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Catholic Priests And Young Boys

August 17, 2018

On most days nothing truly stuns me anymore.  But the news this week about the level of pedophilia in the Catholic Church was nothing short of shocking.

Even as apologists for the Vatican and the clergy continue peddling the myth that the Catholic Church’s pedophile scandals simply reflect society’s problems, the weight of evidence is overwhelming proof to the contrary. Thousands of American priests weaponized faith, as Mr. Shapiro said, taking advantage of their status and access to children to prey on them. They left uncountable thousands of victims in their wake.

Pope Francis lately has made some positive moves, including accepting the resignations of bishops in Chile and removing Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, following allegations of abuse. But the pope has proved unwilling and possibly unable to take the sweeping steps required to implement a genuine zero-tolerance policy. In the United States, the church continues to block legislative reforms in state capitals that would allow victims and prosecutors to seek justice for abuse that occurred decades ago. Despite the massive landscape of sexual assaults painted by the grand jury, it produced criminal charges against just two priests — both because many of the accused predator priests are already dead and because most of the allegations are too old to prosecute under state law.

The Pennsylvania report is the most comprehensive X-ray to date of the church’s corruption in one state. It should not be the last. Even after more than 15 years of revelations, there is more to know — and much more to fix.

Perhaps The New York Times had the best opinion article on this dreadful account of what happens in the Catholic Church.

All this anger may seem like an un-Christian scourge, tearing the church apart. In fact, it is good, healthy and clarifying.

In the Gospels, Jesus is described as angry many times, a stark contrast to the portrait many have of him as a doe-eyed man of peace. Jesus excoriates the disciples for their lack of faith (“You faithless and perverse generation!”). Most famously, he makes a “whip of cords” and chases the “money changers” out of the temple in Jerusalem, upending their tables in a dramatic act that helped to lead to his execution by Roman authorities.

Anger is an important part of the life and ministry of Jesus. And so anger should be part of the Catholic life — with Jesus as a guide.

Jesus’ anger is always a righteous anger, never on behalf of himself, but in reaction to how he sees others being treated. Even as he is dying on the cross, he refuses to be angry with the Roman soldiers who have crucified him, choosing instead to pray for them: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus’ anger is, in a word, unselfish and constructive, intent on doing something, effecting a change.

Those Catholics who are feeling angry today are, in the Christian worldview, feeling God’s anger. This is, as I see it, God’s primary way of acting in the world: through our human emotions. How else would God act, how else would God intervene, how else would God move to change things, other than to rouse in us a burning desire to upend the tables of the clerical culture and chase out all those who have defamed and abused the trust placed in them?

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