Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How Should I React To Scandal In The Church?

Q - I absolutely love John Paul II and the amazing gifts that we have been given through our Catholic faith in the church. I am a little troubled lately about how the said “sex- scandals” that were covered up in the church are haunting his beatification. I have read that he did not know about them and I have also heard that he ignored them and I am very confused on exactly what happened on this matter in the church. How should I make a stand against these accusations and defend the church?


A - Thanks for the questions. My advice would follow these points:

1 - Let others know that you are offended by the abuse of minors by priests, and others in authority, just as they are. Also, let them know there is no justification for a bishop trying to cover up abuse. We should be outraged and upset about these things more than we are upset in a delay in JPII's beatification. It is an issue of justice to be upset about such horrible scandals.

2 - Pray and forgive. Pray for the victims, the perpetrators of these crimes, the Church, those that have left the Church because of these scandals, and yourself. Remember that God is offended by such sins even more than we are. Yet, he is merciful enough to forgive any sin. If we are to be more like God, we need to also forgive. But, our forgiveness does not mean we do not seek earthly justice for the victims and punishment for the criminals involved.

3 - Make a reasoned defense of the Church. The Church itself is the Bride of Christ. Her holiness will never be changed because of the sins of her members. Yet, she is also full of sinners and in need of constant purification. As long as humans are alive and members of the Catholic Church, there will be horrible sins committed by the Church's members. This does not change the truths of the Church of the grace she is a vessel of.

4 - Try to better understand the role of a Pope and what a beatification is. Too many do not understand that the Pope is not a king or even a President. He doesn't make the decisions for an individual bishop. Therefore his role in most of the cases was small if not completely out of the loop. That being said, he knew about some of the cases. Whether or not he handled these in the most prudent way is up for debate. Yet, this is not what beatification looks at. Rather, beatification is a statement about heroic virtue and personal holiness. Every Saint is still a fallible sinner and messes up.

5 - The Church is not defined by a scandal. I may be alone in this, but I am tired of blaming every problem in the Church on the scandals. Yes, it is a big deal. But, we can't throw the entire Church under the bus for the sins of a few members. Furthermore, I believe the scandal has become an excuse, for some, to maintain the status quo and not challenge ourselves, our neighbors, and our leaders to grow.

6 - If we are to fix any problem is starts with us. We need start working out our own holiness. This is ultimately the fix to every problem within the Church - a lack of holiness. Holiness is not achievable by our own merits or hard work, but only by cooperating with the grace that God provides to us through the sacramental life. Therefore, holiness is not so much what we are doing, but what God does through us.

As in all things in the spiritual life, we must start with the proper recognition of God and ourselves. When we are able to properly examine the relationship of God to man, we see that we must become more and more humble. Humility is the basis of all the other virtues, because without humility we will not be able to recognize that it is all because of God’s power, salvation and grace that we do anything of eternal value. If we are not humble, we cannot be holy.

Lord give your Church's members humility and make us holy Saints!
I hope this helps.

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