I am not a fighter. I don’t confront. I’m a mild-mannered person. Last Sunday, for the first time in my life, I confronted someone who is not part of my immediate family. After spending Mass with shaking hands and a racing heart, I knew that I could not let this one go. The gloves went on.
When my children were little and had something important to tell me they’d say, “Mom! Hear this!” If it was extra important, they might put a hand on my shoulder or even turn my face toward them to ensure they had my attention.
Now it’s my turn.
The current scandal the Catholic faithful are enduring is NOT a result of overzealous media.
The scandal is NOT being perpetuated by that media.
Things would NOT be better if the media were reporting differently.
We are in this situation because, for the last half century, there has been a dereliction of duties and failure of leadership. Church leaders failed the faithful, failed Mother Church, and failed in their responsibility to God to shepherd his flock.
The homily I heard Sunday, February 23, by the deacon at St. Monica Parish could have been an attempt to share some good news. It may be true that since the Dallas Charter of 2002, there are fewer abuse cases. Couched in a bigger discussion that, while progress has been made, there is still a monstrous amount of work to be done, this could bring comfort. That boat was spectacularly missed.
Whether someone was abused forty years ago, four years ago, or four days ago, is irrelevant. People were abused. People are still being abused in parts of the world. This is no longer a United States phenomenon. There may be fewer people being abused in the United States, but one person is one person too many. It is disingenuous to say there will always be abuse because of original sin. Zero is the only acceptable number to tolerate.
People aren’t just angry it has happened, people are mad that it was, and still is, being covered up and minimized. As the lay faithful, we don’t know whom to trust — and that is supremely sad.
That recent Sunday I found myself listening to someone tell the congregation from the pulpit that the media is somehow responsible for the magnitude of the scandal.
Pride, cowardice, sinful behavior, lack of leadership, and the weakness of men in positions of authority are responsible for the scandal. To so totally miss the boat is incomprehensible.
Those who make excuses and minimize the enormity of the issue become part of the problem. The problem is already big enough.
So do not stand in front of us and condescend. Do not tell us to forgive the media. Tell us that you are just as upset about this as we are. Buoy us up. Remind us that it is Christ’s Church and that Jesus already won the war. Call it what it is: gross incompetence and spiritual warfare. Pray with us, listen to us, and help us trust again.
While I was in the pew listening to excuses from the pulpit, journalist Dr. Valentina Alazraki, who has covered the Vatican for Mexican news media since 1974, spoke to those in attendance at the Vatican summit in Rome.
“Ask yourselves: are you enemies, as determined as we are, of those who commit abuse or who cover them up? We have decided which side to be on. Have you done so truly, or in word alone? If you are against those who commit or cover up abuse, then we are on the same side. We can be allies, not enemies. We will help you to find the rotten apples and to overcome resistance in order to separate them from the healthy ones.
“But if you do not decide in a radical way to be on the side of the children, mothers, families, civil society, you are right to be afraid of us, because we journalists, who seek the common good, will be your worst enemies … I believe that in no case can the mass media be blamed for having uncovered or reported on the abuse.” (via the Holy See Press Office)
I hope they listened.
Copyright 2019 Merridith Frediani