Pastor’s Column August 25-26, 2018
Prayer and Penance, Reparation and Renewal
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
While I enjoyed a few days away last week of rest and relaxation and technically am still on vacation, I would be remiss as your Pastor to not address the recent scandals affecting the Church these past few weeks, beginning with the revelations of sexual misconduct that led to the resignation of Theodore McCarrick from the College of Cardinals, and continuing with the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report which displayed in gruesome detail the horrendous and sickening stories of sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the clergy in several of that state’s dioceses against minors. Our Bishop, Nicholas DiMarzio, has written a letter to the faithful which he has asked us to insert into this weekend’s bulletin. Yesterday our Holy Father Pope Francis issued a letter to the People of God to address this situation which is readily available on the internet and which I would be happy to make available to anyone who would like a copy. Like them and like you I am saddened and hurt and angry. But my pain and anger pale in comparison to the victims of the abuse and their families and loved ones whose lives have been so tragically damaged. All too often Bishops and those in authority acted more like CEO’s trying to protect the reputation of their institution rather than the shepherds looking out for their flock or fathers protecting their families they are called to be.
Bishop Robert Morelino sums up my feelings precisely in a letter to his Diocese of Madison when he writes, “The past weeks have brought a great deal of scandal, justified anger, and a call for answers and action by many faithful Catholics here in the U.S. and overseas, directed at the Church hierarchy regarding sexual sins by bishops, priests, and even cardinals. Still more anger is rightly directed at those who have been complicit in keeping some of these serious sins from coming to light. For my part – and I know I am not alone – I am tired of this. I am tired of people being hurt, gravely hurt! I am tired of the obfuscation of truth, I am tired of sin.”
We face a problem which will not be solved by another committee or some new program with a clever acronym or fancy name. The heart of the problem is evil and sin, the reality of which these days is often denied or too easily excused and accepted in a mistaken notion of mercy. It is not a new problem. After all, Jesus said that He came to call not the righteous, but sinners. And He gave up His Body on the Cross and poured out His Blood for us so that sins might be forgiven. We are a Church made up of sinners. Christ entrusted His Church to Peter who would three times deny him. But we are sinners called to conversion. Jesus began His public ministry by proclaiming, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
Do not be discouraged. Do not walk away from the Church. Jesus promised Peter that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. And as Peter says to Jesus in our Gospel this weekend, “Master to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The solution to the Church’s problem will not come from the top down, but from the bottom up. Remember those two most important letters in the middle of the word church - “u r” - as in YOU ARE THE CHURCH. Let us go back to the basics of prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist. Let us commit ourselves to prayer and penance, reparation and renewal. Toward that end, I would like to end our Prayer of the Faithful by invoking Our Lady’s intercession with the Hail Mary, and conclude Mass by reciting the St. Michael the Archangel prayer. Help me say along with Joshua in our Old Testament reading this weekend, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
-- Fr. Bob