From its very beginning, to, and including the present, there have always been scandals in the Church. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, Peter denied knowing Jesus, and Thomas doubted the story of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. One of Jesus parables speaks to the reality that there will always be saints as well as sinners in the church. This week a list of names of people credibly accused of abuse in Catholic parishes or schools was released.
Psychologists and Psychiatrists tell us that we are as sick as our secrets. Secrets can isolate us, make us more defensive, and can be a way of avoiding accountability. Certain wounds that are left alone and untreated don’t go away without treatment including fresh air and light. Jesus said, “The Truth will set you free.” Sometimes, it can embarrass, disgust, anger us first.
Our first thoughts and prayers must be for victims whose faith and trust were betrayed. They are not to blame. They had a right to expect and certainly deserved better from a priest, deacon, religious, or lay employee. Nor are lawyers to blame because lawsuits have helped and are helping to bring about changes.
In one of my homilies last August I said, “About people who harm and abuse children, Jesus says, ‘It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck to be thrown into the sea.’ ‘Fourth Century Saint John Chrysostom said, ‘The roads in hell are paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts.’” Eleventh Century Saint Peter Damian warned bishops and superiors who allowed such sinful and scandalous behavior to continue will be judged as if they themselves had committed the very same sins.
Once again I ask you to “remember to not lose hope or give into despair. Jesus began the Church because we need it. He knows that we can’t make it on our own. Jesus never has and never will give up on the Church. He promised, “The gates of hell will not prevail against it.” He said he will be with us always. Jesus gives us his very self when we receive his Body and Blood in communion. When we give up – if we walk away – we let the side of evil win. It is we ourselves who suffer when we deprive ourselves of the sacraments.”
I’ll conclude with these words of Sixteenth Century saint and reformer Teresa of Avila. “Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you, all things are passing, God is unchanging. Patience gains all; nothing is lacking to those who have God: God alone is sufficient.”
Rev. Paul Wharton