I came across an online story discussing unsealed documents in the diocese of San Bernadino California regarding sexual abuse by priests. As a Seminarian I cannot explain to you the overwhelming grief and pain it brings me every time I read a story like this. There truly are no words to describe the deep pain I feel every time I read of hear of these stories. There are also no words for the anger that I have for those who were so inept at handling the situation.
When I read stories like this I honestly ask myself and God “How do any of us stay in the Church?” It literally is by the grace of God that faith can endure in these times.
I’m also sick of the apologetics that come with this situation. They make me grow tired and weary. How do we defend something that is so utterly indefensible? How can we, with straight faces and upright hearts, try to discuss statistics, reasons, psychology, and the like? And furthermore – how can some people out there actually get angry with the media? Get angry with those who write and talk about this issue?
Are we being treated fairly? Certainly not. But what underlines this? Why is there this huge rush to jump on the Church? There are many who will point to the devil, many people will quote this as the everlasting battle of the “gates of Hell” encroaching on the Church. And maybe some of that is in the midst of this. But really, when you get right down to it, people intuitively expect so much more – and so much better – from the Church. People, deep down inside of them, want to know that there is a place of salvation – even if they haven’t quite gotten around to surrendering to that salvation. People want to know there’s a sense of divinity in this world, a place of God’s true presence, and a place that can still be held up as a model for something that is good, and right in this world.
And we have failed. There are no other ways to say it. There are no ways to twist the facts, massage the truth, or cleverly use misdirection. We have failed miserably – and have destroyed hearts, lives, and faith in the process. With each and every cover up, each and every secret archive we experience death by a thousand cuts, and each one of them hurts more than the one before.
It’s time for our leadership to do what we should’ve done a long time ago. Beg, plead, and utterly fall at the feet of God for His mercy. Anyone who thinks business as usual will work needs to simply be left behind. The only response that seems logical is one of complete and utter surrender to God to make it right. To beg Him to send among us prophets in our time to call us to deep repentance and renewal.
Sadly business as usual is still going on. There are still people out there trying to hold up spinning plates and somehow trying to stitch back together tatters and threads that are torn beyond repair. It’s madness. And it needs to stop.
How do we endure in these times of great trial and distress? The way Saints have for 2,000 years by focusing our minds, hearts, and souls on the Cross of Jesus Christ and ask the Great and Good Shepherd to lead His Church in these days. May we have a renewed awe and love for Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, and may we be set ablaze by God’s Most Holy and capable Spirit.