We are all saddened, sickened and enraged about this recent report exposing sexual abuse by priests and cover ups of these crimes against victims in Pennsylvania. Bishops in the dioceses mentioned in the report were knowledgeable of the crimes these predators had committed as well as the threat these perpetrators posed. They are complicit in the crimes. When the Church does not follow its laws in dealing with crimes, civil authorities have a right to step in and do what this Grand Jury has done, and we are grateful for what they have done. Some dioceses have been forthright in handing over those who have committed these crimes to the proper authorities, others–such as those listed in Grand Jury report–have not, and their misdeeds and continued abuse of victims are now exposed. More will follow, I imagine.
The Archbishop of Denver has a statement which is posted on the Archdiocesan website as well as the CTK website.
I have been preaching on the abuse this week since the news broke.
- The Assumption of Mary, a symbol of the Church, shows that what was thought to be dead shall be brought back to life by the hand of God.
- Ezekiel 16: God is now punishing the crimes committed, and at the same time, the Lord will not abandon us through it all. In fact, God will recreate us.
“Getting in front of the story” by saying that priests are only a small percentage of pedophiles is no longer tolerable to anyone. There are a lot of ways that something can be done about these crimes, the cover up and the evil done to innocents, and the standards will only change when everyone in the Church addressees it as our problem. Since we are all affected by the sins/crimes of these men, we all have a right and a duty to say and do something.
The consequences of these sins unfortunately are also affecting those in the Church who have not participated in the sin, as Psalm 44: 18-27 notes. Those whose hands are clean can at least offer up the shame they must now bear on behalf of the victims abused by priests and then abused a second time by bishops who did nothing to protect them. Prayerful union can then impel each member of the Body of Christ to do something—to act—so that such sinful crimes can always be exposed henceforward, and hopefully be prevented in the future.
Our God will lead us in the right way. Again, many routes are possible to set things right for victims and to make the future right. The article below offers one possible step in that right direction. As the late historian Barbara Tuchman once stated about the consequential collapse of all institutions, there are always three factors involved:
- Obliviousness to the growing disaffection of constituents
- Primacy of self-aggrandizement
- Illusion of invulnerable status
The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church (Matthew 16: 18) even this hell that came from within. And as Saint Augustine notes in Sermon 295 about the keys being handed to Simon Peter: “It was not one man who received the keys, but the entire Church considered as one…in speaking only to one, Christ suggests the unity of all.” Now is the time for prayerful action: for the healing of our victims, our families and our Church.
Rev. James R. Fox
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