Pray for Our Catholic Bishops
By Judie Brown
Catholic News Service reports that “the U.S. bishops will start 2019 with a spiritual retreat to pray and reflect on the important matters facing the Catholic Church.”
This retreat, scheduled for January 2-8, comes as a response to Pope Francis’ request that the bishops focus on the widening sex abuse scandal in the Church. This request occurred a couple of weeks before the Vatican asked the USCCB not to vote on a new code of conduct for priests and other matters pertinent to the handling of the scandals—a request that was made just prior to the USCCB’s November 2018 meeting.
We will not opine on the possible reasons behind the Vatican request; they are irrelevant. But what is very important to us—the laity—is that the bishops use their time of meditation to pray about all of the significant contributors to the sexual abuse problem.
It is clear to us that the sex abuse scandals are a manifestation of man’s loss of reverence and respect for the dignity of the human person. In that regard, like abortion and contraception, the sexual abuse/gender confusion problem requires thoughtful and prayerful reflection.
Here are a few points we ask the bishops to contemplate as they relate to sexual abuse in the priesthood.
First, abortion is a grave offense against God and is linked to disregard for human dignity in the same way that sexual abuse is linked. Both are grave offenses to the human person. If the virtue of chastity were embraced, neither abortion nor sexual abuse would exist.
This is why the Church instructs us that, when it comes to pregnancy and abortion,
“following one’s conscience in obedience to the law of God is not always the easy way. One must not fail to recognize the weight of the sacrifices and the burdens which it can impose. Heroism is sometimes called for in order to remain faithful to the requirements of the divine law.”
Requirements of the divine law teach us how to practice self-control, how to remain faithful to God’s law, and how to respect all human beings, including the preborn child.
This leads us to contraception, which is also a grave offense against God. Pope Paul VI told us in Humanae Vitae that the practice of contraception can lead to “a general lowering of moral standards.” The Holy Father further noted:
“Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.”
Again, we see that chastity is a great help to us in the challenge of observing the moral law.
In the case of infertility, we see a similar problem. Many seek in vitro fertilization and other reproductive technologies because they are desperate for a child but do not understand the inherent error that such man-made solutions involve. Catholic couples can only deal appropriately with this challenge if they have been taught in a way that results in a proper formation of conscience and an understanding of God’s design for the human body, as set forth in Donum Vitae and Dignitas Personae.
Again, it is God’s design for man and woman and the gift of their sexuality that could help lead them to peace and acceptance of that cross.
And, finally, gender confusion has run amok in society today. This contributes in no small measure to the sexual abuse problem. The USCCB documents state that “the obscuring of the difference or duality of the sexes has enormous consequences on a variety of levels.” Among those there exists a blurring of respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of the human person.
The common denominator connecting abortion, contraception, infertility, gender confusion, and sexual abuse is absence of respect for the moral law. Consequently, respect for human dignity becomes a casualty.
The common denominator connecting abortion, contraception, infertility, gender confusion, and sexual abuse is absence of respect for the moral law.
— Judie Brown (@Judie_Brown) December 7, 2018
As Dignitas Personae says, the Magisterium’s mission is to contribute to the proper “formation of conscience by authentically teaching the truth, which is Christ.” And the truth of Christ is that such abnormalities and violations of the natural law require patient teaching and understanding based on that truth.
Catholics are starving to hear our bishops challenge us to follow Christ, to understand His teaching, to embrace His cross, and to walk with Him to Crucifixion with joy in our hearts instead of acceptance of the world’s siren song of “it’s all about me.”
We will offer our Rosaries for the special intentions of our shepherds during the retreat and ask you to do likewise. We ask Our Lady to intercede for each Catholic bishop in America according to his needs.
May the spirit of the Living God be with the bishops and may the Blessed Mother intercede constantly for each of them as they find the way forward for their sheep and for the Church.
Pray for our Catholic bishops!