Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Little Reading on the Scandals in the Church

Screaming headlines and gossip on various blogs are not very helpful when considering the revelations of the horrible betrayals by the priests and bishops in the Irish and German Catholic church. There is no doubt that, as was done by some American priests and bishops, great evil was done to the innocent. Frankly, it broke my heart to hear about it then and it breaks my heart again to hear about it. I pray for the victims and I pray for the perpetrators.

However, it is also helpful to consider some facts to help offset the scandal mongering and misunderstandings. I recommend reading these three articles which do not excuse the evil done, but do help put things in proper perspective.
The Anchoress also has many more links available should anyone wish to look further.

For myself, I think the greatest value comes in reading below the links (or most of them) where she reveals some of her personal past and her answer to an embittered young man who feels betrayed into wondering if there is any true Christianity at all.

A fair question, and perhaps the one that most vividly portrays the really big picture on how personal sins are never really only about us. Our personal acts of evil (let's say it like it is, right?) always, always affect others. Those ripples flow into places we cannot possibly foresee and affect not only others, but the faith as a whole. In our personal sins we drive others away from Christ. We cannot always see the ripples but that is not the point, should never be the point. That responsibility can now be seen and it is a rock placed on the shoulders of all the faithful. No wonder we need Christ's grace.

No wonder.

This week is Holy Week when our personal sins, our personal evils, drove Christ through His Passion to save us. What better time to reflect upon personal evils and the hurt they do to others? He calls us to repent that we may believe and have eternal life. Let us look with clear eyes to see the cost.


  1. Thanks so much for posting this Julie! This subject has been a hot one in my house. I was raised Catholic and want to raise our two toddler boys in the religion much to my Lutheran husband's chagrin. I just sent him the Huffington post article because I think that is the most unbiased thing I have read on the topic to date. Though it gives me no comfort, I find it very interesting that the rate of schoolteachers who commit this sort of abuse is only slightly lower than the priests. I really hope the church is able to somehow heal this situation as best they can and move forward a modern, healthier institution.

  2. I have to say that this is a subject which boggles my mind, personally. However since long before Judas betrayed Jesus there have been holy men, or those who have been called to be holy, who have grievously betrayed themselves, those who trust them, their faith, and our God. That is reality, no matter what our vocation.

    Also we have to remember that the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints (as I was reminded in reading Mike Aquilina's Fathers of the Church). That means we are going to hurt other people. Although, again, as I say ... this continually boggles my mind to say the least.

  3. What makes me so angry is having to constantly defend the church to other people. I don't mind doing it for reasons of faith, (like when non-Catholics tell me it's wrong to pray to Mary), but in matters like this it's unfair.

  4. Yeah, I getcha ... on the other hand, if there is no one to explain then people just make up their own answers and that's never good. Which I know that you know ...

  5. Julie, those articles were incredibly helpful to me. Thank you for including them.

    I imagine our dear Papa Benedict reading those cases, one after the other, his face sometimes contorted with impotent rage, other times tears rolling down his face. My heart aches for this dear man as it aches for the innocent children who were hurt and ignored all those years.

    Please everyone, remember to pray for our Papa. He needs our help right now.

  6. cdeavers, I don't defend the Church in this at all. What these priests and their superiors did was evil. It is indefensible. I am livid. I had no idea how bad it really was until I read "Losing My Religion" by William Lobdell. Oh my gosh. EVIL.

    For the past several years, I have made sure that my contributions to the Church have been to specific programs that directly benefit my community (the parish's food pantry, for example) and not to anything that would support defending these crimes. If the Vatican has to sell art from the Vatican museum, if every parish has to sell its buildings, so be it.

  7. cf, I understand what you are saying and you are right, it was evil. But my question, I suppose, is this ... what if it was found that the manager of the food pantry you support was using the facilities, money, and power to help in his evil habit of sexual abuse? Do you then stop supporting the food pantry because of one evil person, who hopefully is rooted out and the victims helped? Despite the fact that he covered it up for years while your money was going to help support it?

    I guess my point is that there is no "pure" institution under the sun. Again, I agree that what those people did was evil and should never have been countenanced for any reason. However, I find a lack of logic in your response about not defending the Church as a whole by presenting the facts ... both bad or good.

  8. Julie - I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. Am I supposed to defend the Church, right or wrong? I can't defend what happened. I am very unhappy about how the Church has handled the situation. Read that book. It's beyond heinous what happened to some of these kids. I had no idea. I thought it was somewhat consensual sex between some priests and teenage boys, but it was child rape. Priests fathering children and then not only refusing to support the children but using immoral legal tactics ("I've taken a vow of poverty") to get out of paying child support.

    As far as your example, if my continued donations to the food pantry went to fund the abuser's legal defense, no, I would not contribute any more. I won't support the legal defense of the men who did this. The Church (we) should not be paying the legal fees for these guys.

    That does not mean I won't support the good work the Church does, which is why I designate that my donations be used for very specific programs. I just don't want my money going to support the $450,000 that Rembert Weakland, the former archbishop of Milwaukee, gave to his lover from church funds.

  9. Ahhh, now you are being specific enough that I understand your point, which before made it look to me as if the Church was all to be tossed away, regardless of specific cases of guilt or innocence.

    Now you are clear and I understand.

    I would never say to defend the Church when she is wrong. However, and this is a big however, we must be careful to delineate the cases where she is right as well as when she is wrong. And that was my point. :-)

  10. Oh absolutely! I will always be Catholic - but I love being Catholic enough that I want the Church to do the right thing always.