Finally, the Vatican Summit to deal with the problem of clerical sexual abuse began in Rome, preceded by another communication by Archbishop Viganò asking why Pope Francis has named well-known homosexuals to strategic positions of responsibility. A CNN correspondent, Delia Gallagher opened fire by presenting a hypothetical question that most of us have asked ourselves: Could it be that the problem sexual abuses in the clergy is not being dealt with because homosexuals are now influential enough to control the actions of the curia? Could it be that those who should investigate the matter are up to their Roman collars in it and have no interest in putting an end to the crimes?
Cardinal Cupich was not done yet putting out that fire, when Cardinals Raymond Burke and Walter Brandmüller wrote to the bishops gathered in Rome asking them to deal with the elephant in the bazaar: there is an influential homosexual clique that has a militant homosexual agenda. Burke and Brandmüller asked them to bring that to a swift end. Well, I hope this one works better than those “dubia” presented in the wake of Amoris Laetitia. Those important dubia received the treatment that many Argentine bureaucrats know how to dispense: “Please leave it on my desk, I will ignore it at once!”
Additionally, a gay journalist with a keen sense of timing, Frederic Martel, put the hammer down (pun intended) by presenting a book filled with interviews that seem to confirm what we have known for years: the epidemic of clerical abuse is a consequence of ordaining thousands of homosexuals to the priesthood. The problem is not the celibacy rule, pedophilia, or clericalism: the problem are homosexual priests. Most of us have concluded that much months if not years ago.
The Church is important
“The world was made for the sake of the Church,” (The Shepherd of Hermas) and that has some important consequences. Compared to the Church, that thing “the martyrs call ‘the world’” —to use Yeats’ words— is but a passing shadow: “the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded [by God] as dust on the scales.” (Isaiah 40:15) We understand the Church has a divine purpose, a hard reality that will not pass away no matter how many blows the world may direct at her. If the Church is in good shape, the world will be in good shape. If the Church is weak and troubled, the world will be weak and troubled.
Holy priests are important also
The Encyclical Sacerdotails Caelibatus of Pope Paul VI, is a very thorough document that basically examines all the ramifications of what St. Paul taught in his Letter to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:22-26 NIV) In this time of crisis, when we desperately need to find the right direction, knowing the value and fruitfulness of a priest’s purity is a good place to start.
Priests offer their vows of chastity, purity, and poverty as a sacrifice to God. God will not be outdone in generosity because He is primarily a benefactor, the maker and dispenser of all that is good and holy. By accepting the unpolluted sacrifice of a holy priest, God gives back to that priest a much bigger grace: the power to inseminate the Church spiritually. The priest becomes, through the Sacraments, a conduit for the Church to receive God’s goodness. Think of the example of St. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney and what he was able to do in France after the French Revolution had devastated the country. In him you will see the power of a holy priesthood.
But this wonderful gift turns into a devastating weapon when a priest is unfaithful. In Judas Iscariot we see the prime example of what a bad bishop or priest can bring about. Not only was Judas instrumental in causing Jesus’ death; Judas was used by the devil to send the entire nation into a collision course with God’s purpose, unleashing centuries of suffering on his own people.
In our days, the likes of Maciel, McCarrick, Geoghan, and others are going to experience the wrath of God if they do not repent. Those have abused the trust placed in them to satisfy their basest passions. Now they must do penance commensurate with the awful sins they have committed. But neither them nor the Church can escape the consequences of their heinous crimes.
That is why it is imperative for all of us to offer reparation for their sexual abuse and all offenses against God’s Holy Name. I do not have any hope that this summit can solve the problems at hand. In fact, I know only God in his infinite wisdom and power can undo the damage done and stop the disaster that is unfolding all around us.
Five hundred years ago, a saintly Bishop, Juan de Zumarraga was faced with an unsolvable problem. He wrote a letter to King Charles V stating: “unless there is supernatural help, the land is lost.” He did receive that supernatural help. After Zumarraga prayed his heart out, Our Lady of Guadalupe came from Heaven to save Mexico.
We should all follow Zumarraga’s example, begging God to have mercy on us and on the whole world: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Note: Please read this excellent article by Fr. Gerald Murray in The Catholic Thing: Thank you, Cardinal Mueller.
February 21, St. Peter Damian
St. Peter Damian (1007-1072 A.D.) was born in Ravenna, Italy, the youngest of a large and noble yet poor family. After his birth his mother initially refused to nurse him due to the strain he would put on the family, and he nearly died. He was later orphaned and suffered from extreme poverty. One brother adopted him, but neglected him and treated him like a slave. Another brother, a priest, recognizing that Peter had great intelligence, took him in and provided for his education. Peter excelled in his studies and in religious piety. By the time he was twenty-five he became a professor famous for his work in theology and canon law. Bothered by the distractions of university life, at twenty-eight he left his position to become a Benedictine monk and to lead a quiet life of fervent prayer and self-mortification. He lived during a time of great corruption in the Church, and became heavily involved in the controversies and crises of the day, advocating for reform and greater discipline in religious life. He was an influential figure, a friend and adviser to both popes and emperors, and was made a bishop and cardinal. Due to his academic prowess and prolific theological writings, St. Peter Damian was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1823. His feast day is February 21. (Your Morning Offering for February 21, 2019)
Most relevant to our own age is Damian’s famous Liber Gomorrhianus, or “Book of Gomorrah,” a long letter in the form of a libellus addressed to Pope St. Leo IX sometime between 1049 and 1054. The book, which is written against an epidemic of sodomy “raging like a cruel beast within the sheepfold of Christ” has deep resonance with us today, and offers many insights into the contemporary crisis in the priesthood. Damian’s opening words almost seem addressed to the contemporary Church, as he warns the pope that the “cancer of sodomitic impurity” is threatening the integrity of the clergy itself, and urges him to act with all speed, adding that “unless the force of the Apostolic See opposes it as quickly as possible, there is no doubt that when it finally wishes for the unbridled evil to be restrained, it may not be able to halt the fury of its advance.” (Quote from the article in Catholic World Report, St. Peter Damian’s battle against clerical homosexuality offers useful lessons for today)