“In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops,” the Pope said.
I have said little about the sexual assault scandals that continue to rock the Mother Church of Western Christendom – that is, the Church of Rome – because I do not like to draw attention to scandals in other branches of Christendom. It rarely does any good, and frequently tends to result in more heat than light being generated.
It is also likely to cause additional scandal, in that it can lead some to judge the Roman Church as a whole in a bad light, when in fact the majority of its people, its clergy, and undoubtedly its bishops are (while being human like the rest of us, and so prone to faults, foibles, and failings) basically godly Christian folk, trying to do the best they can.
But when none other than Il Papa himself – the Holy Father, Pontifex Maximus, the Bishop of Rome, the Pope – goes so far as to all but defend scandal, as he does in this piece, or attempt to explain it away, appearing to care more for the reputations of bishops than the trauma to the victims, it becomes hard to completely ignore it.
In this case, I am aided by this very excellent response from a “trad” (traditional, orthodox) Catholic organization, The Order of Lepanto. I do not have to critique the Holy See, because some of its own people have done a better job of that than I could have – and it is far more appropriate coming from them than me, anyway.
Posting on Facebook, the Order writes,
“We had been hopeful with yesterday’s reports of answers coming from the Vatican on the abuse/cover-up scandal. However, the Pope’s homily today was an exercise in counter-attack and not one of pastoral care: “It seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins so they are visible in order to scandalize the people.”
Let’s look at the errors with this line of thinking –
1. Thinking that Satan wants to expose criminals to justice instead of continuing to hide them and destroy more young lives.
2. Punishing bishops who are guilty of crimes is not the work of Satan – it is the virtue of Justice and the work of the Holy Spirit.
3. Saying “we bishops are all sinners” falsely compares the smaller sins we all commit with truly heinous sins like rape, sacrilege, etc. which deserve severe punishment.
4. Uncovering sins is not the biggest scandal we face as a Church. It’s the scandal of the coverup, of being lied to by our shepherds.
It is unfortunate to receive the message from Pope Francis that he thinks his job is to “cover” the sins of the bishops so they don’t “scandalize” the laity.
We will continue to pray for the Pope and for the victims, but we also need to have full disclosure. Nothing else will suffice to begin the healing process.
As I say, I could not possibly have said it better – or even as well – and so I will let that stand without further comment. May God bless us all. Pray for me, a sinner.
Nota Bene – On the Order of Lepanto: “The Order of Lepanto is a lay apostolate dedicated to outreach to Catholic men through a unique combination of martial arts and faith” (from the website). The Order
“seeks to tap the masculine spirit that God has endowed men with, giving them a masculine activity to engage in together – learning the fighting styles of the Knights of the Medieval and Renaissance time periods. In much the same way as Asian martial arts tend to dovetail well into Eastern spirituality, these skills (Western Martial Arts or WMA) were honed by people who were committed Catholic or Christian men, which caused this fighting style to fit well with Catholic theology and practice.”
Definitely interesting! Sadly, they are (almost) exclusively in Texas, and I am in Maryland… also, I don’t know how they’d feel about an Anglican! But a most interesting and, I think, admirable project.