Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, August 31, 2018

We Must Learn The Scandal's Lessons

I remember first running into "the scandal" via some of the far-right Catholic venues like The Wanderer (to which my late grandmother was a subscriber, to our occasional annoyance) back in the 1990s. In those morally outraged pages, I read stories about priests attending NAMBLA meetings or cruising gay bars and perfidious bishops ignoring their sins because they didn't really believe in the Church's moral teaching anyway.

At the time, it seemed to me that the solution was simple: Bishops who were 'progressive' on moral teaching needed to be cleared out, and then solid bishops who believed with the Church would clear out the sinful priests.

As the scandal blew wide open in the early 2000s, and even more so when the swirling accusations about depravity of Legionaries of Christ founder Father Maciel proved to be true, it became clear that the answer was more complex.

It became clear that even some church leaders who claimed to fully support the teachings of the Church were in fact utterly depraved, or at least willing to cover up and protect the crimes of those who were.

Among the abusers and their protectors we have found both 'liberals' and 'conservatives'. One clear lesson which everyone of good will in the Church should have learned by now is that we can never ignore an accusation because someone is on the "our side" in the various theological, political, and liturgical splits within the Church.

This is what I find so dispiriting about the current, highly partisan wrangle surrounding the accusation that Pope Francis knew that former-Cardinal McCarrick had been accused of forcing himself on seminarians and priests under his jurisdiction, and yet give him an significantly more influential place in his circle than McCarrick had enjoyed under Benedict, who allegedly put McCarrick under some, clearly insufficient, degree of restrictions due to the accusations against him. (Up until last year, McCarrick had not been accused of abusing children, only of using his power to sexually impose himself on men under his control.)

If these charges that Francis chose to ignore accusations against McCarrick are untrue, they are a despicable and the man who made them should be disgraced for making them. But if they are true, they suggest that Pope Francis has still not learned the urgent lessons of the last twenty years: that we can never choose to disbelieve or ignore accusations of sexual abuse leveled against someone because he is on "our side" of some factional divide. If that's the case, the pope must learn those lessons, must repent, and must change his ways or resign his office.

However, anyone who responds to these serious accusations simply through a partisan "our guy" vs "their guy" lens rather than insisting on getting to the bottom of the question of how someone like McCarrick rose to the very highest levels in the Catholic Church even while rumors swirled about his forcing men under his control into his bed, is committing the same errors which has allowed and perpetuated abuse for far too long.

If we have one duty as Christians, it is to follow Christ. I cannot believe that it is following Christ to cover up the abuse someone has committed or enabled just because he is on "our side".


Agnes said...

This is so very, very sad and upsetting - that one even needs to state these things. Growing up in an era influenced by Vatican II and Pope John Paul II, I have always felt that those very serious sins of the Church/the clergy are in the past and although we may need to apologize for/acknowledge them, they don't really burden the Church at present, that we have grown past them. Seeing these horrendous crimes and the suspicion that they were, in fact, covered up by priests, bishops, perhaps even by the present pope - it makes it even more necessary to cling to the teachings about the Church and to commit ourselves even more strongly to follow Christ himself, to remember not to be conceited because everyone can fall, to direct our thoughts to withstand the temptation of disappointment and disillusionment.

Son Mom said...

I can ditto everything you said here - right down to having had a grandmother who subscribed to “The Wanderer,” LOL.