Kevin Burke, LSW
February 21-24 2019 the bishops of the world will gather in Rome for an international summit to address the clergy abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.
The history of the tragic cover up and enabling of abusers by many Bishops and their Chanceries is now well documented. This has understandably attacked the moral authority of the Church and her leaders.
At a time in our nation’s history when we need the Church and its leaders to have a prophetic voice, especially in defending the lives of children in the womb, their voice has been muted by their complicity in the abuse of minors and vulnerable young adults.
The Church must embrace repentance and humility for the grievous sins of the past. But we also desperately need a Church that is strong and bold in proclaiming the truth.
Imagine if a Bishop stood up at the Vatican Summit and addressed his fellow clergy:
[ “My brother Bishops, We have grievously failed and sinned in our vocation to protect the vulnerable sheep entrusted to our care. This includes not only the minors and young adults abused by clergy, but also the the millions of preborn children that die in the womb each year. We have also failed to adequately warn our people of the emotional, spiritual and physical damage caused by their participation in the death of children in the womb.
We apologize to the victims, born and unborn that we have failed to protect from the wolves that desecrated and devoured their precious bodies, wounded their hearts and souls, and attacked their innocence.
Yes we have grievously failed in our vocation as Shepherds.
Yet, the way forward is not to compromise the moral and theological truth, and teaching authority, that has been entrusted to us by Jesus Christ. The way forward is to enter into a time of even greater commitment to defend the life of the vulnerable children entrusted to our care, born and unborn.
We commit to addressing the causes of the abuse of minors and vulnerable young adults with unrelenting clarity and honesty. We will listen to the victims, share their stories, and if they are open, guide them to healing programs for abuse.
We commit in the same way to expand our preaching, teaching and activism, and empower our clergy and laity, to defend the life of our brothers and sisters in the womb.
As leaders in the Church, we will commit to a more radical witness to stand in solidarity with the children in the womb, and support and to empower those movements that are working to end abortion and heal those wounded by their participation in the death of the unborn.
We owe it to our people, and to Christ our King, to be a prophetic witness to the dignity of preborn children, and protect those minors and young adults entrusted to our care.” ]
Hope and Healing for the Future
As laity, we need to have an ongoing expectation of accountability and transparency from our spiritual leaders. No more secrecy, cover-ups and obfuscation. Directly confront the institutional issues, and culture that tolerate and perpetuate this evil.
This does not mean pressuring for change in the Church to promote our own political and ideological agendas. It does mean honestly looking at common themes we find in many abuse situations, and the dynamics within the Church, and among her clergy, that can enable and perpetuate such abuse.
While remaining strong in our lay witness, we can still ground all our words, action and prayer in the deepest humility, knowing our own sin.
Most of us have failed to do enough to protect the unborn. Perhaps we have failed at times in our personal vocations to protect those entrusted to our care, and in other ways have aborted God’s will in our lives.
St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us.
Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.