Although there are countless other things I could write about for one of my first blog posts, it seems as though it would be dishonest in some way to write of anything without saying a word about the horrible things that have been going on in the Church for the past many years—the egregious acts committed by trusted priests, bishops, and even cardinals against young innocent victims, and the silencing of the victims and the cover given to those offenders by those in authority. These are the things that continue to be on every Catholic person’s mind every day since The Grand Jury Report came out just over one month ago.
As one who only just came into full communion with the Catholic Church at Pentecost this year, the horrors of the acts revealed in the Grand Jury Report and the deliberate defense and cover given to these offenders by clergy brought me quite quickly back to the brutal reality that many clergy in the Church care nothing for its members, that many in the clergy, including high-ranking members, create a culture of abuse and of power against their own flocks and against their Lord, the reality that many do not even believe Our Lord is indeed Lord, having no fear of him. The feelings of anger and betrayal are raw, for the things that were done to these young children and young men and women were not simply crimes—they were disgusting, twisted crimes committed by the very men people ought to be able to trust. These were offenses committed by the ones whose vocations it is to offer true life to the Body of Christ in the sacraments and to offer spiritual counsel. Instead, though, they have committed sacrilege against Jesus himself in the ways they hurt His Body, all with the support of high-ranking clergy. This is devastating, absolutely sickening, and it must be addressed.
With all that said, I have been so moved by the responses of so many of my Catholic brothers and sisters. Outraged and hurting, Christians are demanding actions be taken to get rid of the rot and stink that has been forming in the Church. Moreover, people have been calling their brothers and sisters to pray and to fast in reparation for the sins that have been committed against the Church—that is, the whole Body of Christ, which is the lay people and the clergy alike—and against the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Making reparation through prayer and fasting simply means that we offer up our prayer and fasting to God that He would repair what is broken, hear our prayers and console those who are hurting. We make reparation to Jesus for the increasing pain and sorrow He feels as a consequence of these sins against His Body, as a consequence of the ways He has been abused alongside the victims of the scandal—especially in the particular ways His Name and His Body were abused and used by the priests to abuse the victims. And we make reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the ways His Body has been mocked and abused in the Sacrament of the Eucharist because of these priests. I have found this adoration prayer from Fatima (called The Angel’s Prayer) to be particularly appropriate and worth remembering for this time:
Most Holy Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.
We can go to God in adoration, ourselves broken, and offer to God Himself, who gave up His only Son for love of us, knowing His Son would be mocked, His Body broken, His Blood poured out, and ask that God would mend what is broken in the Church, that He would take the sins that have offended Jesus and all their effects and blot them out, that He would purify His Bride, the Church and make her holy.
People are falling away because of bad priests, but Jesus asks us as He asked the Twelve, “Will you also go away?” But we must answer with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6: 67-69 RSV-2CE). I do not know what will happen as a result of this scandal, but I know that we must not abandon Jesus, whatever happens.. We must instead cling to him ever more closely, for He bears this burden with us. We are not alone. He bears these sins and wounds with the Church and still turns it all into Life.
Here is a homily in response to the scandal that I found particularly moving from a priest, Fr. Nick Monco, to his parish.