By REY FLORES
If there is one thing that drives me absolutely crazy, it’s when I have atheists, Protestants, or, worse yet, lapsed Catholics who always like to throw “your child-molesting priests” right at my face when discussing religion, politics, or just about anything that offers the world yet another opportunity to attack the Catholic Church.
To those people I say, the Catholic Church is not defined by these troubled men. As Catholics we defend the Church, but never do we defend such actions by a few very lost souls who have committed unspeakable and atrocious crimes which should be acknowledged and punished to the full extent of the law.
The secular world loves to take any and every opportunity to make it seem like Catholic priests invented child molestation. While I certainly do not enjoy hearing or reading of any story of a child having been sexually abused by anyone, little attention is paid when it is done by a non-Christian liberal, especially if it is a crime committed by homosexual couples who have abused their adopted children.
Just this past week, the Archdiocese of Chicago once more had to go in front of the mainstream news propagandists’ cameras all red-faced, releasing yet another thousand-page stack of documents to the attorneys of the alleged sex-abuse victims.
Bishop Francis Kane started off with the obligatory apology, “I want to offer apologies to all victims affected by these sins and crimes.”
As part of another legal settlement, these documents contain personnel files, reports, and subsequent complaints that include the accused and those who have allegedly obfuscated any evidence or testimony in the related legal proceedings. All of the abuse cases in this pile of documents are said to have occurred prior to 1988, but oh how these ghosts continue to haunt us all.
I hate to say it, but there really is no way to defend any of these guilty priests or their enablers anymore. Aside from the misinterpretations and liturgical abuses of the postconciliar era, the priest sex-abuse scandal has been responsible for so much of the brutal criticism and fracturing of the modern-day Catholic Church.
In a news release from this past Sunday, January 12, Francis Cardinal George, OMI, closed the document with another statement lamenting the ongoing damage that all of these horrific cases have caused us all. “Once again,” he affirmed, “I apologize to all those who have been harmed by these crimes and this scandal, the victims themselves, most certainly, but also rank and file Catholics who have been shamed by the actions of some priests and bishops.”
We have been shamed. We have been put in a very difficult position as lay Catholics where we face scorn and ridicule enough simply for being faithful Catholics, but on top of that we almost always have to defend our Church and our faith by a world so ready to destroy us.
In a recent news story from the Chicago ABC affiliate, Kate Bochte of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) had her predictable response: “It’s just a dishonest letter. It’s a disingenuous letter.” And: “You’ll get the truth from the victims and survivors and the witnesses — not from clergy members who are only out to protect themselves from accountability.”
On her web site, FireThePope.com, the former Catholic Bochte runs an ongoing blog that she introduces as “How a ‘good Catholic girl’ finally stumbled upon the truth.” Bochte is seriously angry at the Church and makes no secret about it.
While the Church has always had her detractors and enemies with the likes of people like Bochte and members of SNAP in this instance, the Church is still standing . . . somewhat worn and tested, but standing nevertheless.
We must make every effort to pray for an end to these abuses and for an end to the subsequent abuses heaped upon our Church and her faithful by the world and the news media that hate us as well.
The way I always try to discredit or shut people down when they talk about our “child-molesting priests” is to ask: Just because of a few abusive cops, would you automatically write off the entire existence of legitimate law enforcement?
Just because of a certain number of medical malpractice cases, would you write off the entire medical community as incompetent or neglectful?
Pray for everyone involved in these cases, including ourselves, the unintended and indirect victims of abusive clergy.
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(Rey Flores is available for talks and presentations at your next church or fundraising event. Contact Rey Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.)