The past couple of months have been tough for Catholics. Scandal has always existed within the Church, but recent allegations about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report (recounting the abuse of more than 1000 victims by more than 300 priests) have unleashed an unprecedented outpouring of dismay, confusion, and sorrow amongst the faithful. “How could this happen?” we wonder. “How could shepherds entrusted with the care of the Church betray us all in such an egregious way?” Sadly, we acknowledge that those they victimized have suffered – and will continue to suffer – much more than we can ever imagine; they will carry the scars from this abuse for the rest of their lives.
Some have been tempted to turn their backs on the Church in response to the crisis. But, as Fr. Jerome Lavigne pointed out in a recent homily, we do not judge the Church by those who have failed it, but by those who faithfully persevere in living out its teachings. In his video, “The Pennsylvania Sex Abuse Scandal,” Fr. Mike Schmitz challenges us not to leave the Church, but to lead– to be the change that needs to happen within the Church to bring about healing and restoration. Now, more than ever, we need solid Catholics – people who are living their faith authentically – to step forward to help with the work that needs to be done.
“And so,” asks Dr. Ralph Martin, “what can we do as we continue to pray for the pope and our leaders that God may give them the wisdom and courage to deal with the root of the rot and bring about a real renewal of holiness and evangelization in the Church?”1 He writes:
- “We need to go about our daily lives, trying to live each day in a way pleasing to God, loving Him and loving our neighbor, including the neighbor in our own families. We need to look to ourselves, lest we fall.
- “We need to remember that even though we have this treasure in earthen vessels (or as some translations put it, “cracked pots”), the treasure is no less the treasure. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater! Baby Jesus is the treasure, and He is still as present as ever and still as ready to receive all who come to Him. And the Mass! Every day, He is willing to come to us in such a special way. Let’s attend daily Mass even more frequently, to offer the sacrifice of Jesus’ death and resurrection to God the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of souls and the purification of the Church.
- “We need to remember that the Catholic Church is indeed founded by Christ and, despite all problems, has within it the fullness of the means of salvation. Where else can we go? Nowhere; this is indeed our Mother and Home, and she needs our love, our prayers, and our persevering in the way of holiness more than ever.
- “We need to remember that there are many truly holy and dedicated bishops and priests, and we must pray for them and support them. They need and deserve our support.
- “We need to remember that this isn’t the first time such grave problems have beset the Church. In the fourteenth century, St. Catherine of Siena bemoaned the “stench of sin” coming from the papal court and prophesied that even the demons were disgusted by the homosexual activity he had tempted priests into and the cover up by their superiors! (See chapters 124-125 of Catherine of Siena’s The Dialogue.)
“That isn’t to say that we don’t need to take seriously and do all we can in response to the grave scandal we are facing in our time. And yet we need to remember that all this is happening under the providence of God, and He has a plan to bring good out of it. It was even prophesied strongly in Mary’s apparitions in Akita, Japan. Jesus is still Lord and will use the current grave problems to bring about good.
“And finally,” writes Dr. Martin, “I’m beginning to see why the Lord has impressed on me so strongly in the past year the urgent need to heed the appeals of Our Lady of Fatima. Indeed, as Mary said,
“Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”
“Let’s continue to pray and offer sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and as reparation for sin, and let’s pray the rosary daily as Mary requested, for peace in the world and true renewal in the Church.”2
Sharon van der Sloot
1. Nathaniel Lash, “Catholic Church clergy sex abuse: read the full grand jury report” (August 14, 2018), The Inquirer [online newspaper]; available from http://www2.philly.com/philly/news/catholic-church-clergy-sex-abuse-read-the-full-grand-jury-report-20180814.html; Internet; accessed 22 August 2018.
2. Letter of the Holy Father Francis to the People of God, 20.08.2018:
3. Statement by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the findings of the Pennsylvania Investigating Grand Jury
4. President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference and Committee Chairman Response to Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report
1 Dr. Ralph Martin, “Dear Troubled Catholics – a Letter From Ralph Martin About the Current Crisis” (July 31, 2018), Renewal Ministries [Catholic blog]; available from http://www.renewalministries.net/wordpress/category/featured/ralph-martin/; Internet; accessed 22 August 2018. Dr. Martin is the president of Renewal Ministries and director of graduate programs at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit.