Every couple of centuries the Catholic Church faces some great trial. These come in the form of some scandal, war, heresy, schism etc. However, God always found a way to send the right people to stir the Church back to course. At some point the Church had two Popes; one living in Rome, another in Avignon France.
Some people have argued that the present scandal might be the worst of the trials faced by the Church, others have said it isn’t but close. What we need to know is: there will always be trials, this is part of the deal. But, when did these begin?
With what Pope?
With Christ himself actually. There were scandals even at the time of Christ, albeit different than what we’re experiencing today, which caused many people to flee from Jesus. One of the cases was when Jesus told the crowd, quite literally, that they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood to be saved. After they got scandalized and left, he turned to the Apostles whose faiths were expressed through the Spirit speaking through Peter saying:
“Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69
This scandal is VERY different in that it is a moral question on the part of the leaders of the Church. That of Christ was merely a test of how strong the faiths of his followers were. To be fair, Jesus fed them quite the strong food when they were yet toddlers. They wanted to be able to see everything, to understand everything before they believed. This caused them to fall.
This scandal is MOST terrible since it is devastating to the lives of the abused, most of these people might never get over the psychological trauma such incidents leave behind. To think that these priests and seminarians had to endure all forms of sexual abuse from a high-ranking member of the Church (Cardinal Theodore McCarrick). And not only did they face these abuse, they also had to watch him continue his public work unpunished, unchastised. This is devastating, to say the least.
But, the testimony of Archbishop Viganò seems to also point a finger at Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. And this is what makes this a very unique case since these two are accused of covering up abuse.
What if Pope Francis is implicated?
This is very possible, but should not change anything for anyone who understands what it means to follow Christ. The Pope is human and very capable of making erroneous pastoral judgements. Putting someone like McCarrick in missions with a foreknowledge of the charges against him and the sanctions imposed by the previous Pope is obviously a mistake. This is a fact no one can deny. However, a Pope can err in these kinds of decisions. He alone is to take the blame and make all necessary restitution for this error. We should pray for him that God directs him to do his will in these trying times and find a way to begin to make things right.
But what about you?
Just like the question of Christ:
“Do you want to leave too?”
Your faith has to respond like Peter’s:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”
The Catholic Church has been given the power to distribute the merits of Christ’s salvific work. This makes her a real heavenly power on earth. Anyone who has faith knows and believes this. No matter the mistakes of any particular cleric(s), these do not reflect on the approved discipline or the doctrine of the Church. In other words, the stupidity of one priest, is only his own, not of Christ or his Church. A priest who molests someone is terrible and is neither deserving of the slightest trust, nor the grandeur of priestly ministry.
There have been bishops who did all forms of evil, and Popes who did horrible things in the past. I am not just talking about an error in judgement or a cover-up as the present Pope is accused, but actual atrocities that I am afraid to speak of. But, what happened? Even those around them whose faiths were strong did not fall since they knew that aside this Church is no other where one can find the fullness of Truth and authenticity of Petrine authority. There were also those who fell out of faith for the sake of those scandals. This is sad, and I acknowledge traumatic for any victim of such scandals, but this also shows that the basic understanding of the nature of the Church was lacking.
What should I do?
I am pained that this is happening. It is shameful really. However, what else can we do but pray for ourselves? Pray for the Pope, Bishops and Cardinals who have been accused. But most of all, pray for those who have been abused. And not only these but everyone who has ever had to witness the horror, the unspeakable horror of cleric abuse. Pray that God sends help again, that God sends healing again to his beloved Church. That he sends his healing to the hearts of those who have suffered and also helps the Church figure out how to punish such atrocities. There definitely isn’t any punishment that can equal such abuses, but the Church could at least begin somewhere. That once again, we will elude death and keep thriving in the Life of Christ, our Head and our Lord.
I apologize to all who have been scandalized. My heart goes out to those who have been abused. I feel so sad anyone would be molested by a priest who they should be able to trust with their lives. I am sorry for these but I say: do not lose your faith, God has not failed you. Human beings have, but God is and always will be faithful. Be strong!
In Viganò’s words:
Closing his letter, Viganò gives these words of hope:
Let us all pray for the Church and for the Pope, let us remember how many times he has asked us to pray for him!
Let us all renew faith in the Church our Mother: “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church!”
Christ will never abandon His Church! He generated her in His Blood and continually revives her with His Spirit!