Here we go again! The sex abuse crisis in the Church is, once again, all over the news, and various priests and bishops are, once again, offering commentary and expressing sadness, shock, shame, while calling for changes and remedies within the Church. It’s like 2002 all over again. But the real problem will continue to be ignored or overlooked. The real problem in the Church isn’t sexual misconduct. That’s just a manifestation of the problem. If the real problem isn’t addressed, then the manifestationS (plural) will never really go away. That real problem that no one is talking about is that the blood of the Church is diseased by bad theology, a lack/loss of spirituality, an openness to secularism, an over-eagerness to please and to appease, and a resistance to humility and submission to Jesus Christ.
Until the Church returns to God completely (Theologically, spiritually, morally), the Church will continue to bring pain and suffering to the faithful and to itself; whether that pain is personal, spiritual, psychological, or physical and emotional. So as far as I’m concerned all this talk about “change and renewal” is just lip service. What needs to be changed is the attitude of the collective Church, and what needs to be renewed is the heart and mind and soul of the Church, which has become corrupt not by scandalous behavior (which is the fruit) but by secular and atheistic attitudes (the root). Our troubles aren’t just about pedophilia or actively gay, predatory priests. Our troubles are far broader than that. Sexual misconduct and abuse, especially of children, is the most destructive and harmful manifestation, but some in the clergy are harmful in other ways.
Not every priest is a pedophile. Some are just liars and traitors to the truth. Not every priest flirts with seminarians. Some just court heresy. Not every priest acts in the interests of his secret sex life. Some simply act in the interests of their secularized agendas. Not every priest takes license to act out his vices. Some just give that license to the souls in their care—either by word, or by omission. Not every priest is a King Herod. Some are just Judas Iscariot. And others are the other 10 apostles who, though faithful, still fled and hid while Our Lord hung on the cross, and Our Lady wept at his feet. Our Lord’s mystical Body is beaten, bloody, and crucified anew in our time. Our Lady weeps again for the body of Christ.
It should be said that while one apostle betrayed Jesus, and 10 fled and hid while Our Lord was crucified, there was still one apostle who stood at the foot of the cross by Our Lady’s side—St. John. The Church today still has her Saint Johns. There are priests who are pious, saintly, brave, and devoted to Jesus, to the Church, to the Gospel, to truth, and to goodness. They should be the rule, but I feel they are the exception. We need more priests like them. Priests who enact the truth rather than theorize about it. Priests who are very spiritual, not just intellectual. Priests who contemplate the great mysteries rather than intellectualize them. Priests who are formed by the faith rather than by the philosophies and attitudes of the secular world. Priests who understand mercy from the perspective of the creator and not from the self-centered point of view of His creatures.
Change, renew, repeat. We heard all of this back in 2002. While our children are safer, the disease in the Church hasn’t gone anywhere. Because no one is tending to the sickness, we’re just tending to the lesions generated by it. Until the Church, or more correctly those in the church collectively, returns to God, to truth, to spirituality, and abandons secularized “Catholicism”, nothing will change, and nothing will be renewed. The mystical body will continue to rot from the inside out; and that rot will show itself not just in sexual misconduct, but in general moral disfigurement and confusion.
Ave Maria, Virgo fidelis!