Does our faith shine so those with us see that light? Is our faith dimming due to the repeated, never-ending newspaper articles about past abuse of minors and young men by priests with cover-ups occurring in some instances. Perhaps our dimmer switch has been pressed by all this coverage of nefarious behavior.
What doesn’t help are recent statements in a homily given by Pope Francis: “In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser [Satan] has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The 'Great Accuser', as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, 'roams the earth looking for someone to accuse'. A bishop’s strength against the 'Great Accuser' is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction. Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.”
The Pope ends with a prayer, but begins poorly. What about that beginning? Well, for comedian Flip Wilson fans, it’s as if the Pope said, “The Devil made us do it!” I don’t think so. Satan is not attacking bishops. These guilty bishops invited Satan into their lives and then harmed their victims, many grievously.
On September 13 The Boston Globe reported “Bishops ordered to sex-abuse summit: Vatican is forced to acknowledge the crisis is global.” On the same day the Cape Cod Times reported: “Scandal hits diocese of DiNardo.” On September 14 the Globe reported “Pope, US bishops meet as allegations grow: New complaints of coverup aimed at DiNardo.” That article began: “Top American bishops met in the Vatican with Pope Francis on Thursday to discuss the sexual-abuse crisis that the leader of the US church said has ‘lacerated’ the church. That leader, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, was himself accused this week of covering up the actions of an abusive priest in his archdiocese – prompting questions about DiNardo’s fitness to lead reforms.”
So we wait, support our priests who took seriously their sacred vows, and focus on all the good done by our Church. We also wait for our Pope and those who must support him to somehow effectively address world-wide abuse problems dating back many years and whatever might have happened in more recent times. Our prayers will help, but displays of courage by Church leaders will be more effective.
Deacon David Pierce