We have failed. As a Church, as Christians, as Catholics, as followers of Jesus we have failed. Lord Jesus forgive us our failures, forgive us our sins, forgive us for not being your hands and feet to the world.
As the sex scandal raises its ugly head again in the news, my heart breaks. As a convert, I was not Catholic when the first scandal hit the news years ago and viewed it as proof the Catholic Church was not Christian – like the good Baptist I was at the time. But now that God has led me to His Church, my heart breaks and I have shed tears because the beauty of Jesus within the Church that drew me to convert has now been shattered. Once again, those who have left the Church or those who are not believers have something to point at to say “see, it’s not a Christian church”.
It is not the sinful actions of priests or bishops that define the Church of the Living God. It is our actions going forward. It is how we respond to the sins brought to light that define us.
1.) Realize and remember the Church’s identity – We have to separate the sin from the Church when it comes to defining the Catholic identity. Our identity rests in Jesus alone, not in the sins that make the nightly news. As Christians, we need to remember that our sense of who we are comes from the One and Only Lord and Savior. Our sense of what defines us comes from Jesus, not in the human failures of people. We go to Mass to worship Jesus and to encounter Him. When we begin to become self-centered instead of Christ centered, regardless if we are parishioners or priests, then we are setting ourselves up for failure – becoming targets for Satan to bind us in sin. Ask yourself, why do you go to Mass? (be honest)
2.) We must condemn sin – Jesus never pulled any punches when it came to confronting and condemning sin. We have to remember, when speaking of the scandal and things that have broken our hearts, that priests are human as well. They are sinners just like the rest of us. Their sin does not define Jesus. Jesus’ forgiveness of sin defines Jesus. “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
3.) We must pray – We find it easy to pray for the victims, since they are indeed victims. We pray for healing in their hearts, emotional healing, and healing within their families. We pray they still remain faithful to Jesus despite their abuse because the actions that happened to them are not reflective of the love of God. But, we must also pray for the abusers. “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28) In truth, it is the abusers who need our prayers even more than the victims. It is the abusers who are bound by sin and enslaved by the traps of the devil.
Despite the actions of others, we must stand firm in our faith and defend that which the Lord has passed on to us. We must remain faithful to the One who never waivered in His love for us. We must hold true to that which we know to be Truth. We must dance in the rain, walk on water, and take the hand of the One who calms the seas, because we know God will remain faithful to His Church. “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
To the victims of this abuse, as a Catholic Christian I want to say I’m sorry and I pray you come to understand the sins and behaviors of those in authority of the Church are not the behaviors of Christ the Lord. I pray you find peace.
Lord Jesus may you heal your Church. Come to those who are broken because of what has taken place and heal their hearts, give them the peace that passes all understanding, and comfort them. Lord may you heal those who are victims of the abuse from their emotional, psychological, and unseen scars and may you show them you are the God of love, not hurt. You are the God of peace, not bitterness and anxiety, and may they come to forgive their abusers just as you have forgiven us. Lord heal the abusers from the entrapment of sin and the bondage they have become enslaved to and bring them to repentance, bring them to a point of healing for themselves from the sin and addiction, and Lord may you heal your Church. Let your Church be a place of healing, help, peace, love, and safety just as you are the source of all those things. You are the Prince of Peace, the God of Love, the Refuge we run to….Lord thy will be done in your Church.