There is a lot of talk lately, about the number of people leaving the church because of the scandal that has resulted from the victimization of children and others, by priests, and the covering up of these criminals by many bishops. Many bishops.
Those crimes cut me to the core. When I think about the monstrous evil that has been perpetrated pretty much in every corner of the world, and throughout the centuries, it is hard to even imagine.
Dwelling on it makes me ill, and I am inclined to shut out the horrific thoughts. However, it isn't fair to shut them out. It isn't fair to the victims, and it isn't fair to the Church.
Our Lord went to the cross with the sins of these monsters on His shoulders, and we need to offer up our own sacrifices with His. Our pain can be united to the suffering of Christ to in some way mitigate the effects that come from this wickedness.
Of course we are furious. We feel blindsided and powerless, and it seems like there is no place to take these emotions. They are legitimate and need to be expressed.
What I think is being misunderstood however, is the proper placement of our anger and frustration.
People see the Church as an organization or an institution, and while it has many of those qualities, it is actually more than any of them. The Church is something that is outside and beyond anything that has ever existed in this world, and it can't be defined in worldy terms. The best possible comparison, in our terms, would be a family. A huge family with Christ as the Head and the whole Church, Triumphant, Suffering and Militant, as His bride. We are members of the Church as there are members in a family. Different people have different places in the family, different responsibilities.
In every family, some more than others, there are those that struggle, those that fail, and some that are just plain bad apples.
Sometimes the people who have been entrusted with the most, fall in the most dispicable ways. For the people that they fail there is tragedy. They are hurt, they are abandoned, they become unable to trust. And that is a horrible fact.
The Church has some of those awful people in it. It has it's share of bad apples, and those bad apples hurt people. When they are the people that we look to as Fathers, it is even worse. The children are left with pain and distrust and lifelong scars.
But when a father and husband fails his family. When there is abuse or neglect, that is the time for the family to come together. When dad is a jerk and hurts your family, betrays your mother, or leaves, you come to the defense of your mother, and you are there for your brothers and sisters. You stay close and you heal together. That is what families do.
These men have cheated on the church, and have wounded her. They have not upheld their vows, or they have committed outright crimes. And sometimes the people who were supposed to be there to hold them to account have failed as well. They have chosen power and prestige over the good of the family. They have tried to keep the crimes out of sight so that the neighbors won't find out, so that they won't be embarrassed, so that they can hang on to their positions, or in the hopes that the whole thing will just blow over.
This is murderously wrong. These men are not behaving like fathers and they need to be held to account as much as the predators should be.
Our Mother needs us. She is the bride of Christ, and right now she is bruised and broken. She needs to be loved and comforted by her children. She needs us close to her.
We can't turn back the clock, but we can try to support those that have been hurt, and we can work to be sure that light is shed in every corner of the whole Church. It's time for all of us to attend to the suffering. Evil won't triumph, we have that on good authority, but it is for us to walk with the wounded.
This Bride will heal. She is destined for the Wedding feast of the Lamb and nothing will keep her from it. Her children will sit at the table and her Beloved will shower her with Graces.
Those who have stood by her in the bad times will celebrate with her at her triumph.
Hang on Children. Stick with her. He won't let us down.