I actually wrote this on Thursday:
The report is out and I went and had a look, a long look. I haven't had time to read it all. I'm not sure I have the stomach to read it all. It is frightening to recognize the names of abusers and victims and to realise how close one can be to people and not know what they have done or what they may have been through.
It's not the descriptions of abuse, bad enough as they are, but the callousness and indifference of the abusers and even of their superiors that is so disturbing. The priest is meant to be an alter Christus, 'another Christ' and to use the sanctity of the priesthood to abuse children is as the Church calls it 'the worst crime'. To then fail to care for the victim and allow the abuser to continue on...
I am horrified at the pain inflicted by some of my brother priests. Even when you put it in context of the many priests who served in the Archdiocese it remains that if only one child suffered that was one too many. What makes it worse is that the victims were not listened to and many abusers were allowed to continue to abuse. The greatest evil that has resulted is that so many have turned away from Christ because of this.
Is any apology ever going to be enough? How can we ease this sorrow and heal this pain? I think we need a miracle. Bishops resigning might make some people feel better but it's only the continued and consistent implementation of the child protection guidelines that will make the difference to those who matter most: the children.
It is a grim day for the priesthood. On Thursday I took a sixth year class on retreat for the day with another priest. The report did not come up and I don't know how I can communicate my shame and disgust if it ever does while somehow also keeping to the teaching of Jesus: hate the sin but love the sinner.
For the rest of us priests we must seek to be holy, really holy. Enough of this compromise, this fudging of our commitment. One thing the Report says is that Canon Law would've dealt with a lot of these issues sooner had it been employed. If we are men of God let us start to really live that and live it so others can see it clearly. The only way to win back the people's trust is to be trustworthy, to be examples that the whole flock can follow.
This is the year for priests, so please pray for us.
St. John Vianney pray for us.