliverance even though her request could result in her death: “Who knows – perhaps it was for a time like this that you became queen?” 

For more information, visit the foundation’s site at foundationforpriests.org.