Anyone who has heard the recent news coming out of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania is rightfully outraged. It wasn’t just that possibly thousands of people were sexually abused, but what’s especially revolting is the way these perpetrators exploited their priesthood to take advantage of their victims. Worse still, was the way many bishops appeared to have either trivialized allegations of abuse, ignored them or covered them up.
If you’re like me, then you too are battling strong emotions.
Our hearts go out to the victims, while our blood boils, enraged at the clerics who preyed on their flocks and the prelates who protected them. We love the Church, but we’re torn because some of the very men who represented the Church to us, violated their positions to commit extremely serious sins that devastated the lives of so many people.
“What keeps me going is remembering where the Church came from and where she is going. The Church was born from the pierced heart of Jesus as he hung on the Cross. The Church is headed for heaven, though till then she journeys here on earth, amidst the trials of this world and the sinfulness of men, knowing that she will only receive perfection in the glory of heaven. The Church is a complex reality that comes together from a human and a divine element. The Church is at one and the same time both the organization with its hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ. Right now, there’s a lot of attention on the former aspect, but not as much focus on the latter.”
To put things in some perspective, the Boston Globe reports from 2002 that exposed the systemic problems that allowed clergy abuse to thrive, resulted in the Church, at least here in the United States, implementing several reforms. The grand jury report from Pennsylvania itself recognized that much has changed over the last fifteen years, with the Church now advising law enforcement of abuse reports more promptly, establishing internal review processes, and so on.
However, clearly, there’s more that can and should be done...