Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Benedict´s Burden. A Purification of the Church is Underway.

Pray for Our Pope

 From Catholic Online Editor Deacon Keith Fournier comes this article about the purification of the Roman Catholic Church that is currently underway. 
Pope Benedict XVI is trying to lead the Church through this time of purification. There is much that remains to be done. However, in addition to the understandable outrage and concern so many are feeling, he is also undergoing a terrible onslaught perpetrated by some who simply hate the Office he holds and the Catholic Church.Let us hear and respond to his request for prayer: "Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves."  His is a burden he cannot - he must not - bear alone.

CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) – I awakened Easter Monday morning fatigued. After serving the wonderful Liturgies of the Easter Triduum and hosting a houseful of family to celebrate the Resurrection, it was hard to get started, even with strong coffee. Just before Morning Prayer, I checked "Morning Joe", in order to catch the headlines.

The reporting concerning the sexual abuse crisis in the Church predominated, as it had throughout the entire Easter weekend. Two of  the personalities on this show annoyed me with their ill informed comments. First, there was the derision spewed by Mike Barnacle from my own birthplace, Boston, Massachusetts. He continued his tired rant against those whom he has taken to disparagingly calling the "Old Men in Rome."

His simplistic assessment of this tragic situation - suggesting that the "old men in Rome" are somehow the cause of the "problem" - is agenda driven. His positions on vital matters of Catholic faith, such as his failure to recognize the fundamental human right to life, reveal he is a dissenting Catholic. The first thing that went through my mind after hearing his comment was that Mike himself was looking, to use an expression from my dear departed Bostonian Father´s lexicon, a little "down in the tooth" himself.

Then there were the remarks of Joe Scarborough, the former Florida Congressman and host of the show. He intimated that he had been reluctant to address the issue because he is a Southern Baptist. But then he did just that, addressed the issue. He revealed what was at best a woefully misinformed view of Catholic teaching on the role of the Pope or at worst, a serious anti-Catholic streak. He went on a rant referring to the Pope and saying "no man is infallible." These comments from Scarborough are reminiscent of an old anti-Catholic canard.

No one claims the Pope is infallible in everything he says or does. Catholic teaching is that the Lord meant what He said when He promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide His Church in all truth.(See, e.g. John 16:13) Infallibility is a protection for the Church which recognizes that the Risen Lord continues His work through His Church, which is His Body. 

What the Catechism calls the "…charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals" is entrusted to the Church when she speaks on matters of faith and morals. (CCC #889 - 892) This occurs when the Pope, the successor of Peter, in union with the Bishops addresses a matter pertaining to faith and morals as the teaching office (Magisterium). Pope´s can and do make mistakes in prudential matters. However, we can count on the teaching office which they head, as the successor of Peter, because the Church is the Lord's plan and continues His redemptive mission.

My heart breaks for the victims of such evil committed at the hands of clergy. So too does the heart of this
Pope. That is clear in both his words and his actions. How quickly the Press has forgotten his moving comments when he visited the United States concerning clergy abuse. The handling of such matters in the United States under his watch has led to major overhaul in every Diocese, every seminary and every religious house.

His recent summoning of all of the Bishops of Ireland to Rome to render an account for the abuse which occurred years ago in that country similarly demonstrated his determination to root out this evil. His pastoral letter to all of the faithful of Ireland concerning this evil was straightforward and strong .

It was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, serving as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who took such a strong stance in response to the allegations against the now deceased founder of the Legion of Christ. Since assuming the Chair of Peter he has implemented a series of actions exposing the Rev. Marcial Maciel. A Commission just concluded their thorough investigation of the now proven perverse lifestyle, sins and evil acts of the founder. Strong remedial action is soon to be announced.

Attempts to associate Pope Benedict XVI with the current crisis - or to intimate that he knowingly failed to act – have all been rebutted. Yet, efforts to use this horrid crisis to attack him and the Catholic Church continue. I remember his first sermon at the first Mass of his pontificate. His request for our prayer now seems almost prophetic:

"My dear friends – at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another. [Pope Benedict XVI, 24 April, 2005] "

The words were reminiscent of the words of John Paul II on April 23, 2002 when he addressed this crisis: "We must be confident that this time of trial will bring a purification of the entire Catholic community, a purification that is urgently needed if the Church is to preach more effectively the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its liberating force. Now you must ensure that where sin increased, grace will all the more abound (cf. Rom 5:20). So much pain, so much sorrow must lead to a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate, and a holier Church"
Truth is the greatest antidote to the poison of sin. Light is the way to expose the darkness. The evidence concerning clergy who have committed egregious sins and criminal acts against children demand a strong response. They also call for an honest assessment of the condition of our beloved Church.  The "culture of death" has crept into the sanctuary. At the foundation of the "culture of death" is a failure to respect the dignity of every human person created in the Image of God. People are becoming commodities to be used and abused.

Finally, there is the "third rail" of the crisis. Many of the incidents being reported among the small minority of clergy who have sinned against their vowed celibacy, committed evil and criminal acts and caused the current crisis, involve homosexual acts. In many instances, the activities in which they engaged constitute "pederasty", a term derived from an ancient Greek word that referred to sexual relationships between men and boys.
The teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality is clear, compassionate, and true. Homosexual "orientation" is "disordered". However, homosexual temptation, like every other sexual temptation, is not, of itself, sin.How one responds to temptation is what matters. Grace is available to overcome temptation. Authentic outreaches to people with homosexual temptations, like "Courage" are reaching out to help.

Homosexual sexual acts are always sinful. They amount to a disordered "use" of the body of another for disordered, self centered "gratification." They also perpetuate the "culture of death". Such sinful sexual activity, when forced on a child by one in a position of power, and in particular by a member of the Clergy, is particularly evil and constitutes a physical and spiritual plundering.

There have been other times in the history of the Church when the clergy have been corrupted. God seems to begin His Spring cleaning in His own house. Perhaps, as the Apostle Peter wrote to the Church of the first millennium during another great missionary age: "… the time has come for judgment to begin with the House of God." (1 Peter 4:17) The perpetrators of these abuses must be stopped. They must face the consequences of their acts. The victims must be helped with healing and restitution.

After all, we believe that every man, woman and child ever created is called to live in the Church. She is to be the home of the whole human race. We need to make the Church a place of safety where all men, women and children can truly find redemption and discover the fullness of their destiny in Jesus Christ. The Church must be purified so that she can more effectively rise to the challenge of her missionary task in this Third Christian Millennium.

That means that her clergy (Priests, Bishops and Deacons) must all be "holy" as the Lord Himself is holy. If the Church is going to lead this contemporary age out of this contemporary "Culture of Death", she must truly be a "Culture of Life" and a civilization of love. Nothing less will do.

Pope Benedict XVI is trying to lead the Church through this time of purification. There is much that remains to be done. However, in addition to the understandable outrage and concern so many are feeling, he is now undergoing a terrible onslaught perpetrated by some who simply hate the Office he holds and the Catholic Church.

Let us hear and respond to his request for prayer: "Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves." His is a burden he cannot - he must not - bear alone. Together, let us show him that we have learned the meaning of his request that we "carry one another."

A Purification of the Church is Underway. Pray for our Pope.
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Deacon Keith Fournier asks that you join with us and help in this vital mission by sending this article to your family, friends, and neighbors and adding our link (www.catholic.org) to your own website, blog or social network. Let us broadcast, we are PROUD TO BE CATHOLIC!


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