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The Cleansing Of The Church: Coming Soon?

September 5, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By GEORGE A. KENDALL

I have a strong premonition that a major historical crisis for the Church is now very near, one perhaps very comparable to the Protestant revolt and the corruption in the Renaissance Church that preceded it. Or perhaps even worse. Let me outline my thinking on this.
In the 1990s, Catholics were horrified to learn that we were suffering an epidemic of unworthy priests who sexually abused children and young adults (sometimes very young adults — adolescents, usually males). I must add that some of us had known about this for some time — for instance, the staff, the contributors, and the readers of The Wanderer, but we were dismissed as paranoid.
At that time, the hierarchy went through the motions of reform, but focused almost exclusively on the priests who committed these crimes, not on the bishops who in some cases joined in and in many more cases used the power of their office to cover up the crimes — for instance, by making substantial payments to the victims in return for their silence — using money donated by unwitting Catholics for other purposes.
In addition, they did not, in the great majority of cases, report the crimes to the civil authorities, thus engaging in obstruction of justice, for which they may well be prosecuted.
What has happened recently is that we have become aware of this, and of the enormous extent of the corruption involved. Learning that high-ranking members of the hierarchy, like the now ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, were involved both in sexual abuse and in covering it up, came as a great shock to many. We are also coming to be aware of the almost certain existence of a network of homosexual priests centered in the Vatican but with a worldwide presence, undermining the Church and her teachings, especially on chastity, and covering up one another’s crimes.
A grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania has uncovered a number of cases where there was criminal collusion by people in positions of authority within the Church to cover up crimes by priests and hide them from the authorities. The grand jury’s report suggests that these are most likely only the tip of the iceberg.
So what to do now? Clearly, some actions need to be taken that should have been taken twenty years ago, when the public first became aware of these abominations. First of all, as both Robert Royal and Fr. Gerald Murray said recently on EWTN, the whole thing needs to be investigated thoroughly and rigorously by people who are not clergy and do not work for the Church.
We know now that the bishops will not honestly investigate themselves or their priests. A generation ago, the bishops set up a national review board headed by ex-Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, but did not give it the authority it needed and gave it at best their tepid cooperation. They ended up firing Gov. Keating after he referred to the hierarchy as a corrupt organization — that is, as one not capable of reforming itself — and things went downhill from there.
Today we have to do things differently. We cannot continue to suppress the truth. What we have here is a grave infection in the Body of Christ, one that has grievously wounded it. The abscess needs to be lanced and drained, no matter how disgusting or odiferous the process may be. When it comes to the suppression of truth, we all need to remember the words of John: “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20).
When it comes to the relationship between the hierarchy and the Catholic people, the Church depends on trust, which is closely related to truth. If we find out people are lying to us, we stop trusting them. Lies beget loss of faith. If it gets to the point where people just stop believing anything their priests and bishops tell them, what becomes of the Church? In my grandparents’ generation, a priest was assumed, most of the time, to be a holy man. In my youth, that assumption was beginning to wear thin, but was still semi-intact? No one assumes that today.
The whole truth has to come out no matter what the consequences, because if we continue to suppress the truth, the Church will effectively collapse. And we can’t take refuge in the guarantee that the Church will last until the end of time because, for all we know, that could mean a Church with only a few members. “When the Son of Man comes, will there be faith left on the Earth?” Maybe very little.
So the whole truth has to come out, no matter what the consequences. And these could be horrific. When the full extent and depth of the corruption, the evil, involved becomes generally known, many may lose their faith. The Church could become a lot smaller (but those who love her will stay). The revelations could also become a pretext for governments to persecute the Church, something they are just itching to do.
Both of these could, of course, be an opportunity in the long run. We know from history that martyrdom strengthens the Church. When the Church is under pressure, those who are Catholic in name only will figure prominently among those who walk away. The Church has become much too obsessed with keeping membership high, and its leaders all too willing to compromise to keep it high.
A smaller Church, consisting mostly of those with a strong and intense enough faith to be able to remain faithful in such a situation, would have the courage to teach and uphold Christian truth without the endless watering down that has characterized so much of Catholic life since the 1960s.
In line with that, we need a new council, one whose work would parallel that of the Council of Trent. That council made a belated but still very necessary response to the corruption of the Renaissance Church. We need to cleanse our seminaries, our Catholic schools, and our parishes, so they can once again be the light of the world, and the salt of the earth. The abomination of desolation has stood long enough in the holy place of God and needs to be invited to leave.
The one hope here is maybe the revelations of profound corruption will force us to cleanse the Church after many years of procrastination.
The whole teaching of the Church on sexual morality will need to be restored, especially as it relates to homosexual perversion. The horror people used to feel in response to this perversion needs to be restored, as well as a sense of the disgusting nature of the behavior (what I like to call the “yuck factor”), and we need to do everything in our power to keep deviants out of the seminaries and the priesthood, not encouraging them, as we have been doing since the 1960s.
We also need to restore belief in the existence of the Devil. We could start by restoring the Prayer to St. Michael to the place Pope Leo XIII gave it at the end of the Mass (how interesting that we dropped this practice at just about the time Satan started to enjoy major successes in his efforts to take over the Church).
In that regard, I have another small suggestion: The concluding words of the Lord’s Prayer, “deliver us from evil,” really ought to be translated as “deliver us from the evil one.” The Jews of Jesus’ time and the early Christians had little interest in abstractions like “evil,” but saw evil as personal. They didn’t reduce Satan to an abstraction. And I am fairly certain that is the correct translation from the Greek.
Raymond Cardinal Burke, in recent remarks on EWTN, made it clear that he has no doubt at all that Satan is a major presence in the work of turning our beautiful Church into a moral sewer. By the power of God, let him be cast back into Hell.
Finally, we have to be very aware that the road we travel in trying to rebuild the Church will be the Way of the Cross. We are not better than our master. There will be many martyrs, both red and white.
A final note: As I get ready to send these remarks in to the editor, Archbishop Carlo Viganò, former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, has just published an amazing open letter stating that Pope Francis has known about ex-Cardinal McCarrick’s crimes at least since 2013, when Viganò informed him of them. He ends by urging Pope Francis to resign. A few hundred words back, I mentioned my premonition that a terrible crisis was on the way. And here it is.
(© 2018 George A. Kendall)

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