A friend in Kansas City and I were chatting last week. I kept the conversation away from the troubles there. But near the end of our talk he said the whole situation remains “a mess.” After today’s news, maybe another maid is needed. Or a whole clean-up crew.
I heard about it today when I pulled into the parking lot of my insurance agent, a quick two-minute piece on NPR. By tonight, the word has hit the Catholic blogosphere in full.
Bishop Finn made a big mistake by his failure to immediately go to the cops with the child porn, and he has handed a weapon to an enemy of the Church to score points against the Church.
The real battle is waged within the heart of a believer, at least the one that counts. One can always choose to engage an exterior enemy by any number of means, violent and otherwise. One can attune one’s inner ears to hear the Word, to listen for the nudge of God, and fold one’s will into the Divine. Or a person, even a bishop, can choose her or his own way.
Bishop Finn’s allies in conservative Catholicism seem deeply dismayed. Some are able to identify the true victims in this sorry episode. Others, not so much. It remains a matter of points scored, like it’s some big ideological debate. Good versus evil does not keep score. Not like a gymnastics meet, boxing match, or a trivia contest.
A person deeply embedded in the culture of the Church thought obsessively of children and used them as sexual objects. A bishop failed to grasp the full gravity of the situation, despite more than ten years of scandals touching the episcopacy, and continued missteps by his brothers. Despite taking a stand as a moral crusader.
On the home front a few days ago, I found the picture of Fr Shawn that the young miss took down from the refrigerator. I was cleaning up in the pantry and in some high places. It was stuck to the bottom of a jar lid. Not for recycling, I threw it out.
I pray for these two men, but I admit the inner difficulty. The antigospel has poked out at my daughter, who knows her favorite priest is now accused of gravely criminal conduct. She knows her friends were among those used by him. Collectively, the Catholic bishops of the Church have a long road back to respectability.