Often, in the post-Vatican II Church, our preaching is a Pollyanna approach to salvation. Evil and its consequences are seldom if ever preached about. I’m speaking of real evil, child sexual abuse by trusted “representatives” of God or others in authority over children, the murder of children at home and school, the Holocaust and other genocides.
These sins (and I use sin as even more horrible than heinous crimes by criminals) scream to heaven for justice.
I fear the recovery of the 1970’s version of the corrupt spirit of Vatican II, is recovering a mercy without judgment and justice and exclusion. Pope Francis has enabled the recovery of the 1970’s and its backwardness.
Unrepentant sinners in this life and the next are excluded, for reason of justice, from receiving Holy Communion or being in full-communion with the Church and from heaven in the life to come. They are condemned to the eternal fires of hell.
If we don’t believe what happens to the unrepentant in this life or in the next, we will never appreciate the Paschal Mystery and what Jesus goes through to save us from the eternal fires of hell.
Recently I have read Attorney Generals’ reports on the sexual abuse of minors in the two dioceses of Georgia and the surreal facts of what happened in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, America’s premier diocese.
It is hard to believe. We are dealing with miscreants and criminals allowed to flourish in the Church that is meant to be a haven of refuge from sin, Satan and the fires of hell. But in fact, the Church became the fires of hell for so many victims.
This is the mystery of iniquity, that Pollyanna Catholicism neglects to preach and neglect to show the only way out is Jesus Christ.
In reading the Georgia report, I discovered that my pastor at Saint Joseph Church in Augusta was credibly accused. He was my pastor from the time I was in the first grade until I graduated from high school. One victim, an altar boy there, stated he was molested around 1962 or ‘63. There is no name, but I am sure I would know the family name. He would more than likely be my age or my older brother’s age.
I also discovered that when I went to St. Anthony School in Atlanta for the first grade (until April of that year) a priest who was assigned there in 1959 has been credibly accused of serial abuse in various parishes. I was at St. Anthony for the 1959-60 school year.
The absolutely heart-wrenching and incredibly tragic Baltimore report included credible accusations towards two of my classmates in the class of 1980 at St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore. They both lived across the hall from me and abused a 12 year old in their seminary room around 1977 or ‘78 and it was correctly called violent raped. There are other St. Mary’s alumni that are credibly accused, several from my class either for Baltimore or other dioceses.
This is the mystery of iniquity. I can understand why Catholics have left the Church over this, especially those abused by molesters and then by those in authority in the Church, bishops, who treated them poorly when they came forward, or were the ones who enabled abuse to continue by reassigning miscreant and criminal clergy.
I can see why others are leaving the Church believing that priests were holy, believed what the Church teaches and tried to live moral lives as an example to the flock, although sinners themselves. They did not believe their priests were miscreants or criminals though. To find out they were is a shock to the core of the soul.
While no one in the Church can make sure that no miscreant is ordained, they should make valiant efforts to makes sure there are no known miscreants are ordained. Rigorous screening is needed fro that. And once ordained, credible accusations should be turned over to law enforcement to determine its veracity and bishops must take action to stop any future abuse by a supposedly “good standing” priest.
But apart from all that, the Mystery of Iniquity must be proclaimed and taught and that justice is demanded by God. The Church must be a refuge from the fires of hell not an experience of it. Rigid rules or canon law must be in place to protect both clergy and laity from abuse, be its spiritual, physical of sexual. Professional standards are needed and should be rigidly supervised as it concerns follow-through.
There should be a “healthy mistrust” of trusted leaders, from the pope on down.