PASTORAL THOUGHT

11-18-18

 

            I need to talk with you once more about the crisis in the Catholic Church regarding the cover-up of sexual abuse of minors. We have heard the reports and the allegations, and a climate of mistrust of Church authority has affected many Catholic people, particularly the modern generation.

            Anger is a valid response. Protecting the public image of “the Church” led some bishops to allow pedophile priests to wreak havoc. Hurt and anger at the violation of innocent lives and at the coverup is a healthy response by any faithful Catholic. I felt this back in 2002 and since. After some years as a priest, talking with middle-aged adults about their trauma from childhood abuse, gave me first-hand experience of its devastation.

            Today I feel sorrow (which is hopeful) and sadness (which is not). Sorrow and anger can lead us to hope, to courage and then to action. Action to re-form the structures of the Church which allowed evil to creep in.

            The Catholic Church, together with all baptized Christians is The Body of Christ. We do not follow Jesus by cutting ourselves off from his Body. If the Body, in its earthly members, is weak and sinful, we must pursue conversion and reform. This is faith in Jesus.

            I think the Catholic Church needs to have lay people, men and women, in certain decision-making roles, where the authority of bishops and priests will not forbid the pursuit of justice, as in the case of not only sexual abuse, but also in finances.

            Pope Francis has clearly stated that authority in the Church is too centralized. American bishops should—when necessary—discipline fellow bishops, not leave it to “higher authority”. (“If your brother sins, go and talk to him…” Matthew 18). Much else would flow from this….

            But enough. Happy Thanksgiving.  Families get angry at members’ wrongdoings. Then they take steps to correct it and reconcile. Silence and separation are not what God wants of us.

                                                                                                                        Father John Hynes