Dust of a Saturday

James Martin summarizes the sex abuse cover-up as well as I’ve seen in a relatively short space at HuffPo. I began browsing the comments there. It’s difficult, but a worthwhile read to see what the world is saying. Especially for St Bloggers who never get out of their internet Catholic ghetto. As I was reflecting a bit on the RCIA post this morning and considering the series, I was considering another impact we probably have yet to see.

A few years ago, my Kansas City pastor complained to our RCIA director: why did we have so few candidates compared to his previous parish? He wasn’t getting around the diocese too much, clearly. Numbers of newcomers had really slipped in most parishes. I hope they’re doing better this year.

The fallout from European, Brazilian, and American revelations: what do you suppose it will be on the membership front? Catholics speak and write of their disgust–and not all can be attributed to embittered believers looking for an excuse to jump ship. One of the most loyal believers you can know is thinking this is deeper, more disgusting than simple dust.

Behavior of prelates is part of the Church’s public witness to the world. The pope is the face of the Catholic Church, and people note him as they would a coach, leading actor, or star player on the team. A drop in poll numbers translates to more than a loss of bankability. The mission of the Church is far more ambitious than raking in endorsements and championships.

I hope there’s an awareness in the hierarchy that this does affect evangelization. It’s more than just self-absorbed clergy musing on being kicked and persecuted. Martyrdom and suffering are common enough in the world; one doesn’t need to seek them out or exaggerate them.

Leaving them aside, it might be time for the Church–universal and national conferences–to consider initiatives surpassing MR3 in scope and energy. Obviously, bishops who have shuttled predators need to come clean. And likely, lay people need to be in charge of present and future efforts to protect innocents. Bishops are pastors, and part of their role must be to reach out personally to victims. Other than this, I have only a vague sense something substantive must be done.

What do you think? Do we need to do something proactive? Or is it time to circle the wagons?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Dust of a Saturday

  1. Mike K says:

    Circling the wagons accomplishes nothing.

    Pope Benedict needs our prayers. Every bishop and priest needs our prayers. But I read on some blogs of a near-total adulation for our Holy Father, speaking as if he could no wrong in any matter.

    We need to remember that the Holy Father is infallible in matters related to the Faith – and only in matters related to the Faith – because he’s guided by the Holy Spirit.

    I really believe Father Z’s comments are true – this is a period of penance and humility, both for the hierarchy and the laity. Just as our Lord overcame sin and death, the Church will overcome this. It’s not the first scandal in the Church’s history, and it won’t be the last.

    And – you might ask – why does the media “keep picking on us”? Well, when we speak of holding ourselves to a higher standard, when our priests and religious give up sexual pleasure for a higher calling, when we speak of having the fullness of Truth – we will be challenged, especially in this day and age. And when we fail as a Church, many will point at us and call us hypocrites.

    Rather than looking at this as an “us vs. them” situation, a more positive approach would be to strive to do better in all areas (not just to change the liturgy or try to go back to the way things were before Vatican II). Our seminarians must be examined and taught better. Couples must follow the faith – including on “bedroom issues” and raise their children in the faith. Bishops must ensure they protect all the sheep in their flock, not just the “sons.”

    As a Church, we have to be patient – and in our soundbite and instant gratification society, that may be hard. But with patience and perseverance, we will overcome this challenge and emerge stronger. We will – hopefully – learn from our mistakes and do better.

  2. Tony says:

    We need to forget this distraction, and concentrate on bringing the Gospel to the world as best we can.

    Those who hate us will continue to hate us. Many of those who hate us work for news organizations. Our replies will either not get out, or will be twisted, either way a waste of time.

    I say ignore the story (except for ministering to the victims, internally disciplining priests and enabling bishops, and strengthening our child protection programs).

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