This past week's revelations about the Catholic Church are shocking. They stir up anger. The church’s credibility is attacked in every way. We should be angry that we have been betrayed. This reminds of Judas who betrayed Jesus, the high priest. Jesus is the first and only perfect priest.
We are the secondary victims of abuse. It is embarrassing, disgraceful and shameful that priests have violated their position of authority, and turned against the church. WE should ask questions. Asking questions is a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit. Thomas, the Apostle, asked questions and so should we. How did all this happen? Why is it that this came forward because of a grand jury report? Why didn't the church disclose all the information it had? Where do we go from here?
First, we must repent. Like the Prodigal Son in the Gospel, we have squandered our resources, we have squandered our trust. We must find our way back to God the Father and ask for forgiveness.
Things could get worse before they get better. There may be more revelations, and there may be more pain and sorrow and shame. This is a time that God wishes to purge- to clean up the church.
This is a time we need to restore our relationships. Archbishop Lori has sent out a letter to the priest calling for open discussion. I sent a letter to Archbishop Lori. Father Austin and I will continue to speak out.
Growing up Catholic, I went to St Matthew School and then Loyola High School. I was not aware of any of these issues. I had heard of a priest in the 80’s who was removed and he lost his priestly privileges. Even when I attended Saint Mary's Seminary in 2008, I had only heard rumors about what it happened 30 or 40 years ago. I have not known and do not know anyone who has been directly abused.
If you know of someone, or even if someone hints about it, please encourage them to come forward with no embarrassment, and in confidence. Please call 866-417-7469. This is a confidential call. If the Church was not listening before, we are now. Remember that most victims blame themselves, but we are not blaming the victims. They can come forward without fear.
We need complete transparency. The laity, the non-clergy members of the church, will have to step forward. The Bishops have not been able to resolve the issue. All people in the Church need to come forward. In the Second Vatican Council, there was a Decree on the Laity which said that all people are called to holiness. Not just priests or nuns. That was 50 years ago. God has given us a lot of preparation time. Now, is the time to put that learning to use.
As with all things in life, God can create good from even the worst possible situation. Maybe it's time for that to happen in the church. We do know that as prodigal sons and daughters, God will never refuse a plea for forgiveness that is heartfelt and sincere.
Repentance is important not only for us, but for our children and our grandchildren. We have obligation to teach our children and grandchildren. We may not always be able to defend the priests and the Bishops, but we can defend church teaching, especially the Eucharist, which we celebrate today, and which we hear in the Gospel.
We can think of St. Francis of Assisi, when God told him - “Go. Rebuild my church.” He was not a priest. He was not a Franciscan. He spoke out. St. Catherine of Siena in the fourteenth century wrote to the Pope and said to clean up the church. Good came out of evil. Today, as we pray for wisdom in the church, we are reminded that it is the Holy Spirit who consecrates the Bread and Wine. Priests are sinners .
If you know of someone who is angry at the church, or who has decided not to come back, please extend our apology and an invitation to return to a much stronger and open Church.