I dedicate this piece to all of the victims of clerical sex abuse, praying for the healing to which they are entitled, and to the numerous faithful priests and bishops who have remained true to their vocations and vows, even amid facing collective calumny and an onslaught of backlash for others’ grave sins.
Autumn is upon us. This is actually the first change in seasons since the news regarding Archbishop McCarrick broke on June 20, right as the spring was on the brink of transitioning into the summer. As the Church — and its credibility — has devolved into tumult at various levels, this is a time if ever there was one for cool heads and rational thinking. Admitting the unfathomably deleterious impact of some priests' grievous errors that are already documented and need not be reiterated here, we must concede that the scandalous summer of 2018 featured a set of realities that the Church (especially the hierarchy) essentially inherited, rather than inducted.
One of the most objectively purposeful pieces that I have read is an Aug. 28 post by Mark Gray at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) blog Nineteen Sixty-Four, titled “Pain Never Disappears from Unhealed Wounds.” Gray’s analytical piece indicates, in detail and with various cogent charts, what [has] happened, and when, including when the offenses were reported and addressed. I strongly recommend that the faithful, and anyone of goodwill, take the time to read through and impart CARA's findings, because while it may be tempting to evaluate this circumstance — as disturbing as it is and should be seen — as a spiritual earthquake, the most vast damage actually already occurred decades ago, and is fortunately coming to light, albeit more as aftershocks. In other words, while one abuse case is one far too many, the Church has already been learning, and will continue to learn, how to confront this debacle, rather than returning to former ways of dealing with priests who had committed deviant sexual acts, particularly against minors.
And as we call for this figure's resignation or that figure's imprisonment, we should also pray for their repentance. As the Lord reminds us in the lead-up to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, at the beginning of Luke 15, “I tell you, in just the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who have no need of repentance” (Luke 15:7).