It has happened yet again. The men who we, the laity, are supposed to trust with our souls have violated us and brought scandal to the vocation of the priesthood. I am imagining a sobering morning as you read or watched the news. You knelt before God saying your morning prayers, your thoughts distracted by what the rest of the day might hold: The mistrust, the questions, the demand for answers from your parishioners. Did you pray for your fellow priests? Did you pray for the ones who brought the shame and struggle back to the surface? Did you pray for the people who were abused?
I did. And as I prayed, I asked God: “Lord, the Pope has asked us to evangelize. Yet who wants to come to a church where priests lure in and abuse young children? Why do I want to convince my family or friends to join the Catholic Church? Who wants to subject themselves to this mess?”
I began to challenge myself and my faith. I have five young children. Do I want to stay in a church where I can’t trust the people who call themselves “shepherd?” I would put my stamp of approval on my priests and go to the grave claiming their innocence, but I could be wrong. Every Sunday morning or every time I go to confession, I could be staring into the face of a child abuser, and I would never know until it was too late. Is it worth it?
These are my thoughts, not just for our priests but for everyone to read:
Since the death of Christ, His followers have been persecuted. Everyone who bore the cross of Christ on their hearts were sought out, drug out, beat, stoned, crucified, beheaded, burned, fed to lions, and so much more. Yet that did not stop them. Their numbers grew like wildfire because the message of Christ, His body and His blood, filled the bones of all those who stood their ground and defended the Son of God.
Eventually the bloodshed slowed. All was quiet. Money was pouring into the church from people who believed in the message of giving all they had to the poor. After fifteen hundred years, the church was bloated. Finery, excess, indulgences. Satan, the enemy of God, who hates God and all of humanity – changed his tactic from bloodshed to greed. A stain. A reason to leave the church; start something new. Start something that didn’t include the precious body and blood of ‘that Christ’, because a house divided cannot stand.
Five hundred years, 33,000 flavors of Christianity, and one holy, Catholic and apostolic church later … Satan wants more. The Pope has given his flock an evangelization mission and Satan wants to stop anyone from coming to the altar of grace and mercy. They must be thwarted from that transubstantiated Host. So what does he do? He weakens the church from within. Confusion. Mistrust. How can a holy man of God, a man who holds Christ in his hands, molest a small child? The flock will not be able to reconcile this monstrosity before them. They will leave. They will find faith in their hearts and minds elsewhere– as long as they stay away from the Body – because a house divided cannot stand.
From the depths of hell Satan cries for chaos, fear, anger, apathy, and disunity. He will get what he wants. But there is also something else he will get:
Me. And an army of other Catholics who are called and are being called to sainthood.
The sainthood that doesn’t lie in our own perfection but lies in Christ’s. The sainthood which understands that the transubstantiated Host – Jesus’ body and blood – is in us. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – the Trinitarian God of the universe made a way for us to consume Him. When we Catholics finally understand the power we have in Him, with Him and through Him, we will be unstoppable. When we match our will with God’s, He can have His way with us on earth: Healing us, changing us, and using us to spread His message of love and forgiveness to wherever He needs it to go.
Saints do not cower and hide out of fear for personal safety and security. They do not grow discouraged at human failing. They do not jump ship when the rumbling giant of Rome is slow to change. Saints press in with a renewed vigor. They use the power of the I AM that is burning inside of them to enact reform. Saints stand out and stand tall in the face of opposition. They forgive human failing. They start small, in their parishes, praying, protecting, and advocating for the innocents – humbly accomplishing the tasks that God has assigned.
And they never, ever stop teaching Truth. Whether the soul is an ordained priest or a baptized one, we are all called to teach the message of Christ. We are all called to proclaim His Passion and Resurrection. We are all called to invite the world to the altar so that they may partake of the Bread of Life. Scandal and the fear of abuse or the fear of being associated with abuse cannot keep us away from what we know to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
In closing, the damage done must not be ignored. The Church must account for and admit its failings. It must make reparation. Catholic doctrine teaches repentance and penance and must uphold its own teaching or risk being thrown into the Pharisaical lot that Jesus so often reprimanded.
As an advocate for the Church, by order of being one of its members, I humbly apologize to all who have been hurt by the actions of the leaders of our Church. It is our job as the laity to be on guard against the works of Satan. We have grown lazy in our prayers, lazy in our faith, and lazy in our attitude towards our relationships with others. I am sorry we were not there for you. I am sorry that you now have to suffer for the rest of your life. I am sorry that it has ruined the ability to have healthy relationships with others.
On behalf of many who are frustrated and who care immensely about you and what you have to live with, we promise to do our part in protecting the children of our parishes. As we sacrifice our time, talent, and treasure to protect our children, we will offer these things up for your healing. Let any merit received go towards the reconciliation between your heart and the heart of Christ.
Peace and good will,
Copyright 2018 Kelly Tallent