Hey, all. I’m taking a break from my regularly-scheduled nerdy theology to talk about the latest revelations about the abuse of minors in the Catholic Church. This is not because I want to discuss these things, but it is my sacred duty to do so as a theologian, a youth minister, and a human being.
As some of you doubtless know, I’m currently stationed in Pennsylvania, where a great number of people have been affected by sins that were swept under the rug for too long. It shames and angers me that the Church herself was not the one to come forward with this report. It is our obligation to speak the truth, no matter how ugly and damning that truth is, and the fact that this was not done is an abominable crime tantamount to collusion with those who harmed the vulnerable we trusted them to protect. It is a deep and unforgivable betrayal of trust that we as a Church have to face with more than saddened hearts, more than apologies.
Apologies will not conquer the evil that was done within our ranks. A stalwart commitment to truth and virtue will.
To our laypeople, I beg of you not to equate the love God has for you with the actions of evil men. We are at war, and the atrocities of war too often result in crimes against the innocent. You are justified in your anger, your pain, your confusion. But please, do not forget that Christ died for you, that the Church remains His. He is not the wicked stewards of his flock, and He will punish those who have harmed us in the end. Good will triumph over evil. With His death, good already has. And there will be no prisoners in this war.
To my fellow workers in the fields, my fellow footsoldiers in the trenches, I must remind you that now, more than ever, we must be strong, virtuous, and brave. Our people need us to live as examples of holiness, to remind them that there is so much good to be found here in the Church. We have to be loving, patient, and willing to offer whatever we can to help those who have been so badly betrayed by those in authority over us. We are the front lines. We have to do our duty and hold fast, even while our own hearts burn and bleed with righteous anger. Never forget that we are the bearers of truth to our people, vessels of God’s love to them. It will not be a fun time to work for the Church, but we cannot abandon our posts now.
To the men of our clergy who are innocent of these crimes, I can offer only my deepest sorrow for you. There is nothing worse than being betrayed by your own shield-brother, to be looked at with untrusting eyes when you have done nothing wrong. We the faithful love you. We are praying for you. Stay strong, and give us the leadership we need to navigate the coming trials.
To the guilty, I pray for your souls. What you have done can bring nothing good upon you. You’ve tied the millstones around your own necks, and have only the mercy of the God you betrayed to rely on now. May your names stand as a reminder that those who are guilty will no longer be protected.
And finally, to those victims who have suffered in silence for so long: we hear you. We are listening. And we, the soldiers of God, will do all we can for you. There is no apology great enough to undo what you have endured. But may Christ bring you the peace which was stolen from you. You have a right to be angry at how long your pain has gone unrecognized. I pray that, through the Grace of God, you will be healed. You are so deeply loved. And your torment will no longer go unanswered.
The Devil tries to destroy the Church from within, as he has tried to destroy her since the beginning, by twisting the desires and wills of men.
But we belong not to men, but to God. And with Him at the helm we will endure. We will survive. And we will crush the enemy in whatever form he takes.
Love Conquers All. The Love which is God is not mere emotion. It is the most powerful force in the universe. And it will suffer no secrets to lurk in the shadows. Everything must, and will come to light. And the pure divine Love will burn away the foul stain of sin once and for all.
Have hope. Do not surrender. And, for the sake of us all, never stop speaking the truth.