A few years ago I broke my back.
I spent a month in the hospital recovering, learning to perform basic actions like walking again. Getting out and getting home was one of the greatest reliefs of my life. About a week after that I came down with a serious flu. I had the chills, I was nauseated, and I had a terrible fever. On the fifth day, I started feeling a bit better, but my back started feeling wet. My wife took me in to the doctor and my back had puss oozing out of it. They admitted me back to the hospital because it turns out I didn’t have the flu, but a nasty staph infection. Liters of puss leaked out of my surgical site.
And so I prepared for another surgery. The doctors had to open up my back again and surgically remove the infection. But that wasn’t enough. If any of that infection penetrated deeper into to body, there could be more serious complications.They had put in a PICC line into my veins, which is like an IV port. For the next several weeks, I would have to administer intravenous antibiotics into my body three times a day. The whole experience was an ordeal that I do not wish to repeat any time soon.
Why have just described this traumatic illness to you in such graphic terms?
Because that is what is happening and must happen regarding the current clergy scandal.
A rot has seeped into the Body of Christ. We have always had sinners in our Church. It is a reality of human imperfection. But the abusive evil that worked its way up to such high levels of our clergy is truly sickening. This infection may have entered with possibly noble intention, just as my surgeon intended to cure me and not infect me. Maybe there was too heavy an acceptance on human sinfulness in an attempt to be inclusive and merciful. Regardless, the infection took hold
And we can see the effects of that infection. We can see it in the sickness of our Church. The teachings of Christ and the presence of the sacraments has not changed. And yet the Church in the West is dwindling. Part of the reason is that this sickness, this infection has affected the entire body of Christ.
The scandal is not the sickness itself, it is only the disgusting discharge of sin brought to light. These crimes have been going on for a long time, so the Church has had this infection for a while. Only now are they being made even more public and the stench of the rot hits us like a ton of bricks. But the shock of disgust can not prompt us to action.
The first thing that must happen is that the rot must be uprooted. We are past simple policy changes. There must occur, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a complete removal of this culture from the Church. Not only must the perpetrators of these crimes be held accountable, but those who enabled them to flourish and spread their toxicity must also be removed. We need to cut deep and this will cause a lot of hurt, just as any surgery will. But it is necessary to get at the infection.
But there must be a second thing after the surgery: the treatment. Just as they needed to flood my body with antibiotics, so too we need to flood the Church with the grace of God. We need to fill every cell of the Body of Christ with a deeper and more pervasive prayer life. We need to return even more to the spiritual practices, public and private, that helped define our Catholic culture.
How many schools do Eucharistic processions?
How many families pray the rosary together?
We need to reclaim our Catholic identity in all areas of life. From this culture, God can call forth men to the priesthood who have had an interior and exterior experience of Catholic life in their formative years. No, these men will not be perfect. And yes, there are still many wonderful and holy priests serving us now. But the rot entered in because we allowed it. Now we have to cure it.
If we do this, we can eradicate the rot of the clergy scandal.
Copyright 2018, WL Grayson