29 August 2018


29 AUGUST 2018. The specter of horrible truth has been upon the U.S. and worldwide Church for some days now: the horrible truth that some senior and well-regarded pastors used their ministries as a selfish means to fulfill their own sexual desires; the horrible truth that the Pennsylvania Church, over the last seventy some-odd years, regularly reassigned priests who were know abusers, regardless of the potential for fresh abuse and continued victimization of innocents; and the horrible truth that there has been or is a sexually disordered subculture in some seminaries and rectories that undermines the heart of Christ’s teaching of self-giving love that the Church has proclaimed since our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross. God bless the people in Chile, Ireland, and the multitude of other countries affected by their own abuse scandals.

Our bishops have failed us. They have not lived up to the life of holiness that each of us is called to live - that each of us is invited to strive for to live life-eternal with God, our Creator. They have failed us in their humanity. And, it is no surprise.

We are all human, and all of us are in need of conversion of heart. Why else did Christ enter the world to save us, but from the ravages of sin and death? Without conversion, we are doomed – literally and figuratively. Doomed to a life without hope in Christ, without Christ’s peace (conformity to the Divine Will), and doomed to a life without happiness and satisfaction, as St. Augustine says: “Our heart is restless, until it rests in You [O Lord].”

So, what should the response to this failure be? And, are we right to assign this failure to all bishops, including the Holy Father?

Our response should be one of action – prayer-centered action. Prayers of reparation have poured out of some, and more are needed. But, each of us faithful, including those ordained, should pray for wisdom and guidance in doing our own part, given our state of life, our abilities, and our capacity to effect positive change, in conformity with the Divine Will, to do what is needed or appropriate to bring about healing and build up the Kingdom of God on earth. A people centered on this cannot fail. The Holy Spirit will not permit the forces of evil to prevail against us. (Psalm 21:11)

If the laity seeks holiness, the Church will be transformed. If the laity exercises its priestly calling to be Christ to one another, the Church and the world cannot remain the same. If the laity acts, our shepherds will bring us further as the body of Christ.

This action, too, must have a practical sense about how to seek solidarity with the victims of abuse and prevent abuse from ever occurring again. Solidarity is the first practical objective, we must walk with the victims of abuse in their journeys, so that healing can begin.

Bishops – I beg you – throw open the dark recesses of these problems to the light of truth. Allow us all to grieve with abuse victims and seek reconciliation with them. And, truth will provide no quarter to abusers. 

Bishops, be vulnerable to your flocks in all failings and do not consider yourselves above any other. All are equally answerable to our Lord, all must be held to account for their actions, especially those actions that rob innocents of faith and trust in God and the Church.

No evil can stand the light of truth. We must truly seek it in every way.

So, are all bishops guilty of failure? Yes. Each of us is complicit in looking away when we see sinful failings, and we all sin. All sin affects the community. A bishop’s failure affects his flock, and the flock’s failure is the “stink” that the shepherd has to contend with in loving, as Christ taught. Let none think he is without blame.

However, this does not mean that our bishops should be condemned. On the contrary, they need the support of the faithful in fulfilling their ministry – to proclaim the Gospel and lead souls to Christ.

Any bishop who cannot, after an examination of conscience, rest comfortably that his first mission is to lead in holiness, so as to bring about the Kingdom of God, should resign. All other worldly, societal, humanistic, social, and cultural concerns should be swept aside, if truth is to reign in the heart of the Church.

I pray for our priests, bishops, religious, consecrated, and all souls who earnestly yearn for God.

Pray with me, and build up the Kingdom, set upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, the truth, the way, and the life. (John 14:6)

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