Walking our Faith: How do we go forward as a Catholic Church?
Walking our Faith
Last week my brother asked me why God didn’t protect the innocent children who were abused by priests in Pennsylvania. I told him I didn’t have a good answer but I hoped by speaking out on behalf of those children, I would help it not to happen again.
If you were to ask most people who don’t believe in God, why they don’t, they would list the natural disasters that kill thousands, mutant cells that suddenly become disease, birth defects, holocausts. How can we believe God is good, when our world is so senselessly bad?
We might accept that illness, acts of nature and war atrocities are horrible but understandable. But my brother has a valid point, shouldn’t the House of God be the safest place in the world for a child of God?
Where was God when representatives of his church either sexually abused children or looked the other way? And how can the members of the Catholic faith be asked to forgive again and again and again, when the revelations of sexual abuse in the church throughout the world grow in numbers?
According to The Associated Press, in Pennsylvania, 300 predator priests abused over 1,000 children; in Minnesota, 450 abused victims; in Austria 800 cases of abuse; hundreds of cases in Belgium; 14,500 children in Ireland; 547 members of a church choir in German abused between 1945-90s; 14 priests defrocked in Chile in response to reports of abuse.
How much is too much? Imagine what these numbers would be if the Pennsylvania investigation were carried out in all 50 of our United States. Have we finally reached a tipping point? Yesterday, the AG of St. Louis announced the launch of an investigation in sexual abuse allegations of the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese is cooperating.
We can make excuses for the priests involved, say they are psychologically sick or even evil. But after the first case of abuse was discovered why wasn’t that priest immediately defrocked and turned over for criminal prosecution? I’ve heard some people argue that “back then” pedophilia was considered a mental illness, something to be cured by rehabilitation. But isn’t abusing a child no matter what the cause, not reason enough to remove a priest instead of hiding him?
I find most inexcusable the cardinals and bishops who, knowing that abusing a child is morally reprehensible, no matter what the cause, still passed these predatory priests to other parishes where they could harm other children. What excuse do we offer for the cardinals and bishops who allowed these priests to remain in the church?
What excuse do we offer for the cardinals and bishops who knew of Cardinal McCarrick’s decades of sexual abuse of seminarians and not only turned a blind eye but promoted McCarrick to one of the highest positions in the church?
Pope Francis issued a letter this week stating a zero-tolerance policy going forward and calling sexual abuse of children a criminal matter. However, there was no mention of what action he will take going forward. But considering the worldwide plague of child sexual abuse that has been reported it is clear that if our Catholic Church is to be saved or trusted, drastic action is needed immediately.
I strongly call for the resignations of all bishops and cardinals who have had any hand in transferring or hiding priests over the past 50 years. It is time for a leader with the courage of Jesus Christ to overturn the tables in the temple, to throw open the doors and windows of the church and let a cleansing light of administrative transparency shine in.
The Catholic Church can only regain the trust of its members by demonstrating it no longer tolerates this behavior by its priests and, with true validation of love and loyalty toward its parishioners, will rid itself of the cardinals and bishops who allowed this virus to infiltrate the body of Christ.
On Tuesday morning, I woke early to attend morning Mass at St. Mary’s. To be honest, I hesitated, my heart still broken by what is happening in our church. But I went. Receiving Communion, I was reminded that it is Jesus who brought me into the church, and the liturgy which made me choose the Catholic church over my former Protestant church.
And it is still Jesus, who keeps me in the church. His message of love, forgiveness, atonement and redemption. I cannot leave the Catholic faith because I love Jesus and I believe his goodness and mercy will triumph over the evil perpetrated by a minority of priests, bishops and cardinals.
I do not have a good answer for my brother’s question. I don’t know why God allowed children to be violated and broken by men who professed to be leaders in the House of God. However, I believe those men, and those who enabled them, will eventually receive the punishment they deserve. I pray the children will find solace and love. I pray our church will be healed.
Suzanne Anderson is giving a talk about faith and the writing life and having a book signing Saturday from 3-5 p.m. at the Next Page Bookstore on Main Street in Frisco.
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