Keep the Faith

There is no shortage of opinions regarding the current scandal facing the Church. Some days it appears that everyone wants to share their views, some of which can be extremely personal and emotional.

One woman recounted how she and her sister (at the age of 12) narrowly avoided what she perceived to be the sexual advances of their parish priest. The woman also said that nearly everyone in her family – her three children and numerous grandchildren – had left the Catholic Church. At first she felt anguish over their apparent loss of faith. But now, after considering her own experience and witnessing the current scandal, she is “relieved” that none of her grandchildren will ever be exposed to a priest.

Another subscriber to our publication wrote in to cancel his subscription. Not an uncommon occurrence, until he went on to say that he will never allow his wife or any of his children to ever set foot again in a Catholic Church.

What a sad commentary on our current state of affairs.

Obviously, the Church, especially the Church in the U.S., is at an important intersection in her history. The direction her leaders take in the next few weeks will go a long way toward healing the rift that has emerged between those in authority and those in the pews. In some cases, the damage is irreversible. Hopefully, in the majority of instances, a few positive steps will be enough to keep the faith.

As part of their preparation for the June meeting of the American bishops, the U.S. participants at the recent Vatican-U.S. summit on clergy sexual abuse in Rome presented the following proposals:

1. We propose to send the respective congregations of the Holy See a set of national standards which the Holy See will properly review (recognitio), in which essential elements for policies dealing with the sexual abuse of minors in dioceses and religious institutes in the United States are set forth.

2. We will propose that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recommend a special process for the dismissal from the clerical state of a priest who has become notorious and is guilty of the serial, predatory, sexual abuse of minors.

3. While recognizing that the Code of Canon Law already contains a judicial process for the dismissal of priests guilty of sexually abusing minors, we will also propose a special process for cases which are not notorious but where the diocesan bishop considers the priest a threat for the protection of children and young people, in order to avoid grave scandal in the future and to safeguard the common good of the church.

4. We will propose an apostolic visitation of seminaries and religious houses of formation, giving special attention to their admission requirements and the need for them to teach Catholic moral doctrine in its integrity.

5. We will propose that the bishops of the United States make every effort to implement the challenge of the Holy Father that the present crisis “must lead to a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate, and a holier church” by calling for deeper holiness in the church in the United States, including ourselves as bishops, the clergy, the religious and the faithful.

6. We propose that the bishops of the United States set aside a day for prayer and penance throughout the church in the United States, in order to implore reconciliation and the renewal of ecclesial life.

(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)

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