Much is being made of the pope not meeting with Mexican abuse victims. Patricio Cerda, who works with victims, strikes a pessimistic tone:
In my opinion it is sad, on the one hand, because Benedict XVI is expected to be more than ‘politically correct’ – he is expected to be a true pastor. On the other hand, the cardinals have their own interests at stake, including the Primate of Mexico (Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera), who defended Maciel to the end. Those directly victimized by the founder do not want to become pawns in what amounts to nothing more than a media game.
Political correctness–the worst sense of that term–can run both ways. There’s a certain pc-strain in churchmen who want nothing more for this scandal of abuse and cover-up to go away. Why does it have to drag on past the obligatory fifteen minutes? This nipping at the heels might well devour good efforts in the new evangelization.
But rather than view the situation in defensive terms, the Church could look upon this as an opportunity. Rather than an annoyance, it presents an opening to develop an apostolate or reconciliation, prayer, and giving a good example of asking forgiveness. Maybe the time is no longer ripe for evangelization–at least as the cover-story initiative of Rome. Maybe it’s time for penitence, sacrifice, and contrition.
Think about it: If the pope can’t himself tour the world to the sex-abuse hotspots of Kansas City, Philadelphia, the Netherlands, and the Maciel compound, send some people who will. To heck with the lawyers and just meet simply with the victims. Apologize. Pray. Meet till the anger and betrayal is talked out. Send a bishop or two, too. Better for them to get out an actually minister to harmed people rather than hole up in an Italian basilica.
When helping the young miss clean up her room last week, we uncovered a photo my wife took of her with one of Kansas City’s accused priests. Her “favorite” priest. Until last summer. It was a happier time, but when demons were sub-surface–and who would know from looking at the smiles what lay beneath them?
With our daughter’s permission, I was considering sending the image to Bishop Finn. And adding a tale about a young person who, last year, was still talking about being an altar server. And who now, won’t pick up the MR3 sheet in the pew, and put all the bishop trading cards from NCYC in the trash with that other photo. One of my staff colleagues tried to console me with the thought that “It could also be the age.” And it could be. But I have enough doubt about it to be troubled. Anyway, the post idea is trashed for now–literally. The young miss was only disappointed she didn’t think about burning the photo before tossing it away.
It may yet be that Pope Benedict will carve out some time for victims in his trip to Mexico. He could do worse.