Scandal in the Church
May the peace of Christ and our dear mother Mary be with you! I know that many of you have become disheartened with some of the scandal within the Church. It can be frustrating to watch all these horrible actions like people that were prominant preachers speaking against the Church, molestation, cover-ups, child pornography, stealing from church accounts and more. These things can be extremely hard to answer for as Catholics and even make some of us ashamed to be associated with the Church.
However, I write to all of you to tell you encourage you not be disheartened. In Christ is our hope and our peace.
Through out all of this, we must remember three important things. First, we must remember that scandal in the Church is nothing new. It goes back to the time of Jesus Himself, when Judas sold Him out for 30 pieces of silver. The Judas’ of today sold Christ for the same or even a lesser price: for fame, to get ahead, to protect their name, etc. Even though the time and actions are different, the result is the same. Jesus is betrayed. The thing is however, that regardless of how many Judases there are, we must remember Christ’s promise about His Church. That is, “The gates of Hell will not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18).” These scandals literally bring the gates of hell to the forefront of the Church, but we know that Christ is our rock, our strength, and Head of the Mystical Body, the Church (see Eph. 5:23). So as long as we stay with the Church, we stay with Christ. And if we stay with Christ, even the gates of hell themselves have no power over us! We must always remember:
You don’t leave Peter because of Judas
Peter is whom Christ promised to build His Church upon and so St. Clement could say, “Where there is Peter, there is the Church.”
Secondly, we must remember that man is made in God’s image, not the other way around. Bishops, priests, etc. all are men and we know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).” They are men, they are not God, therefore they fall and sin just as all of us do. Just because they are ordained, they do not automatically become perfect. They must “work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12)” just as we do. Imperfect man is striving to become perfect like God and this is our journey here on earth. We can not do it by ourselves and God knew this which is why we must pray, receive God’s grace, and go to His Sacraments and mercy.
Every time we pray an Our Father, we pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That means we pray for God to judge us with the same measuring stick that we judge others and this includes the priests that have scandalized the Church. We must be merciful to them just as we want God to be merciful to us when we fall. Am I saying that we should just ignore their sin? No, I’m saying we must image God as we were all made to do and FORGIVE their sin. In this we find our humanity because we are the only creatures that were made in God’s image and likeness, and in realizing our humanity we find our peace.
Also, in realizing our humanity, we can realize our weakness and imperfection and seek help in God. Christ tells us, “There is only one who is good (Matt. 19:17).” That one is God. So if God is goodness itself, we will be unable to derive any good from anything, especially these scandals, if we keep God out of the picture. Thus, we must humble ourselves and focus not on the clergys’ sins and failings, but on the divinity of God’s mercy and compassion. All of which He gives us generously through grace, forgiveness, and the Church.
This is a great message of hope and courage. A call to not lay the blame and responsibility on the clergy and their mistakes, but to let Christ take up this cross and redeem it for His greater glory. This is how we must respond to these scandals, not in bitterness and disgust, but with love. I hope this helps and let us always remember to ask God for and image Him in His mercy.