By the grace of God, the Catholic Church, led by the pope, eventually came around to embrace the obvious.
Slowly, yes. Painfully, yes. But around it does come, usually, to embrace the gospel truth.
TODAY, the news of this comes via The New York Times . . . which had its own role in forcing the issue:
In his most direct condemnation of the sexual abuse crisis that has swept the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday said that the “sins inside the church” posed the greatest threat to the church, adding that “forgiveness does not substitute justice.”WELL, DUH. And amen.
“Attacks on the pope and the church come not only from outside the church, but the suffering of the church comes from inside the church, from sin that exists inside the church,” Benedict told reporters aboard his plane en route to Portugal, speaking about the abuse crisis.
“This we have always known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way, that the greatest persecution of the church does not come from the enemies outside but is born from the sin in the church,” he added. “The church has a profound need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn on the one hand forgiveness but also the necessity of justice. And forgiveness does not substitute justice.”
In placing the blame for sex abuse directly on the church, Benedict appeared to distance himself from other church officials who in recent weeks have criticized the news media for reporting on the sex abuse crisis, which they called attacks on the church.
In recent months, the sex abuse crisis has revealed an ancient institution wrestling with modernity and has brought to light an internal culture clash between traditionalists who have valued protecting priests and bishops above all else, and others who seek more transparency.
The crisis has also raised questions about how Benedict handled sex abuse as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and as bishop in Munich in 1980 when a pedophile priest was moved to his diocese for treatment.
A traditionalist but also a strong voice within the church calling for purification, Benedict met privately with victims of sex abuse on a brief trip to Malta last month, his third such meeting. In March, he issued a strong letter to Irish Catholics reeling from reports of systemic sex abuse in Catholic institutions. And last week the Vatican took control of the Legionaries of Christ, a powerful religious order whose founder was founded to have abused seminarians and fathered several children.
But the pope’s off-the-cuff remarks on Tuesday were his most direct since the crisis hit the church in Europe earlier this year.
On the plane, Benedict told reporters that the church had to relearn “conversion, prayer, penance.”
Let the Vatican's deeds now match the Holy Father's words.