Thursday, April 24, 2008

Time to read

Spot the Bishop of Burlington in this picture!

Having not managed to see many of the events during the Papal visit, I think that I, along with everyone in the Church here in the United States, need to spend a considerable amount of time actually reading what he said. I am still profoundly struck by his call for penance as a central theme for the revival of the Church: I wonder if we (Me!) will take this to heart? Then the strong encouragement to strengthen Catholic identity and to propose the joy of a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. Despite what some bloggers may feel, it was, indeed, curious, to say the least, that the Pope's explicit comments - and directives - about music were ignored at the Washington Mass. As Father Richard John Neuhaus so wittily said on the 'First Things' blog, the Holy Father got to experience "aspects of the aesthetic suffering endured by the faithful in America." However, given my experience of what the young people who are really committed to their faith (real young people - not people in their early thirties!) seem to be asking for - that "aesthetic suffering" will, in God's good time, be relieved more rapidly than the Washington Mass would have us believe. It might have been the death rattle of the soft-rock crooners!

The meeting with victims of sexual abuse was stunning - even more stunning was the report of healing and reconcilation - yes, the Sacrament of Reconciliation - that was celebrated by one of the victims - that was truly a moment of wonderful grace - prior to his meeting the Holy Father. At the risk of irritating certain people in the blogosphere, I still wonder when there will be some semblance of justice - within the Church - and outside it - for men who have been accused, not found guilty, not been charged, not been able to defend themselves - but who have been abandoned by all who should take care of them - there will be no real reconciliation or justice until that injustice is addressed. Is there an advocate for the falsely accused priest-victims? - and if not - don't talk about justice, because it's hollow talk.


Kimberly said...

I got to listen to many of his sermons and his address to the U.N. but I should also read them, because he can be a bit difficult to understand sometimes with his accent. I especially need to read the speech he gave to the youth and seminarians, which I did not get to see on TV. I thank God for EWTN because they weren't afraid to speak against the D.C. mass music.
Now back to homework... and trying to find a job.

Liz said...

I think it's horrible for someone to be in the sort of limbo that those priests must be. Even those who were accused and have been cleared by the proper agencies have to face skeptical glances from people in their towns. I have a friend whose husband is a Protestant pastor in a town in Vermont. The priest in their town was accused and was cleared, by an investigation, yet awhile back she told me she thinks he should be moved elsewhere because people in town no longer trust him. Talk about guilt by accusation!

I also wonder why it is that we are so fixated on the fact that a relatively small number of priests have abused children and even seduced older teenagers, yet we do not consider it significant that huge numbers of married couples have caused permanent emotional harm to their children by fracturing their families. I am as bothered by US tribunals that seem to rubber stamp petitions for decrees of nullity (which if they are appealed to Rome are overturned in the majority of cases) and by couples who want to practice serial polygamy and still receive communion as I am by the small number of priests who betrayed the trust of vulnerable young parishoners. The number of people damaged by the latter are almost certainly smaller than the number damaged by no fault divorce (even among Catholics).

I think if we were as concerned about the divorce problem among Catholic laity as we purport to be about the abuse scandal among the clergy we would be handling many things (including Pre-Cana instruction) far differently. Yet the number of children effected by divorce continues to rise, while the number of children effected by the abuse scandal has certainly dropped dramatically in recent years.