Generally today might be a day for recollection of St. Tarcicius, a martyr at the age of 12, or recollections of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In a.m. masses or Noon, a small segment of the faithful may have joined together in Catholic Mass. Others may have had some solitude and prayer dedicated to this aspect of Catholic tradition and doctrine among their other prayerful moments and daily devotionals. Most are not evangelist or skilled orators ready to defend the defenseless actions of priests. The brutal and devastating history of sexual abuse that has traumatized uncountable victims. It is a time for crying.
The Holy See, despite having Pope Francis, is unable or unwilling to have an ecumenical council like no other before it, with radical change. Change at the level that may significantly, at least initially, drastically further reduce the numbers of the faithful, the number of priests, and its global financial and political clout. Change at the level that might even cause a great schism. Change that is not only a reminiscent of the great fathers of the church and the saints, but also bravely facing where our traditions and history have failed us.
The guiding principle being devoid of hubris and posturing and grounded in the true simplicity of Christ. A turning inward, away from the demanding secular society come to understand the mystery of the Trinity (despite our limited ability to understand it ourselves, embracing on our own hearts contemplation and deep mystical thought, and vigilante to remain humble in all our actions. No words or apologist can speak for the Sex Abuse scandal. Only actions across a life span, heroic acts of selflessness, and God’s merciful guidance can help the Catholic Church establish its rich tradition of apostolic successors.
Our richness has to be in our poverty. Our faith needs to embrace our suffering and the suffering of others in the name of Jesus Christ. Not from the power of the Holy See or from the pulpit garbed in robes, but silently and quietly in prayer and personal action.
Seeking proximity to the divine will always be filled with moments of great joy and great suffering – sometimes simultaneously as long as we are spiritual beings living in a physical world.
It is not only an examination of conscience on sex abuse that the church must face. As a religious organization it must examine every aspect of orthodoxy to root out our human error that has seeped into and become codified in canon law. Nothing can be left off the table as being unchecked for fallacy and human hubris not aligned with the teachings and words of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps a period of mourning for the atrocities committed in the Churches name – and a period of seeking mercy from God. How long – a day, a week, a month? No time will suffice, but some time must be given. And than radical change. Not for change sake, not for progressives or conservatives, but as response to the evidence and tragedy of our many failings as the apostolic successors of Peter. Monetizing, Politicization, and using the word of God and Christ for social status and moral condescension of others must end.
And for any perpetrators of such acts, there can be no sanctuary in our Church. They must face the full breath of justice and penalty as allowed under our secular laws. Their ultimate judgement will also await them. And as an institution, our Churches may also need to further divest itself of excessive property or financial wealth and make restitution where possible as well, perhaps with a globally historic commitment.
It is a dark time to be a Catholic. I do not blame the critics, the atheist, and others that mock our faith. We have made it difficult to get anywhere near the complexity of the Resurrection and what it means for us to be Catholic. We have been conquered by traitors and sickness from within our own congregation. No matter how saintly we may be, we are not blameless ourselves.
We cannot turn away from the ugly truth of this history. I do not have a road map – but do not deny the reality of the transgressions and demand change, significant and overreaching change. The pain of reading about the abuse is nothing compared to the pain of being abused.