As Sexual abuse at the hands of priests and bishops has once again come to the attention of the faithful, let us take some time on this Holy Thursday to talk about this important topic. We must first remember, that objectively evil members of the clergy aren’t anything new in Church history. Just look at Holy Thursday for example. On day one in Church history, one bishop of the Catholic Church named Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, handing Him over to the authorities to be crucified; and within a few hours the first pope, Peter, denied Jesus Christ three times!
The only difference between Judas and Peter, is that Peter repented, and became a saint. We do not know if Judas repented before he died when he committed suicide; Only Jesus Christ knows what happened to the soul of Judas.
As Catholics, we must forcefully condemn any abuse done to any human being, regardless of their position in the Catholic Church, and in society, period. Nobody should ever abuse anybody. The problems that we are experiencing dealing with the ongoing sexual abuse crisis within the Catholic Church by the clergy stem from members of the clergy failing to obey the teachings of Christ.
Let’s first keep in mind that the predatory members of the clergy are a miniscule percentage, and that the vast majority are men who live and obey their vows, do great work for Christ, and love their vocation. With this understanding, we must first pray constantly for the victims who have been scarred for life by the evil priests and bishops, and to pray that God will heal these victims, and help them recover from the pain, fear, and loss that they are experiencing. We must also pray every day for the continued holiness of the clergy. We must pray that Christ will continue to bless His bishops, priests, and deacons, and that the clergy will implement the teachings of the Church properly, and proclaim the truths of our faith in season and out of season, never being afraid of being persecuted for teaching the truth.
The Rosary, and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, are two great prayers to help us heal the Church from the fallout from egregious clergy scandal. Coinciding with our prayers is regular fasting and abstinence, as acts of reparation against the sins of abuse perpetrated by the clergy. Jesus told us that prayer is sometimes not enough to push back the forces of evil, and that we at times need to performs acts of fasting and abstinence, in order to be victorious against Lucifer and his followers (Mark 9:28-29). We must also pray for justice for the victims, and that justice be served upon the vile perpetrators of these heinous acts.
I believe that Christ is, during this time of crisis in the Church, using the crisis to teach us to trust His teaching proclaimed in Matthew 16 regarding the gates of Hell not prevailing against the Church. Sadly, many Catholics are not trusting Christ, and are leaving the Church as a result of the actions of these evil clergy. We need to take this time to test our own spiritual fortitude, to see how much we trust Christ. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, this is not the first time the Church has gone through a crisis of having bad members of the clergy. As a Divine institution with billions of humans involved over 2000 years, there are certain to be imperfections, scandals, and the worst crimes imaginable. But at the end of the day, we, the Body of Christ, come out stronger, by purging ourselves of the presence of the Devil.
We must study and understand Church history, in order to identify mistakes of the past, and how we overcame them, so that we do not repeat them, and instead become more perfect as our Father in Heaven is. If we are able to do this and trust in the Lord, we will be stronger in our faith, more vigilant of the incursions of the Devil, and be better able to sanctify the Church; making her a powerful instrument of Christ in the world.
True masculinity upholds, reflects, and teaches by action, the Twelve Righteous Virtues. The sexual abuse proliferation shows us what happens when the virtue of Chastity isn’t lived out. Sadly, bishops, priests, and deacons who sexually abuse people violate what it means to be a Man; and they desecrate their ordination as well. The clergy have been ordained to be like the Good Shepherd, and protect Christ’s flock from the wolves; not become the wolf.
Finally, it is important to remember that though a priest might administer the sacraments in the state of mortal sin; that sacrament is legitimate, and efficacious. The sin committed by a priest is not somehow transferred to the recipient of the sacrament, nor does the sinful priest’s evil actions cancel out the graces within a specific sacrament that is being administered.
During this Holy Thursday, ManHusbandDad’s need to reflect upon how we are leaders in our vocation, and in the world. Are we abusing our positions, overstepping our boundaries, and using other people as pawns for our own personal gain? How do we behave toward women, the elderly, and the vulnerable? Do we see others as sexual objects; something to consume for our own personal gratification? How are we toward children? Do we see children as gifts from God? Even if we do not biologically have children, all children in our lives must be protected, treated as gifts, cherished, and fed wisdom, so that they mature into holy adults who are on fire for Christ.
We need to be like Saint Pope Peter who turned away from sin, and became a powerful leader and witness to Christ; and never be like Bishop Judas, who betrayed Christ for personal gain.
May God bless us, our bishops, priests, and deacons, and most certainly the victims and survivors of all abuses. May the Eternal Father protect us all from the encroachments upon the Body of Christ by Lucifer and his evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. For the sake of Christ’s sorrowful passion, may God have mercy on us, and upon the Church. Mary, Seat of Wisdom, and Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.