While everyone feigns shock at the revelations out of Pennsylvania this past week, this isn’t news to the faithful in the pews. We have been calling for accountability for years. We all either know someone or of someone who has been a victim of abuse or targeted for such abuse. When confronted, prelates turned a deaf ear and a blind eye. Even when the evidence was clear that a priest was targeting who he thought was a 16 year-old, it was excused because there was no evidence he had been able to fulfill those desires… yet. The abuse that came to light almost 15 years ago was an opportunity to cleanse the Church. The Dallas Charter was a superficial cleaning that didn’t touch the root problems, make amends with victims, nor administer appropriate penalties for all offenders.
The Church (in large part) is still failing to address the root problems in the current crisis. I think Bishop Morlino of Madison had the best response I have seen so far in his pastoral letter. Cardinal Burke was very forthright in his interview with Raymond Burke on EWTN’s The World Over. Most other responses seem more concerned with the embarrassment to the clergy and making promises to do better… without identifying the root problem. The root problem is the homosexual subculture that has taken hold in the Church. Any letter that fails to recognize this truth is continuing to fail in correction. The first step in the cure of any disease is an accurate diagnosis. The Body of Christ is infected with unrepentant sin.
I have noted for years that the liberal mindset is the most closed-minded of ideologies. They use our open-mindedness against us. While we invite all viewpoints into our midst, liberals recruit and promote only those of the same mind. You can see this playing out dramatically on college campuses today where conservative speakers are violentlyrejected and only the liberal side is embraced. The media and academia are both measurably over 90% liberal due to this phenomenon of only embracing their own side. As liberals gain authority, they only hire those who agree with their orthodoxy. The diversity which brought them into the fold is eschewed in favor of ideological purity to a liberal agenda and worldview. This is the same process that has brought us where we are today in the Church. Our leaders have sought to display tolerance to the intolerant and have been repaid by a growing subculture, hostile to our teachings.
At Mass last weekend, the celebrant priest made the comment, “we tried to rehabilitate offending priests but have only recently learned pedophilia is incurable.” This is more obfuscation. The problems of pedophilia have been known for more than three decades. There were even promises made regarding the Dallas Charter that pedophile priests would be out of ministry and away from children. Creating safe environments for children was one of the highest proprieties. That promise wasn’t kept and we are here again. Comments like this suggest we will continue on the same road with band aids for symptoms that don’t address the true malady. The incurability of criminal pedophilia isn’t a recent discovery. It’s a convenient excuse for past inaction.
I heard a story from someone close to me recently that puts this situation into a clearer focus. He had attended a retreat where the abuse was discussed. He was told the accused asked for prayers as they deal with these disordered desires and offenses. My friend asked whether the offenders had called for prayers for the victims and their families… No. Sexual disorders are selfish in nature. This response demonstrates that the selfishness of the abuser continues through the so-called rehabilitation and there is no internal transformation. In many ways, the abusers are treated as prodigal children returning to the fold. Yet, they acknowledge no true repentance for their crimes, only regret at their own suffering. Criminal pedophilia is the crime with the highest rate of recidivism and it should be treated as such among offending clergy.
There are bad actors in every walk of life. They do bad things. When this happens, those in authority must deal justice in the aftermath. That is what the bishops have failed to do for a long time and it is worse than the abuse itself. In many cases, the power of the Church has been wielded against the accusers rather than the abusers. This must be addressed and corrected. Actions like this protect the guilty, punish the victims, and scandalize the faithful
The main body of bishops and priests is still in CYA mode rather than taking offensive action to root out the offenders in their midst. The modern Church in this country is following the secular culture in their sin rather than aggressively opposing sin. We are a “go-along-to-get-along” Church. We accept what is unacceptable to appear “reasonable” and “non-judgmental” rather than simply standing for the higher truths. Where we should simply preach the truth, we water it down by making it personal. When it’s personal, the truth is a two-edged sword most are not prepared to wield. Truth isn’t personal. It is either preached or ignored. We have been embracing the sin with the sinner and confirming the sinner’s identification with his sin.
We fail in both justice and mercy. When we show mercy without justice to the accused, we do greater harm to accuser and victim together. The victim continues in their temporal pain which may be a millstone to their faith. The accuser is confirmed in his sin and a lack of real repentance may condemn him for eternity. Certainly, both situations are scandals of infinite magnitude.
Our Church has been embracing homosexuality rather than confronting it for decades. I offer these few examples (among thousands possible) to prove my words:
Any resolution that dances around the problem isn’t a resolution. If the Church doesn’t stand for truth (especially difficult truths) then it doesn’t stand with Christ, Who is Truth personified. I heard a parishioner after Mass today say that the only thing to be done is to pray. I respectfully disagree. In a way, that is a little like the Protestant understanding of faith… one must only believe in one’s heart to be saved. Faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:26). Prayer without a firm resolve to do what must be done is an empty prayer. Where amends must be made, they should be made. Where the truth must be said, it should be said.
The homosexual subculture problem in the Church is related to my effort to encourage the bishops to speak out against the Democratic Party for their advocacy of abortion and homosexual marriage. Both are sins that cry out to God in Heaven (Gen 4:10 & Gen 19:13). Both are in Democratic Party platforms at all levels… and yet our bishops have been mostly silent in condemnation. Are they silent because they sympathize with the Democrats on social issues or has their silence been coerced by a ruthless party which threatened to expose the unfolding scandal? Neither situation is flattering for our bishops. The time is now to speak all truth and come clean for the scandalized faithful. The culture of death must be defeated by the Church standing resolutely for the way, the truth, and the life.
“The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops,” said St Athanasius. As a husband and father, I am responsible for the souls in my home. Priests are responsible for the souls in their parish. You are responsible for the souls in your diocese or archdiocese. You have been blessed with great power and authority in the Kingdom of God. You have been cursed with great responsibility to stand against evil. Rather than forcefully condemn the culture of death, you have allowed it to metastasize within the hierarchy of the Church. The task of removing this cancer will likely be the greatest challenge of our generation. Failure has eternal consequences for laity and clergy alike.
“ If I say to the wicked, You shall surely die—and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade the wicked from their evil conduct in order to save their lives—then they shall die for their sin, but I will hold you responsible for their blood.”
– Ezekiel 3:18
I pray for all of the ministers of the Church in these dark times. Your challenge is to undo the decades of decay and neglect that have hurt your authority and message. Faithful Catholics everywhere stand with you as you stand for the truths of the Church. We know right from wrong and we know the Catechism of our Church. We will hear the truth when you preach it… and be disappointed when you fail. We know you are as human as we are. We know you have a most difficult job. We also know you are the ones commissioned to do what must be done. We will stand with you as you rise.
I offer myself to you in service as you work through this and welcome the opportunity to discuss with you as your schedule permits. You will remain in my family’s prayers.