Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!
Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!
We have watched with an absolute horror while the wounds of the sexual abuse crisis have been reopened in the Church. With each new revelation of abuse – and even worse the cover-up – we can’t help but to have a sickened feeling within our hearts and souls.
I have refrained from commenting until now, though vaguely referring to the filth in the Church from time to time, as I was awaiting the release of the Pennsylvania report. With each new report, the full breadth of the crisis filth in the Church becomes apparent.
While it is indeed easy to be angry and to want to lose faith, I want to call you to greater charity, wisdom, and faith. We must respond to the opposite of virtues in comparison to where our passions would otherwise naturally lead us.
While the Church hierarchy, at various times and for various reasons, has indeed failed us, we must remember that our faith is not in them. Instead, our faith is in Jesus Christ. The hierarchy is called to represent Christ, but that does not mean that they always fulfill this high calling. The teachings of Christ may fail in the world when the world sees the failings of the clergy, but in reality, the teachings of Christ cannot falter. It is to this that we must cling and hold.
I am in no way suggesting that we disregard the hierarchy or that they are below our respect. We must keep in mind that not every priest has abused children, and not every bishop has sheltered abusers. These numbers do remain a minority, even as the numbers are staggering and appalling. However, our faith cannot depend upon them. They are called to support and encourage us in our faith, that is their job. Our job, however, is not to allow our faith to rest in them, it must rest in Christ and the Church.
Bishops and priests are men. Yes, we should have high expectations of them, because Christ Himself has high expectations. To those that have been given, more is expected (Luke 12:48). However, they remain men. In Butler’s lives of the saints, in describing the dates before the Protestant Reformation, he says: “The general corruption weakened the Church before the assaults of Protestantism and provided an apparent excuse for that revolt, and the decay of religion with its accompaniment of moral wickedness was not checked by the clergy, many of whom, high and low, secular and regular were themselves sunk in iniquity and indifference. The Church was sick in head and members.”
I will continue to address this in my columns and sermons in the coming weeks. For now, what we can do is certainly pray for those who have been hurt, and pray for those who are the offenders. Many of the abused said that they pray for their abusers every day, and we must do the same. We must also pray for our good priests and bishops, praying that the Lord continues to make them shepherds after His own heart. We must also make acts of faith each day and frequent the Sacraments often. We must also do penance and fast. The devil is attacking the Church and causing grievous sins within the clergy. As Our Lord has told us in the Gospel, some demons must be “cast out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:20).