NOW that the Church is buffeted by an ugly crisis of clerical sexual abuse and other related issues, we have to realize that now is also the time to love it even more. Instead of simply being carried away by the spiral of scandal and anger, fault-finding and blaming, let us see what we—each one of us—can do to help our mother, the Church. We are all in this together. Our love for it should increase rather than diminish because of this problem.
Let’s remember that if something bad happens to us, God at least allows it to happen. And if he allows it, it is because a greater good can be derived from it. Everything happens for a reason.
We already know that the Church is both holy and in need of constant purification. This is what the Catechism teaches us about this point:
“The Church…clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time. Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness.” (827)
This is not, of course, to mitigate the gravity of the scandal caused by the recent spate of news about clerical sexual abuse and alleged papal irresponsibility related to the issue. But neither should we forget the reality about how the Church is and what responsibility each of us has with regard to this reality.
We all need to pray for the Church even more, importuning the Holy Spirit to guide us in resolving this current crisis. Yes, a lot of prayer and a lot of sacrifices, also as a way of atonement and reparation for all our sins and especially for the sins of those who have directly caused this crisis. Yes, we all need to do penance and to go through the constant process of conversion and renewal. I am sure that if we do these, we would know how to get by and move on.
I believe the crux of the problem is the usual thing—our lack of genuine holiness or our weak effort to sanctify ourselves, waging war against our weakness, temptations and sin, and ever growing in the virtues. We should never set aside these duties.
But a more concrete and realistic solutions also have to be found to address this problem that has grown into a monster. I guess the Church authorities have to polish the systems and mechanisms of closely helping priests, of promoting greater transparency both in the personal and institutional levels, of regularly reviewing and improving the formation programs given to seminarians and priests,
There are actually many things that can be done, and I hope that they can be taken up and given due attention and action. In the meantime, we should not forget our duty to pray for everyone, to show compassion especially to those who have caused some scandals even as due justice also has to be made.
We have to learn to have a good grip on our emotions that often can run wild in reaction to problems and scandals in the Church as in anywhere else. At one point, Christ said: “Blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me.” (Mt 11,6)
These words can be interpreted in this way: that we should not be scandalized as Christ bears all the sins of men without compromising the strict demands of holiness. With God’s grace, let us try to comply with these words of Christ!