Going through my daily review of blog posts, op-ed pieces and news articles I found another interesting headline: CATHOLICISM IN PERIL. It was posted by Heather Horn of the Atlantic Wire, “a website associated with The Atlantic that aggregates opinion from across the media spectrum and summarizes significant positions in each debate (Wikipedia).”
What fascinates me is the fact that people honestly think that the Church is going to crumble; that this current sex abuse scandal is going to somehow cause the Church to change doctrines, dogmas and disciplines.
However haters, I can assure you that the Catholic Church (the True Church of Christ) is not going anywehere. She has a Divine Guarantee. Here is an official statement from our Founder: “…the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Mt 16:18).” Oh and when Jesus says hell (sometimes translated as death or Hades) He means the powers of darkness, Satan, evil, etc. These attacks can come from within the Church as well as without.
To help you ponder Our Blessed Lord’s gurarantee, let me offer you some topics to start with:
- Long-term persecution as mentioned in Mt 10:23, Jn 15:20 and 2 Tim 3:12 (Les Martyrs by Fr. Dom H. Leclercq details these incidents before the 19th century).
Anyway, let us continue to the examination of the article:
As Germany–the pope’s own homeland–continues to be rocked by allegations of priestly abuse, many are wondering how high the scandal will go–after all, Pope Benedict XVI himself, as archbishop of Munich, approved an abuser’s therapy treatment without reporting it to authorities, though he claims not to have known about the abuse. Meanwhile, the pope’s attempt to put out a similar fire in Ireland with a letter this past weekend is stirring mixed reactions.
All this has convinced some commentators that this controversy is different from the American abuse scandal. In fact, some have begun to ask whether the Vatican–and even Catholicism itself–will pass through unscathed [Unscathed no. Christ bore our wounds for all time. Even after his resurrection his wounds remained visible for those who, like St. Thomas, needed extra proof (Jn 20:27).]. If so, will it still resemble the Catholic Church of old?
- Of Course It Will In the National Review, George Weigel argues that those looking “to cripple the Catholic Church” have had that long-wielded “card of ‘cover-up'” taken away from them by the pope’s recent strongly-worded letter regarding the Irish abuse cases. He thinks it did the trick. But he’s not entirely free from worry: “Those who care for the Church, on the other hand, must now hope and pray that the follow-up from the Vatican is as vigorous and unsparing as the Pope‘s letter.”
- Will the Pope Lose Ireland? The editors of The Independent disagree somewhat with Weigel, noting that the pope didn’t apologize for the coverup. “But even at the level of apology the Pope has chosen, this pastoral letter may turn out to be the first of many he will have to write,” given the way abuse cases seem to be multiplying across different countries. “As the sex abuse scandal continues to unfold and tolerance is stretched to breaking, it is surely not fanciful to ask whether Ireland will still define itself as a Roman Catholic country within a generation.” [My thoughts on this are stated masterfully in 1 Jn 2:19 and followed up with Peter’s statement in Jn 6:69.]
- ‘The Current Vatican’s Death Throes’ The Atlantic’s own Andrew Sullivan has been all over this one. He, too, finds spread of the scandal to Ireland–“Yes: Ireland“–noteworthy. He points out, as well, that if the German case follows the usual pattern, “the number of victims will grow,” and despite the Church blaming the stories on “anti-Catholic media … at some point, the whole grisly truth will come out.” [Pray tell, what is that truth?] The difference, he thinks, is that this time the current Pope is directly and personally implicated through his actions while a German bishop. And, frankly, Sullivan–a Catholic himself–is just fine with that [Often times the use of the “Catholic” qualifier is used to precede the statement of a dissenter as is the Andrew Sullivan.]:
Please: raping children is not a hard call for a Christian. Today or at any time in history. Covering it up is evil. If defending the perpetrators, rather than saving the victims, is not immoral, what is
So when will this Pope resign? And what happens to the church hierarchy’s moral authority if he doesn’t? [The Church’s moral authority comes from God Himself (see Mt 16:18).]
- It All Depends on the Coverup National Catholic Reporter’s [The most faithful of Catholic news groups…] John Allen Jr. notes that “relatively few people know or care how far the Vatican, or the pope, have come over the past eight years”; while Benedict has revolutionized the Church’s response to priestly abuse, he has not similarly revolutionized the Church’s response to concealment of priestly abuse [Or do you mean that the pope has not taken the measures you agree with. I suggest reading Why Doesn’t the Pope Do Something about “Bad” Bishops? for a little insight. Oh and there’s what I posted on Monday.]. To many, that’s “a job half done,” and “that … is what makes the revelations in Germany [about Benedict’s own actions with regard to abusers] so potentially damaging.” To wit:
if other cases of abusers who were reassigned emerge, even fair-minded people with no axe to grind may be tempted to ask: Can Benedict XVI credibly ride herd on bishops for failing to manage the crisis, if his own record as a diocesan leader isn’t any better?
Much about the church’s capacity to craft an “exit strategy” from the crisis–and, perhaps, much about Benedict’s own legacy–may hinge on his ability to offer a convincing answer. [From what I know about B16, he’s not worried about his “legacy.”]
- The Fall of Catholicism in Europe? “The Church has survived many, many dreadful things,” admits Newser’s Michael Wolff. “But not like this.” [Really? The Church has been around for a couple of thousands years. Surely there were other scandals with potentially detrimental long-term implications such as those of Honorius I, John XXII and Benedict IX.] With Pope Benedict himself implicated, and his competence in crisis management in question [CEO is not in the pope’s job description.], Wolff thinks history may begin to erode Catholicism’s remaining support structure [see 1 Jn 2:19]. His point is that crisis in Europe is radically different from crisis in America:
[I am going to add the following quote from Mr. Wolff’s article: “What is under attack is the infallibility of the pope…” Mr. Wolff does not seem to understand that Papal Infallibility is not in question here. This dogma is a grace from God (the Holy Spirit) that ensures that His Kingdom and Church is the perpetual, authoritative, infallible source of truth. Papal Infallibility only deal with issues of faith and morals such as dogmatic proclamations and must be invoked. It does not mean that the popes cannot err or sin in daily activities and duties.]
The historical argument with Catholicism, an argument that has been going on for so many centuries, which the wily Church has defeated or circumvented or stonewalled or built mighty barricades against, is back on the table again.
This time, the Church could very well lose it. [Let me quote what Ercole Cardinal Consalvi said to Napoleon in response to the emperor’s threat to destroy the Church, “He will never succeed. We have not managed to do it ourselves! (see A Crisis of Saints)”]
The Old and New Testaments are filled with the stories of persecutions and scandals of the God’s faithful. The Church would be no exception due her Divine origin. Furthermore, the fact that the Church was intended to be a visible institution for those seeking the Truth of Christ would place it square in the sites of spiritual and earthly enemies. Bishop Sheen, in his book Life of Christ (p. 494), described the condemnations of Jesus before the religious and secular courts as being caused by hatred of Him for being too Divine and too human, respectively. The Church being the the Mystical Body of Christ suffers no less a fate. Yet she cannot be destroyed because God does not renege on His promises.
So you see, it really doesn’t matter that the Pope is a sinner and/or how grave his sins are because ultimately, Jesus is the Head of the Church and will not fail her even if a pope does.
Allow me to end this post as my parish priests end our Mass:
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.