Dealing with the crisis in the Church
“In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course.” St. Boniface’s
There is no way to try to tone down the scandal that people are dealing with in the Catholic Church today. Many just leave, I think that is a mistake. Others who stay in the church are trying to find out how to regain some trust in their leaders.
There are many articles on line that deal with this issue and each is useful. However, the betrayal of our leaders in how they dealt with the abuse issues is a wound that will take a long time to heal. There is a saying, perspective is everything, so this is mine.
I do not base my faith on how others behave and live out their faith. That would include our leaders in the church. There will always be failure in how our leaders fulfill their mission. Just as there is failure in the lives of the faithful as well. It is just that the abuse scandal, because it comes such a high level, that the ripple effect is so great.
Our faith does not rest on our leaders, but in the promise of Jesus Christ that the gates of hell will not be victorious over the church. That can be a source of strength for all of us. To take root in Jesus Christ and his promises.
Anger is often an appropriate response when injustice is done. However, it is important to not allow that anger to become an injustice. We are the church, we need to fight for that. One way of doing that is to take deeper root in our faith tradition and to ask the Holy Spirit for the wisdom to pass through this time of deep suffering for all of us.
We need to draw close to Jesus in times like these. We are called to move forward in trust and not to run away from the reality of ‘sin’ and yes ‘betrayal’ that happens in the church. The only way to off-set this tragedy is to face our anger and rage, not to run from it, but bring it in prayer. For it is in times like these that we are called upon to live out the councils of the Sermon on the Mount. Forgiveness can only be given after we allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to heal us and to also bring out compassion for the victims, as well as to pray for those men who have caused so much harm. Those who have abused, and actually worse, those who have covered it up.
I refuse to give power to those who fail to affect my faith in Jesus Christ. To leave the church in anger does no one any good, but in fact can be harmful to those who leave, especially if they were devout and lived out their faith, fully.
Where is our focus? When we look to Jesus, we can walk through the storm, if we look away we can sink beneath the waves. The journey is difficult and the sense of betrayal can be very deep, but to stay on course is what we are called to do and at the same time to demand that those who covered up the scandal, and those who harmed the young be brought to justice….without becoming bitter, or filled with hate. We are called to pray for all, that includes those who abuse, for many of them were also abused when young, it is a cycle that can only be stopped by mercy, compassion, and deep prayer.
Bitterness and rage are not gifts of the Holy Spirit. We need to understand that we lay men and women are also priests, just not sacramental. Our prayers are needed, we can be a force of healing for all. The blessed Mother tells to pray, pray, pray, for a reason.—Br.MD