Catholic Scandals and the Cross

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Catholic Scandals and the Cross

By Judie Brown

So much is being written these days about the sexual misconduct of ordained Catholic priests, including Cardinal McCarrick, that we hardly need to concentrate on this further.

Furthermore, we understand the problem of homosexuality in the priesthood, but we also know that the vast majority of priests are good men who try hard to serve God and His people. This is why I believe it is time to take a step back and consider what is really important right now.

To do that, we must begin with a couple of statements recently made by bishops who love Christ, their priests, and their flock, and who most of all want to apply salve to this gaping wound that has affected the Church.
Bishop Robert Morlino of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, wrote a pastoral letter to his flock in which he said:

If you’ll permit me, what the Church needs now is more hatred! As I have said previously, St. Thomas Aquinas said that hatred of wickedness actually belongs to the virtue of charity. As the Book of Proverbs says: “My mouth shall meditate truth, and my lips shall hate wickedness (Prov. 8:7).” It is an act of love to hate sin and to call others to turn away from sin. . . .

Christian charity itself demands that we should hate wickedness just as we love goodness. But while hating the sin, we must never hate the sinner, who is called to conversion, penance, and renewed communion with Christ and His Church, through His inexhaustible mercy.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Diocese of San Francisco, California, wrote to his flock:

I ask you, our people to stay close to your parish priest. Our priests make great sacrifices to serve their people with generosity and compassion. They are there for you, attentive to providing you pastoral care. I am grateful to them for their labors in the Lord’s vineyard and pray that the divine assistance may be with them as they minister to you during this time of crisis.

These are just two of the holy men of God who have spoken words of clarity during this crisis in the Church. These words will resound within our consciousness if we allow them to sink into our hearts and minds.

Those of us who have studied the various trials the Church has suffered over the past 2,000 years realize that scandals like this are nothing new. And while it would be easy to blame the media for using these scandals to tear the Church apart, we should instead reflect upon what Pope Pius XI said when asked who he thought the Church’s worst enemies were. He said: “The Church’s worst persecutors have been her own unfaithful bishops, priests, and religious. Opposition from outside is terrible; it gives us many martyrs. But the Church’s worst enemy is her own traitors.”

Indeed. The most important thing to remember right now is to not lose faith, to hold fast to Christ and His teachings, and to reflect the light of Christ through our actions.

How do we do this? Where do we go for succor at times like these? We go to the foot of cross and imagine that we are standing next to Mary, the mother of God. We give our lives totally to Him. And, as we stand in solidarity with Mary, we pray the words to the prayer my dearly departed friend Cardinal John O’Connor penned for priests:

O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your sons who are close to you because of their priestly ordination and because of the power which they have received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs them so much. Be their comfort, be their joy, be their strength, and especially help them to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.

Lord Jesus, we your people pray to You for our priests. You have given them to us for OUR needs. We pray for them in THEIR needs.

We know that You have made them priests in the likeness of your own priesthood. You have consecrated them, set them aside, anointed them, filled them with the Holy Spirit, appointed them to teach, to preach, to minister, to console, to forgive, and to feed us with Your Body and Blood.

Yet we know, too, that they are one with us and share our human weaknesses. We know too that they are tempted to sin and discouragement as are we, needing to be ministered to, as do we, to be consoled and forgiven, as do we. Indeed, we thank You for choosing them from among us, so that they understand us as we understand them, suffer with us and rejoice with us, worry with us and trust with us, share our beings, our lives, our faith.

We ask that You give them this day the gift You gave Your chosen ones on the way to Emmaus: Your presence in their hearts, Your holiness in their souls, Your joy in their spirits. And let them see You face to face in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread.

We pray to You, O Lord, through Mary the mother of all priests, for Your priests and for ours. Amen.

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