Like many Catholics, my heart hurts. It hurt years ago for those who we already knew about, including those hurt in the Philadelphia scandal, and the recent report was horrific clarification that made the old wound ache. However, the latest scandal over Cardinal McCarrick is a fresh cut, because it tells us clearly that the hierarchies have not learned their lesson—to be faithful to Christ in all things. Protection of victims before protection of self. Acting to protect the “good name” of the Church is a good way to drag it through the mud.
A cardinal I respected appears to have taken a “not my problem” approach to letters of complaint about McCarrick’s conduct. Abuse is everybody’s problem. Even worse, there are accusations that the pope knew about the peccadilloes of McCarrick and repealed the sanctions against him, and the implications of a far-reaching network to protect and promote active homosexuals within the Church is shocking and obviously demonic. Please, please note that I emphasize active, because sexual orientation is not an issue in celibate priests, and most priests honor that commitment.
It wouldn’t be surprising if many of you said, “How can I possibly tell people that this cesspool is the place where they will find God? How can I speak about the Church with joy?”
Well, you can’t, not if that is how you see it. Let me tell you how I see it.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is purifying His Church.
In the reading from Ezekiel last week, God told us this would happen.
Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who have been pasturing themselves! . . .
I swear I am coming against these shepherds.
I will claim my sheep from them
and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep
so that they may no longer pasture themselves.
I will save my sheep,
that they may no longer be food for their mouths.
Jesus, who founded the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church upon his rock, Peter, is rooting out the evil. We should rejoice that Jesus is keeping His promise. That He is looking out for us.
These wrong-doers have betrayed the trust of the flock and opened up the Church to attack, and her enemies are celebrating.
Actually, it is we who should be celebrating, because the infection has been lanced, and the bad stuff is oozing out, which is a major step toward healing. It’s embarrassing. More than that, it’s horrifying. This is where we must have trust in Jesus, that He is allowing this trial for the sanctity of His people and His Church. Our holiness and God’s mercy are all that matters.
I offer this brief prayer.
You are revealing the wolves in sheep’s clothing. We know it will get worse as your Spirit cleanses the filth that has infiltrated Your Church. Give our good shepherds the courage to stand their ground and defend the flock in the face of attacks, both human and demonic.
Give your sheep the wisdom and fortitude to remain close to you and Mother Church. Keep them from scattering and falling into the pits and traps laid by the enemy.
Bring healing to those lambs who have already suffered abuse at the hands of those who have most foully betrayed their commitment to You.
When the enemy brings confusion and darkness, help us to see Your light and remember the joy that comes from living a Christian life, a joy that is meant to be a witness to others.