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A Turning Point For The Church?…We Shall See

August 4, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By JOSEPH MATT

This past week one of the highest-ranking American leaders in the Catholic hierarchy, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, resigned from the College of Cardinals and was suspended from public ministry because of credible sex abuse charges. Many in the laity who had been convinced that the sex abuse crisis within the Church was in its latter stages and reaching a conclusion have been fooled again, but this time they are not standing still. The rage of the laity is beyond measurement at this time. Some are calling for special commissions, special prosecutors, and total withholding of funds for the Church.

This outrage is totally justified after decades of countless diocesan scandals that have entailed multiple lawsuits, cover-ups, and payoffs resulting in many bankrupt dioceses. These events have contributed to the erosion of trust, hope, and loyalty of the faithful Catholics who thought the Church had turned the corner and moved past this ugly scar, only to discover we have squandered much Church treasure and moral credibility due to the lack of true leadership in Christ’s Church. Now that it is obvious that this filth and rot reach the top of the leadership posts within the Church, we see we are nowhere near solving the problem.

The latest revelations themselves come as no surprise to readers of The Wanderer, whose late news editor, Paul Likoudis, relentlessly covered and exposed many of the sex abuse scandals in the 1980s and 1990s. At the time, The Wanderer suffered much ridicule and derision for reporting on much of what was not then believed and not yet widely exposed — only to be vindicated in the course of time.

Ultimately, God will have His justice. The Church must move on from this scandal if the hierarchy is to restore its moral authority within the Church — but the bishops cannot be trusted to police themselves, given their failed track record to date.
The foxes were in charge of the henhouse in 2002 when The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (The Dallas Charter) was established by the USCCB for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.
The Dallas Charter, which was intended to prevent these kinds of abuses from happening in the future was formulated in part by some of the very people who were participating in the abuses, namely Cardinal McCarrick. As a result of the new charter, programs such as Virtus were created, a morally questionable and flawed program basically “protecting” victims in some cases against their own parents, instead of protecting potential victims from the real predators — in this case, a bishop.
This program was set up by the bishops through their insurance company, essentially protecting the bishops and their insurance companies from lawsuits. (The Wanderer has had extensive coverage of both these issues.)

Is it any surprise that this same hierarchy which has protected its fellow clerics brought us the watered-down catechetics from the 1970s, the lack of consistent follow-through with authentic Church teaching (Humanae Vitae comes to mind), decades of silence from the pulpit on Church teaching concerning sexuality and abortion, the renegade seminaries, the diluted liturgies, and the relaxed standards of discipline within the hierarchy of the Church.
When you think about the crisis facing the Church today — it is no wonder these things continue to haunt the Church when we look at the corruption within the hierarchy. This latest scandal calls for a plan of action — to be implemented quickly.

The bottom line is that the responsibility for this whole scandal will have to rest at the Chair of Peter. To this date the Pope has not publicly clarified basic Catholic teaching in regard to the Eucharist for the divorced and remarried and even the issue of Protestant reception of Holy Communion, leaving both clergy and the laity in the lurch. This latest scandal will only intensify lay outrage if it is not addressed forcefully and truthfully by this Pontiff.
As of this writing, the Pope has removed McCarrick from his duties and ordered that he be confined to an as yet undisclosed location until he faces canonical trial. These actions would be expected from anybody in authority — but they will not be enough. What comes next will be quite telling. Those who are accommodating the evil and allowing scandal among the leadership of the Church need to be exposed and rooted out.
If the Pope does not act on this, the laity must call upon the known true leaders of the faith to establish a commission or panel of prelates, along with members of the lay faithful, to push for cleaning house in the hierarchy. It will be imperative for the laity to play a significant role in any solution to this crisis of moral credibility and failure of leadership within the Catholic hierarchy.

The McCarrick scandal will be an interesting case study under this Pontificate. The controversial Amoris Laetitia has been widely criticized for its controversial explanations on how the Church must accompany sinners. This high-profile event will provide the Church with a concrete example of how the Church puts into practice Pope Francis’ much ballyhooed Church of accompaniment.
Donald Cardinal Wuerl, in a letter dated March 3 of this year to his priests regarding the implementation of Amoris Laetitia in his Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., stated:
“The apostolic exhortation calls for a compassionate pastoral approach to many people — married, single, and divorced — who are struggling to face issues in life, the teaching of the Church, and their own desire to reconcile all of this. The exhortation is a call to compassionate accompaniment in helping all to experience Christ’s love and mercy. . . .”
One would assume this includes the good Cardinal McCarrick — perhaps now we will get some of the clarity the laity have been requesting from the Vatican on this subject as we watch how our Church leaders handle his case. Will we see exactly what the Pope had in mind with his exhortation Amoris Laetitia — will it apply to Cardinal McCarrick? We shall see.

It is possible the McCarrick scandal could be seen as a watershed event in today’s Church. Maybe those in the clergy will sense that the laity have no time for the prelates in the Church who are trying to sell us on some new paradigm while their woeful inability to show any leadership within their own house is exposed. The Church of accompaniment, the Church of relentless mercy void of repentance, the politically convenient support of open borders and concern for climate change seem to have a hollow ring to them now that the credibility of the Catholic hierarchy has taken on a full frontal attack. As the McCarrick scandal is exposed to the world, many of the prelates who knew for years but looked the other way will have a difficult time preaching their version of the Gospel to a suspicious laity.
This will have to be reconciled if the Church is to be healed and move forward.

It seems fitting that 50 years to the date the Church celebrates the anniversary of Humanae Vitae, a document which was ridiculed and passed over and ignored by much of the Church for the last 50 years, can now be taken seriously and reexamined as to how its dismissal played an important role in much of what troubles the Church today. Perhaps the true blessings of Humanae Vitae can now be highlighted and promoted in the fashion that was intended.

Catholics of faith might look at this as a turning point. It is a point when the laity have become so outraged that finally the shepherds have no choice but to listen to them if they wish to reclaim their credibility as true shepherds. These are the lay faithful who have been crying out for decades to be affirmed and taught the rich faith that they are entitled to as members of the Body of Christ.
This is a turning point for the leadership of the Catholic Church — a point where bishops, cardinals, and priests will be given a choice whether to follow the precepts of the Catholic faith and return to their mission of saving souls again, or continue to divide and erode the Church that Christ founded some 2,000 years ago. This means preaching the full Gospel again, the Gospel as Christ preached it, and not just using the Commandments to support the political arguments of the day.

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