Monday, September 24, 2018

No Devil Made Them Do It

Jesus said to the crowd: "No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away."

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.”

We can expect more of the same in the coming weeks and months.   This is not a witch hunt.  This is not a hunt for Satan.  It’s a hunt for men who over many years disregarded the important fact that they had received the sacrament of Holy Orders.  Therefore, from our Catholic perspective, they had and still have an exceedingly special spiritual and moral obligation.   The bar was raised very high for them at ordination, and then raised even higher when made bishops and even cardinals.

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

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