Faith In The Midst of Scandal
If you followed me on social media, you would see that I have not posted anything regarding the sexual abuse scandal. I have not posted not because I am not confused, angry, frustrated, sad, and disappointed. Rather, I could find the words to express my thoughts. Others have posted on the issue and I felt that my voice would be a repetitive clanging cymbal echoing their sentiments. However St. Gregory the Great once said,
“It is better that scandals arise than the truth be suppressed.”
Hence I will no longer keep silent on this issue; I will express my confusion, anger, sadness, and disappointment
Confusion leading up to the scandal
The application of Amoris Laetitia confused me. I struggled to understand the intercommunion statement given by the German bishops. When Pope Francis made the death penalty inadmissible, I began to question. Yet I continued to trust that the Holy Spirit would guide Church’s magisterium. I continued to believe that these events were an evolution of understanding.
Confusion turned to anger
My confusion turned to anger when I heard about Cardinal McCarrick’s sexual abuse. After I read the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, I became disappointed and sad. Then it went from bad to worse. The media released Viganò”s testimony.
Amidst the onslaught of emotions, I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “Why has the Vatican been so silent”. My second instinct was to run, to leave and never look back.
But The Lord Spoke
As I went to my Friday’s adoration hour, partly out of habit, As I prayed for the Church, the Lord spoke:
People are running away because they can’t love my bride. She may be a prostitute, but I am redeeming her, just like I’m redeeming you.
For like-minded confused and angry Catholic like me, I offer the following advice
Pray and Know the Word of God
We are fighting against darkness and evil in the church and in our lives. Thus, we need to allow prayer and the Word of God to equip us to put on the armor of God.
If you are a victim or know a victim, then it will be hard to view God as a just and loving father. Here the beauty of the Church shines. You need not say something original, you can recite rote prayers such as the rosary. The key is constancy.
We also need to know the word of God. St. Paul in Ephesians describes it as a sword. It is our only weapon. We need to know what it says, not only to hold ourselves accountable but others as well.
Go to Adoration
Jesus is there waiting in the monstrance for you. When describing the Blessed Sacrament, St John Mary Vianney once said,
I just look at him and he looks at me
I always feel more at peace after my holy hour.
Channel Your Righteous Anger
You are angry. You have every right to be angry. Yet, what you do with that anger will define you as a person. Anger is an emotion. After all, Jesus had righteous anger at the money changers, who defiled his church, but it cannot rule over us or consume us.
”Correction given in anger, however, tempered by reason, never has so much effect as that which is given altogether without anger; for the reasonable soul being naturally subject to reason, it is a mere tyranny which subjects it to passion, and whereinsoever reason is led by passion it becomes odious, and its just rule obnoxious.” St. Francis de Sales
The laity needs to correct The Church. This correction is much more effective without anger.
Instead of demanding Pope Francis to resign, we should put our energy and effort into demanding a release of the documents and independent investigations. We need to demand a statement of contrition from all leader. Furthermore, continuously strive for the virtue of persistence.
Practically speaking, one can write to church leadership especially your bishop. They need to know how we feel and how the scandal effects us. The Sienna project offers letter templets as well as bishop addresses to make it easier to write your own letter.
Join a Lay Ecclesial Community
A lay ecclesial community consists of Catholic lay people, who come together to
“strive in a common endeavor to foster a more perfect life, to promote public worship or Christian doctrine, or to exercise other works of the apostolate such as initiatives of evangelization, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with a Christian spirit.”1
These communities exist outside of the church’s hierarchy. Lay-led communities, are not a substitute for Mass but can help combat loneliness and despair.
It is hard to have faith as a Catholic, but it is even harder to have faith in the midst of a scandal. We must remember that the devil comes to seek, kill, and destroy, but Jesus comes to give life. We must place our faith, hope, and trust in Jesus. We must demand that The Church act justly so that Christ may transform his bride. We, the laity, must persevere in holiness, putting on the armor of God wielding faith and truth. Faith and truth come from prayer and knowing the word of God. We should strive to build lay driven faith communities. Theses communities function as places of renewal.
- Card. Stanisław Ryłko, “Preface,” in Directory of Associations, Published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity ↩