Last week the Christian world was once again rocked with the grand jury testimony from Pennsylvania that over 300 Catholic Priests sexually abused children and the Catholic Church helped cover it up. Sadly, this is not the first time the Catholic Church has been rocked by such scandals. Having lived through a similar scandal in Ireland, and as a former Catholic (note: please continue reading if you are a Catholic as I don't have an ax to grind), I wanted to offer some advice for all concerned in the hope it can be handled differently this time.
When you hear some of the horrific details from the grand jury, the easiest emotion to feel is anger and hatred. I totally understand that and I join you. If you are abusing and raping poor innocent kids, I think you are vile, evil, and pure SCUM. I put you in the same category as other evil people who preyed on innocent people like Hitler, Stalin, ISIS, Mao or Pot. This is an absolute for me regardless of the position you hold in society – I don't care about your race, your gender, your sexuality nor your religion. There is no excuse.
I have no problem admitting that my feelings are rather extreme towards people who abuse kids in this manner. I do my best to live a peaceful life and follow Christ, but on issues like this I really struggle. Personally, I would love to have ten minutes alone with them in a cell and afterward send them to be castrated. I believe society needs to send a clear message to everyone that abusing kids is off limits and there is a mega price to pay if you cross that line.
Anger (righteous or otherwise) is a very easy emotion and it is on display by many in this case and on social media every day. Love is a harder emotion to follow and share in society. The first priority from these horrific cases in PA must be to show warmth, compassion, and love to the victims. Help them on the road to recovery (or as close to a recovery as is possible). Whether you are Catholic, Christian, Jew, Atheist, Muslim, Republican or Democrat, we must listen to them, help and support them in their time of need. I don't know if one can truly recover from such abuse, but we must be there for them as they start to relive their experiences and do everything possible to ensure their lives are not defined by those experiences, but rather help them to hope for a brighter future.
The future of the Catholic Church is once again in question and its actions / inactions going forward will determine its future. It is clear that part of the Catholic Church is rotten and that rot needs to be removed before it infects and destroys all of the Catholic Church and maybe start to affect the role of other religions within Christianity.
Do I expect them to come out like me and support castration? NO, but they all need to come out and, in the strongest possible terms, denounce this behavior as evil; that any priest that is guilty is no longer worthy to be a shepherd of a flock, celebrate the consecration and give out communion. While this needs to start at the top with Pope Francis (and will require more than one written statement) it should also come at every opportunity from every member of clergy including cardinals, bishops and priests. Every member of the Catholic Church should demand it. Let us never forget the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
All Catholics Are Evil???
In 2018, we live in a world where we love to dehumanize the individual and make wide-ranging generalizations. It would be very easy to judge the priorities of this current Pope, to look at the history of abuse within the Catholic Church, and to say all Catholics are evil and that the Catholic Church sucks. If you are tempted to think this, let me ask you a couple of very direct questions.
- Can you show me a section of society that has been more vocal and supportive of the pro-life movement around the world?
- Can you show me any generalization (from any part of the world or at any time in history) that was ever factually proven to be true? I would love you to find 2 people who agree on everything, let alone 1.2 billion people who identify as Catholic in this world.
- Lastly, when you attack all Catholics and say they are all the same – what do you see as the end result?
It is our job as Christians and as members of the human race to love and support each other, but also let the truth be our guide. If we simply attack all Catholics as being the same, they will likely do what they did in Ireland – get defensive – because they feel personally attacked (you will also notice others use this as a vehicle to attack the Church and God in general). Personal attacks will make them remain quiet in the face of this evil, because if you are being attacked from all sides of society, why would you add to it? This path will lead people to choose one of two options; they will either remain loyal to the Church; and the more we "attack" the more stubborn they will become, or, they will simply leave.
My First Big Concern
The biggest concern I have is for Catholics living in America (and around the world) who's faith has been shaken by this horrific news.
- Do Catholics know the line that exists between man-made Catholic religion and God?
- Do Catholics understand that man, being deeply flawed, let this happen and not God?
- Do Catholics know God is weeping right now at what is happening to His children?
In Ireland, the sexual abuse scandal rocked the Church and was the catalyst for many to leave the Church and turn their backs on God. Sadly, many of those Catholics did not understand the line and the difference between the Catholic Church and God. One is divine and perfect and the other is man-made, therefore deeply flawed and imperfect.
If we are Christian (or Jewish), we must do our best to explain the job of religion – it is purely a vehicle to get us close to God and be a part of His family on Earth. If that vehicle is no longer doing its job, that does not mean God is not great, or that He does not exist, or that God approves of these evil actions – it means it's time to find another vehicle to get closer to God.
I can only hope and pray that members of other Christian religions do not see this as an "opportunity" to grow the ranks for their religion. The aim for all of us is to bring people closer to God and Christ and grow His influence through actions, not to get more people in the pews of our chosen religion.
My second concern is a more generalized one. If you look around at our world today, you will see many battles highlighted – left versus right, rich versus poor, black versus white, man versus women, and gay versus straight. While they all merit some discussion, they all pale in comparison to the biggest battle we all face in society today – Good versus Evil.
We can see evil growing in our society every day, but where is good growing? Who are the people shining the light for good? Where has common decency gone? Where has the respect gone for those who have a different opinion than you? If you believe and have faith in God and or Jesus Christ, that is your duty and responsibility. In this dark world we need more people like John the Baptist testifying to the lights' greatness and living a life worthy of remembering. If sections of Christianity start to turn dark or be silent in the face of evil darkness, who can and who will take their place?
I personally hope the Catholic Church purges this evil from within its ranks. While I personally do not believe in the theology of Catholicism, I have seen the good the Catholic Church has done ranging from the pro-life movement to the role of Pope John Paul II during the Cold War. I believe a strong, healthy, vibrant Catholic Church can play a major role in the body of Christianity in our world.
I believe the future of our world can be extremely bright and we can live freer and more prosperous than ever before. However, for that to happen, I believe it starts with Christians uniting around the principles that God and Jesus taught us in the Bible and not telling others how to live, but rather showing them by example!