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?