Posted by: sisterbernice | April 16, 2010

Pope, Birthday, Abuse

Today is the Pope’s birthday.  I am contemplating this – how his birthday this year falls on a Friday and how when he visited the US we celebrated his birthday with joy.  We felt the American abuse scandal was on its way to being healed.  It was and still is – abuse is down but  – we cannot undo and this healing will be long.  Something to contemplate – one of the many reasons that the current scandal is occurring is because there is more openness.  It is too bad that we cannot celebrate the Pope’s birthday with the same joy as 2008, especially when he has been the one who opened the doors to new ways, only to be blamed.

I find it ironic that some always blame him for not apologizing when he has and not doing anything when he has and does.  Why?   Why is he the scapegoat?  Among the many complex and related answers to this question is precisely because he represents what people hate in the Church and what was lost when people are spiritually abused – the belief that love, hope, forgiveness and prayer is action and so is penance.  And so let us continue the healing through the mysterious yet powerful action called prayer.

I am sure that the Holy Father practices what he preaches and is offering his Friday penances up for the victims of sexual abuse as well as for the church.  Some won’t believe that but I do.  Yesterday he spoke of penance, other times he has as well.

So, today, I again offer the sorrowful mysteries, the Pope’s prayer for healing, and the prayer of St. Michael.  I also offer the Knights of Columbus Novena for the Pope prayer.  He is the solution, not the problem.   The more people complain, fight and offer their last breath trashing him, the more we know this.

Knights of Columbus Novena here:

http://www.kofc.org/un/eb/en/papalnovena/index.html

As stated earlier – the Pope spent his birthday in America in 2008 speaking to us about the scandal.   He did not speak about it at every event, and he spoke about it in different dimensions at every event.  It should be noted that the Pope always frames his thoughts in the larger context of the gospel readings and so the fragments here should be re-examined in light of the whole.  He is not a sound bite guy.   I’ve bolded some things for us to think about.

Some papal statements:

“It is a great suffering for the Church in the United States and for the Church in general, for me personally, that this could happen. If I read the history of these events, it is difficult for me to understand how it was possible for priests to fail in this way in the mission to give healing, to give God’s love to these children. I am ashamed and we will do everything possible to ensure that this does not happen in future. I think we have to act on three levels: the first is at the level of justice and the political level. I will not speak at this moment about homosexuality: this is another thing. We will absolutely exclude paedophiles from the sacred ministry; it is absolutely incompatible, and whoever is really guilty of being a paedophile cannot be a priest. So at this first level we can do justice and help the victims, because they are deeply affected; these are the two sides of justice: one, that paedophiles cannot be priests and the other, to help in any possible way the victims. Then there is a pastoral level. The victims will need healing and help and assistance and reconciliation: this is a big pastoral engagement and I know that the Bishops and the priests and all Catholic people in the United States will do whatever possible to help, to assist, to heal. We have made a visitation of the seminaries and we will do all that is possible in the education of seminarians for a deep spiritual, human and intellectual formation for the students. Only sound persons can be admitted to the priesthood and only persons with a deep personal life in Christ and who have a deep sacramental life. So, I know that the Bishops and directors of seminarians will do all possible to have a strong, strong discernment because it is more important to have good priests than to have many priests. This is also our third level, and we hope that we can do, and have done and will do in the future, all that is possible to heal these wounds.” (On the plane trip to the US. April 15, 2008 at (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2008/april/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20080415_intervista-usa_en.html)

“Among the countersigns to the Gospel of life found in America and elsewhere is one that causes deep shame: the sexual abuse of minors. Many of you have spoken to me of the enormous pain that your communities have suffered when clerics have betrayed their priestly obligations and duties by such gravely immoral behavior. As you strive to eliminate this evil wherever it occurs, you may be assured of the prayerful support of God’s people throughout the world. Rightly, you attach priority to showing compassion and care to the victims. It is your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust, to foster healing, to promote reconciliation and to reach out with loving concern to those so seriously wronged.

Responding to this situation has not been easy and, as the President of your Episcopal Conference has indicated, it was “sometimes very badly handled”. Now that the scale and gravity of the problem is more clearly understood, you have been able to adopt more focused remedial and disciplinary measures and to promote a safe environment that gives greater protection to young people. While it must be remembered that the overwhelming majority of clergy and religious in America do outstanding work in bringing the liberating message of the Gospel to the people entrusted to their care, it is vitally important that the vulnerable always be shielded from those who would cause harm. In this regard, your efforts to heal and protect are bearing great fruit not only for those directly under your pastoral care, but for all of society.

If they are to achieve their full purpose, however, the policies and programs you have adopted need to be placed in a wider context. Children deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships. They should be spared the degrading manifestations and the crude manipulation of sexuality so prevalent today. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person. This brings us back to our consideration of the centrality of the family and the need to promote the Gospel of life. What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today? We need to reassess urgently the values underpinning society, so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike. All have a part to play in this task – not only parents, religious leaders, teachers and catechists, but the media and entertainment industries as well. Indeed, every member of society can contribute to this moral renewal and benefit from it. Truly caring about young people and the future of our civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to flourish. It falls to you, as pastors modelled upon Christ, the Good Shepherd, to proclaim this message loud and clear, and thus to address the sin of abuse within the wider context of sexual mores. Moreover, by acknowledging and confronting the problem when it occurs in an ecclesial setting, you can give a lead to others, since this scourge is found not only within your Dioceses, but in every sector of society. It calls for a determined, collective response.” (Message to U.S. Bishops at Vespers, April 16, 2008 at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2008/april/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20080416_bishops-usa_en.html )

“It is in the context of this hope born of God’s love and fidelity that I acknowledge the pain which the Church in America has experienced as a result of the sexual abuse of minors. No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse. It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention. Nor can I adequately describe the damage that has occurred within the community of the Church. Great efforts have already been made to deal honestly and fairly with this tragic situation, and to ensure that children – whom our Lord loves so deeply (cf. Mk 10:14), and who are our greatest treasure – can grow up in a safe environment. These efforts to protect children must continue. Yesterday I spoke with your Bishops about this. Today I encourage each of you to do what you can to foster healing and reconciliation, and to assist those who have been hurt. Also, I ask you to love your priests, and to affirm them in the excellent work that they do. And above all, pray that the Holy Spirit will pour out his gifts upon the Church, the gifts that lead to conversion, forgiveness and growth in holiness.” (Homily at National Stadium, April 17, 2008 at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20080417_washington-stadium_en.html

Happy Birthday Holy Father

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