I am at a monastery praying with a community of monks trying to come to grips with the news concerning the extensive coverup of sexual abuse by bishops and other church authorities in various dioceses Pennsylvania of hundreds priests. I just finished reading some of the details describing the horrible acts these poor children experienced, all at the hands of a trusted priest. Stomach churning. Disgusting. Outrageous.
What truly makes this damaging is the coverup by bishops, the ones who wield the power and close the ranks in secrecy. The image of the church and their position of authority were more important than dealing justly and opening with acts of horrible abuse of God’s most vulnerable: children!! Where is the accountability? Why doesn’t Rome respond boldly and openly, calling bishops to face the truth, their truth in covering up this scourge. The first response of cardinal Wuerl was to acknowledge how disappointed some may be by how he handled abuse issues but that everyone knows he did his best to address this problem, which can be seen by his actions and statements. Really??? What a dismissive response.
I’m waiting for the Pope, the only one who has the authority to discipline and remove a bishop, who needs to come out NOW with more than statements and apologies. He needs to find a way to openly discuss the closed clerical caste system regarding who is ordained, how bishops and pastors are chosen, and the incorporation of the laity into the hierarchical structures with authority. If we have to have a hierarchy, then the theology must be developed such that those who are not ordained, women and men, will be a constitutive part of the structures. Something has to change and only the Pope can get the ball rolling. If he can’t or won’t do this, what’s the point of even having a Pope?
On another point, how can we go through Renew My Church and launch a process of evangelization with a horrible cloud over the church? How do we attract new people to the faith if there is such moral decay in the institutional structures?
In our prayer our hearts must go to the countless victims whose lives have been so shattered. I admire the courage of these people to stand tall and speak truth to such an abuse of power by many of our bishops. May they find peace and somehow be able to forgive these sins against the dignity of their humanity. I hope they can become free of the horrible memories given them by “priests”, men who are supposed be instruments of God’s love.
I can’t say much more. I can only pray that the Holy Spirit breath the fire of repentance , renewal and transformation on the Church and her leaders.
Peace. Fr. Frank