Sex abuse scandal and the Church

St John Bosco had a vision of the future struggles of the church as a large ship being tossed about by waves and enemy attacks. Yet the ship stays the course and remains focused on two pillars that save it from sinking.

The pillars are: …a statue of the Immaculate Virgin at whose feet a large inscription reads: Help of Christians; the other, far loftier and sturdier, supports a [Communion] Host of proportionate size and bears beneath it the inscription Salvation of believers.

The entire enemy fleet closes in to intercept and sink the flagship at all costs. They bombard it with everything they have: books and pamphlets, incendiary bombs, firearms, cannons. The battle rages ever more furious. Beaked prows ram the flagship again and again, but to no avail, as, unscathed and undaunted, it keeps on its course. At times a formidable ram splinters a gaping hole into its hull, but, immediately, a breeze from the two columns instantly seals the gash.

Very grave trials await the Church… Only two things can save us in such a grave hour: devotion to Mary and frequent Communion. Let us do our very best to use these two means and have others use them everywhere.

Prayer certainly is part of the continued solution to this battle described by St John Bosco. Ownership of the problem and vigilant action are also part of the solution.

In a summative statement author theologian Ron Rolheiser says: “As Roman Catholic priest, I want to publicly say that what’s happened in the church in terms of sexual abuse by the clergy and cover-up by the hierarchy is inexcusable, deeply sinful, has harmed thousands of lives irrevocably, and needs radical redress in terms of reaching out to the victims and of prompting structural change in the church to ensure that this will never happen again.”

As individuals we can stop some of the sin and bitterness that’s in the moment by absorbing it, not distancing ourselves from it, and not giving it back in kind, says author Ron Rolheiser.

Apologies have been issued by virtually every diocese and every priest in America, and from the Pope himself. As members of the Christian Church we share a collective sorrow, regret and guilt. Prayer and vigilant action are needed to keep this flagship of Christ afloat and on course.

Our individual prayer, vigilance and virtue is required for the good of the whole body of the church. Clergy in particular are under fire as they continue to be a sign of Christ in a world hostile to church institutions.

Fr. Basil Hutsko of Illinois was attacked in his sacristy by a man who beat him saying, “This is for all the kids”. Fr. Jonathan Slavinskas of Massachusetts, hesitant about wearing the easily recognised Roman collar, decided to stay with it. A woman asked him to anoint her dying brother. In the collar she had seen a sign of hope and the presence of Christ.
Father Brendan McGuire in facing this present darkness turned to God in prayer, echoing the words of St Peter: “To whom else shall would I go?” McGuire listened to the Lord. “He kept on just saying, ‘Stay with me. Stay focused on me. 
Get everyone else to stay focused on Christ. On him because he is the way, the truth and the life.’”

(563 words)

By Ken Rolheiser