I hit some raw nerves last week with my article, Under Attack – The Vicar of Christ. One woman who has been a member of our adoration program for several years had this to say:
“In this instance I do not agree with your view. Coming from a devout Catholic family, my faith has been shattered by these events. I believe that the only hope that lies ahead is for the Church to admit past mistakes and beg for forgiveness.”
Another woman in her late 70’s told me she is so distraught over what has been going on in the Church that she expressed her frustrations to a priest during her most recent confession.
My intention with last week’s article was to offer a defense on behalf of Pope Benedict who is being unjustifiably attacked by the national and international media. It was not my intention to defend or justify the actions of pedophile-priests or any of the bishops that allowed the priests to continue to interact with members of the Church.
Yes, there are some rotten apples in the Church, but unfortunately it will always be that way. Out of Christ’s 12 hand-picked apostles, one turned out to be rotten. I would hope that the odds would be better with our current priests and bishops, but we really shouldn’t be surprised if one out of every twelve of them ends up betraying Christ just like Judas did. That’s why we should pray for all of our priests and bishops – every day.
In June of 2002, the United States Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops met in Dallas, Texas, for the purpose of addressing the ongoing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. In addition to admitting past mistakes and apologizing for what had taken place in the Church, the bishops approved The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which consisted of a comprehensive plan for dealing with the crisis.
The plan included strict requirements concerning the creation of a safe environment for children and young people in every diocese and eparchy in the United States, a process for healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors, prompt and effective response to allegations, cooperation with civil authorities, and appropriate disciplining of offenders. At that time, a new Office for Child and Youth Protection was established to audit the dioceses and eparchies so they could be held accountable for implementing and following through on the new rules.
After being installed as the new Bishop of Peoria in 2002, Bishop Daniel Jenky acted swiftly and decisively in removing some of our own priests from active ministry. He was “rewarded” with a firestorm of criticism from hundreds of local Catholics who demanded reinstatement of one of the priests (without having any knowledge of the evidence Bishop Jenky relied upon in making his decision). Of course, the local media did everything in its power to throw gasoline on the fire.
About 5 years ago, I read an article by Gary North, a well known protestant writer. The title of his article was “Catholicism’s Crisis = Opportunity.” The article was written for the leaders of protestant churches who were in the position (and had the resources) to reach out to Catholics. The article started out with this sentence: “A revolution is coming to your local Roman Catholic Church.”
North cited some bleak statistics about the shortage of priests and the numerous sexual harassment lawsuits that had been filed against Catholic Bishops and Dioceses in America. He pointed out the fact that the average age of an American priest is 63; he then went on to quote an article that appeared in the National Catholic Reporter that told about the 38,000 nuns in their retirement years (over age 70) and the critical funding problems that existed in providing support for them.
North called what was going on in the church “the most monumental changes in Roman Catholicism since the Reformation.” He stated that it was the perfect time for protestant churches to “reach out to Catholics who are frustrated and/or angry with what’s going on in the Catholic Church.” North is a very savvy marketer and he offered several good ideas on how the protestant leaders could influence Catholics to leave their Church. He called it a “once in a millennium deal.”
So there it was – a protestant writer who was salivating at the prospect of using the crisis in our Church to entice Catholics to abandon the true faith for some “feel good” religion.
My immediate thought after reading North’s article was: “Hey, North, don’t get too excited about your devious plan. We’ll show you and your smug little followers that we Catholics are spiritual people of action – not a bunch of cowardly wimps who cut and run when times get tough.”
It has now been 8 years since the United States Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops apologized and put into place significant procedures and safeguards to deal with the problems. It’s been 5 years since North wrote about the “opportunity” to take advantage of the crisis.
This particular “crisis” was fully addressed 8 years ago in the United States. There are several countries where the bishops have not yet properly addressed the problem of pedophile-priests. In those countries, there will continue to be a crisis until the bishops take actions similar to what took place with the American bishops in 2002.
Why did the “reporters” from the New York Times publish 10 articles about the “crisis” beginning a week and a half before Easter and continuing until the day after Easter? Why are reporters at the Times and several other national media outlets continuing to report on the “crisis” while assigning blame to the Pope? It’s because, like the politicians, they are experts at setting off emotional triggers. They know that radical change cannot take place unless and until there is a crisis – so whenever they want to impose radical change upon an organization and/or the American public, they manufacture a new crisis or turn an existing problem into an urgent crisis.
And what is the change that is desired by these so-called reporters? They are attempting to force upon the Church two different radical changes: (1) granting priests the “right” to marry; and (2) woman priests, both of which would destroy the priesthood and the Catholic Church.
The pedophile-priest problem is no longer at a crisis level in the United States. You might think I’m splitting hairs here, but I’m not. In addition to their attempt to impose radical changes on the Catholic Church, the continuing efforts of the media to focus attention on the pedophile-priests serves another very important purpose. It acts as a cover for the real hidden crisis that is (and has been) going on in the Catholic Church for over 80 years – a crisis that no one dares to talk about.
I’ll give you an outline of that crisis next week.