Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Letter to a Suffering Church by Bishop Robert Barron


This book is a cri de coeur, a cry from the heart. I am a lifelong Catholic, and I've been a priest for thirty-three years and a bishop for four years. I have dedicated my life to the Church. The sexual abuse scandal has been for me, for millions of other Catholics, and especially for the victim-survivors, lacerating. I have written this book for my fellow Catholics who feel, understandably, demoralized, scandalized, angry beyond words, and ready to quit. What I finally urge my brothers and sisters in the Church to do is to stay and fight — and to do so on behalf of themselves and their families, but especially on behalf of those who have suffered so grievously at the hands of wicked men. Of course, I’m also happy if those outside the Church find some illumination in these chapters as well.

I want to be clear about something from the outset: I am not speaking in the name of my brother bishops, or of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, or of the Vatican. I have no authority whatsoever to do so. I am speaking in my own name, as a Catholic, a priest, and a bishop. My prayer is that these reflections might encourage Catholics who are attempting to navigate today in very choppy waters.
The Vatican, USCCB, and other bishops should be so lucky as to have Bishop Barron's book speaking for them. If they are wise they will embrace it and get copies into the hands of their congregations. Robert Barron gives not only a cry from the heart but perspective and counsel which both encourage and console.

This little book doesn't take long to read but it's packed with food for thought and gives historical and scriptural perspective. That may make it sound a bit detached or trite. Letter to a Suffering Church is anything but.

Barron condemns the wicked — it's been too long since I heard that word applied to the priests who violated the souls and bodies of their victims. He offers understanding and solace to those victims. He reminds us that the Church has been dragged through the dregs of corruption by the clergy before and of the fight it took to cleanse it.

Above all Barron offers inspiration and a fighting spirit as he encourages Catholics to stay and fight for the Church to be what Christ calls her to be — a pure source of Truth for a world crying out for God and love. Even though the world may laugh at that idea right now.

I'll be rereading this book for my own future inspiration moving forward. I strongly recommend it for all of you too.

This book is only a dollar a copy so it can become widely accessible, with all proceeds going to organizations that support sexual abuse victims. Order it here. Parish resources are here.

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