Showing posts with label papal visit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label papal visit. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taking the bishops to school?

Some commenters have reacted with surprise that Pope Benedict XVI has tackled the monster so directly.

OTHERS THINK he's whitewashing over the depth of the American episcopal rot that allowed the monster -- the Catholic Church's sexual-abuse crisis -- to run so amok for so long.

I think, given the occasion -- vespers with the U.S. bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington -- and that he's a guest in this country, of the American Church, and that his remarks were shown live on EWTN and the cable-news channels, what we saw just might have been an exquisitely diplomatically correct taking of the American bishops to the woodshed. And not just over the sexual predators who hid behind their Roman collars . . . and behind their enabling prelates.

Among the countersigns to the Gospel of life found in America and elsewhere is one that causes deep shame: the sexual abuse of minors. Many of you have spoken to me of the enormous pain that your communities have suffered when clerics have betrayed their priestly obligations and duties by such gravely immoral behavior. As you strive to eliminate this evil wherever it occurs, you may be assured of the prayerful support of God’s people throughout the world. Rightly, you attach priority to showing compassion and care to the victims. It is your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust, to foster healing, to promote reconciliation and to reach out with loving concern to those so seriously wronged.

Responding to this situation has not been easy and, as the President of your Episcopal Conference has indicated, it was “sometimes very badly handled”. Now that the scale and gravity of the problem is more clearly understood, you have been able to adopt more focused remedial and disciplinary measures and to promote a safe environment that gives greater protection to young people. While it must be remembered that the overwhelming majority of clergy and religious in America do outstanding work in bringing the liberating message of the Gospel to the people entrusted to their care, it is vitally important that the vulnerable always be shielded from those who would cause harm. In this regard, your efforts to heal and protect are bearing great fruit not only for those directly under your pastoral care, but for all of society.
IN HIS REMARKS, the pope didn't have to note what a mess some bishops made of things. But he did. Definite slam.

And did he have to remind the roomful of "shepherds" that "It is your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust . . . "? Ideally, no. Practically, yes.

So necessary that Benedict said it twice . . . "it is vitally important that the vulnerable always be shielded from those who would cause harm," coming just a paragraph later.

To tell you the truth, the entirety of the Holy Father's remarks to his brother bishops struck me as a comprehensive reminder to -- in short -- do your job, dammit.

Here in America, you are blessed with a Catholic laity of considerable cultural diversity, who place their wide-ranging gifts at the service of the Church and of society at large. They look to you to offer them encouragement, leadership and direction. In an age that is saturated with information, the importance of providing sound formation in the faith cannot be overstated. American Catholics have traditionally placed a high value on religious education, both in schools and in the context of adult formation programs. These need to be maintained and expanded. The many generous men and women who devote themselves to charitable activity need to be helped to renew their dedication through a “formation of the heart”: an “encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others” (Deus Caritas Est, 31). At a time when advances in medical science bring new hope to many, they also give rise to previously unimagined ethical challenges. This makes it more important than ever to offer thorough formation in the Church’s moral teaching to Catholics engaged in health care. Wise guidance is needed in all these apostolates, so that they may bear abundant fruit; if they are truly to promote the integral good of the human person, they too need to be made new in Christ our hope.

As preachers of the Gospel and leaders of the Catholic community, you are also called to participate in the exchange of ideas in the public square, helping to shape cultural attitudes. In a context where free speech is valued, and where vigorous and honest debate is encouraged, yours is a respected voice that has much to offer to the discussion of the pressing social and moral questions of the day. By ensuring that the Gospel is clearly heard, you not only form the people of your own community, but in view of the global reach of mass communication, you help to spread the message of Christian hope throughout the world.

Clearly, the Church’s influence on public debate takes place on many different levels. In the United States, as elsewhere, there is much current and proposed legislation that gives cause for concern from the point of view of morality, and the Catholic community, under your guidance, needs to offer a clear and united witness on such matters. Even more important, though, is the gradual opening of the minds and hearts of the wider community to moral truth. Here much remains to be done. Crucial in this regard is the role of the lay faithful to act as a “leaven” in society. Yet it cannot be assumed that all Catholic citizens think in harmony with the Church’s teaching on today’s key ethical questions. Once again, it falls to you to ensure that the moral formation provided at every level of ecclesial life reflects the authentic teaching of the Gospel of life.
YOU THINK THE BISHOPS would have figured all that out by now. And, by almost any measure, little of what the pope said needed to be done is being done -- at least effectively -- by the American Church. That is clear from the statistical data of the recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and it is clear to anyone who has toiled in the rocky fields of religious education or youth ministry.

You think a pope would have been content to stick to generalities and a review of the bright side of life. But he didn't.

Somebody had to say it. And, if you consider the speech and the context, you might conclude that the pope said a lot, indeed.

Can't wait to see what else Benedict has to say this week.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tips for the conscientious Catholic

This is offensive:

This is what the Church thinks is proper fare for cathedral museums:

Does everybody have all that straight? Uhhhhhhhhh, perhaps "straight" was a poor choice of words.

It used to be that "abomination of desolation" was just another scary Biblical phrase.