Thursday, March 25, 2010

Finger in the Dike - The Crisis Grows

Day by day, the news stories concerning clergy sexual abuse continue to multiple; spreading country by country. News organizations, smelling blood, are digging deeper and deeper, uncovering further cover ups by bishops of the crimes committed by priests under their jurisdiction. Concerned more with protecting the image of the institution rather than with people; they are finding that their attempts to plug the holes are failing. The cracks are growing, and soon the stone wall will collapse, and the flood will come. The question is how much of the Church and its works will be washed away.

As the bishops in this country have learned, the bishops of Ireland and Germany will find that as horrendous as the crime committed by pedophile priests may be, what is upsetting people the most is the fact that the shepherds they trusted to protect them and their children have failed.

I love the Church with all my heart, and it now feels broken. Our Secular Franciscan Rule calls us to “devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialogue of apostolic effectiveness and creativity” (Art. 6b), but it is hard to feel in “full communion,” when one feels betrayed. It is hard to believe that “an open and trusting dialogue” is possible, when the bishops do not listen to us, do not hear our concerns and warnings. The only thing that continues to give me hope is that I see the Gospel is still being lived in my own parish and my Franciscan community.

The Holy Father and our bishops throughout the world need to address this crisis, which is appearing to be systemic. It is a crisis that calls for an honest self examination, and the courage to contemplate changes in the clergy and in Church governance. It at least calls for an extraordinary world synod of bishops, with open discussion. If this fails to happen, the harm to the life of the Church will be great; further weakening its influence in the world, at a time when the world needs to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ; and see it lived in people’s lives.

1 comment:

  1. Brother, you've given me plenty of food for thought. I will join you in prayer for our Church.