Sunday, September 23, 2018

ON THE PRESENT CRISIS IN THE CHURCH a homily for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday, Year B (Mark 9:30–37)

When I read that line “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me”  I was immediately reminded of that other verse “whoever causes one of these little ones to sin it would be better for him to have a millstone tied about his neck and for him to be thrown into the sea.”  Our Lord also obviously means to include in that curse anyone who deliberately and seriously sins against a child.  That curse would logically include anyone that covers up such abuse.  So I must apologise to anyone here who is the victim of abuse, especially child abuse.  I cannot imagine what you have suffered but part of the process of ensuring that such abuse does not happen again or at least that it is dealt with swiftly and properly when it does is reminding everyone just how seriously wrong child abuse is.  By this means we may begin to ensure that your suffering was not in vain.

I don’t know to what degree you are aware of the current crisis and scandals in the Church.  It seems today that there are so many but the media coverage is uneven and unbalanced.  For those who are not aware I will briefly summarize what has been happening.  Earlier in the Summer an American Grand Jury issued its report into six American dioceses and listed, from the past 70 years,  300 priests against whom they were credible allegations of abuse against over a thousand minors.  There was extensive cover-ups.  Some of this abuse was quite recent.  Bishops still in office were involved in those cover-ups.  This has lead to many states in the US starting their own investigations.  In addition the most senior churchman in America, now ex-Cardinal McCarrick was exposed as a serial abuser of boys and young men, especially seminarians and priests.  This was, apparently, widely known in certain quarters even in Rome, even at the very top.  Pope Benedict tried to do something but was thwarted. 
This scandal is not confined to the US.  There have been similar scandals not only in Chile, but in Argentina, Nicaragua, India, Italy, Holland, Germany etc.  Again and again the statistics show over 80% of the victims are adolescent boys and young men, that is, the abuse is not primarily directed against young children, those who have not yet reached puberty nor against girls and young women.  One can only conclude that we are looking at homosexual predation on young males.  Worse it was organised and it was covered up.
More recently a former papal nuncio, Archbishop Vigano, alleged that the Church, including various bishops and cardinals, was riddled with a homosexual mafia who were actively involved in covering up abuse.  He claims that this was made known to the present Holy Father and nothing was done about it.  I cannot verify these allegations but others have come forward to affirm both Vigano’s integrity and the truth of his claims.  
When one thinks back to all that Irish Catholics have endured due to the crimes of certain priests and religious, the pain of victims and their families, those scandalised, those whose faith has been undermined, whose salvation has been jeopardised, I can only conclude that for all the publicity that  those events incurred no one was listening.  
How could this happen? How can men dedicated to God be guilty of such crimes? To answer that we need go no further than a verse or two earlier in our passage when we are told that the disciples had been discussing “who was the greatest.”  When God’s word is ignored, when self-interest and self-glorification are allowed to triumph over God’s call then scandal becomes possible.  The great Cardinal Burke has said that ‘where there is a want of chastity there is a want of obedience.’ There has been a great want of obedience in the Church, especially among certain clergy and religious and from it has flowed this evil. The prophets of the Old Testament railed against those shepherds who pastured themselves on their sheep, that is, who put their own interests before the welfare of God’s people.  Our Lord teaches us that His way is a way of self-emptying, a way of and through the Cross not a way of domination.  When men see in the priesthood a career move, a place to hide from questions about their sexuality, or worse a means to gain access to vulnerable persons, then we have a recipe for great evil and harm.  A culture of secrecy and blackmail can easily develop and power abused to try and protect immoral persons from facing up to their crimes.  I don’t know if similar evil is active here in the Irish Church.  I hope not.
One wonders whether any of these men have any real faith at all!  Do they never think that they will have to stand before the Judgment Seat of God and give an account of their lives and ministry? It causes me to beg for mercy when I consider my own Judgment! How will they explain such abuse, such cover-ups?  There is a disturbing video online from an Italian documentary (it seems that Italian and German media are well ahead of the English speaking media on this) in which an abuser is interviewed by means of a hidden camera.  It seems that in his mind the abuse was all a joke, a bit of messing about, not serious, not a moral issue!  How twisted must one’s thinking be to think that way?  I am reminded of the line from the book of Daniel “you have grown old in wickedness.”
There is much more but I have said enough.  Church militant is one site that is giving these events exstensive coverage. I warn you that if you go researching these events you will need strong faith and at times a strong stomach.  So much of what has been done to these boys is truly demonic. 

We are only ‘foot soldiers,’ mere plebs, so what are we to do?  The price of peace is eternal vigilance it is said.  We must keep an eye out for any suspicious activity around not only children but around teenagers and even adults under the power of others.  Think of all the stuff that came out around Harvey Weinstein.  Do you think he’s the only man in a position of power to abuse that position?  Be vigilant and listen to anyone who comes to you with a complaint.  Let us not make the mistakes of the past and dismiss the victims.
I think our Lady tried to warn us at Fatima and again at Akita.  She has asked that we live   good and holy lives by doing the duties of our state of life, confession our sins regularly, devoutly receiving Holy Communion at Mass in a state of grace, praying the rosary, making acts of reparation and promoting devotion to her Immaculate Heart.  She promised her protection to those who did these things and I believe that if we take them up again she will bring get great graces for us and the Church.  She will heal what seems beyond all healing and bring peace to the Church and the world.


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