Palm Sunday and our Sins

Deacon Greg:

They are a reminder – and an indictment. While we were standing here, crying out “Crucify him!,” we were clutching the branches that we used to sing out “Hosanna.” The palms reveal our very human duplicity. How easily we turn. How quickly we pivot from faithful, to faithless … from belief to doubt … from being disciples, to being betrayers.

We start out acting like angels, singing “Hosanna.” And we end up just being the mob.

It can sometimes be that way throughout the church. The headlines this week have told the story. Men called to holiness can be guilty of appalling sins. Sins of abuse. Sins of neglect. Sins of dishonesty. Sins of betrayal.

And yet, to be a part of the body of Christ is to be with him on the cross. The Catholic writer Ronald Rolheiser has put it powerfully. “To be a member of the church,” he wrote, “is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul….because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves.”
And all we can do sometimes is echo the words of the one thief, words we heard just a few moments ago: “Jesus, remember me.” That moment is the only one in any of the gospels where someone calls Jesus by his given name. Maybe it is because it is at this moment – the hour of his death — that he is most like us. He hangs there, stripped, beaten, betrayed. He hangs among thieves. This is what we have done to our God. And this is what we continue to do, even today.

You’ll want to read it all.

I am in the middle of a (baking) mess, but will posting something on this later. As a friend of mine noted: “certainly these horrendous issues should be covered, but why is the NY Times so simultaneously disinterested in the sex abuse of students in NYC’s public schools?” As someone who experienced sex abuse both at home and public school, I know this is a valid question. By all means, let us drain this endless pustule from our church, let us repent, let us help the victims find both justice and healing. But let’s not ignore the fact that there are countless victims in other institutions whose stories are not told. Outrage should not be selective. It may be more fun (and more gratifying) for some to talk about sex abuse in the church, but it ignores the plights of many others who must be wondering why their pain and fear is so much less interesting.*

Well, we know the answer. And of course, this being the lead up to Holy Week, it’s all that much more satisfying for some, painful for others, and, you know, “on schedule.”

John Allen: Keeping the Record Straight Re Benedict and the Crisis more here
deSouza: National Post
Archbishop Dolan

*edited for clarity.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Manny L.

    I loved Deacon Greg’s message. Our bifurcated selves is part of our human mystery. There are mysteries associated to God, and there is this mystery of the non nrational, the uncohesiveness of our human natures. Compassion and hate, love and disgust, human fellowship and the repulsion of the other. I think Dostoevsly captures it best. I highly recommend The Brothers Karamozov. In fact I intend to re-read it in a month or so.

    As to the recent troubles with the Pope, I would like to see some opinions on it. Some of it strikes me as unfair, that liberal media again looking to besmirch the Church, but still the allegations are disturbing.

  • Bender

    why is the NY Times so simultaneously disinterested in the sex abuse of students in NYC’s public schools?

    A thing cannot help but be what it is, and we have long known what the NYT is.

    More disturbing are those in Catholic circles who quote approvingly from the NYT and are now salivating and taking joyful delight at the prospect of being able to slander the Church and especially the Pope (for example, recently cheering Sinead O’Connor’s contempt for the Church with comments like “Yes, she hated the pope before it was cool.”).

  • Bender

    And the hate for Pope Benedict spewed here is even worse.

  • Fr. Steve

    Let’s continue to pray for the Holy Father. This is a spiritual battle that all of us need to participate in by being who God calls us to be.

  • aardvark

    The horrible and scandalous sexual abuse is just that — It speaks for itself. And guess what, all religions – and lack thereof – are guilty of it. Nothing can justify it nor is there need to condemn it. It condemns itself. Absolute intolerance ALL such behavior is the ONLY reaction. Any arguments?

    Now, what how about the moral corruption wrought by the liberal, hedonistic teaching the children that “if it feels good, do it”? Followed by the inevitable sexually transmitted diseases, emotional scars, abortions…

    Did I mention I am not Catholic? This is simply NOT a religious matter.

  • Annie

    I understand and share your outrage over these sins…but I fail to see how victims are served by falsely accusing the one person who has tried more than any other to change the conditions that enabled these failures in our church!

    Pray for the victims
    Pray for the Pope
    Pray fro the Church

  • Manny L.

    “That the Church has very publicly pointed out and condemned the sexual sins of others, and even blamed the sexual sins of others for all kinds of ills in this world, was carrying out and covering up and perpetuating the most heinous crimes against children imaginable, and for decades, makes this a more newsworthy story.”

    That is completely unfair. The “Church” did not carry out these sins. Individual priests commited these crimes, and there is no evidence to suggest that the statistics of priest child molesters are any different than the population at large. The Church is also not a policing institution. Yes it failed to report them, but you know the make up of a priest is to inherently forgive. Over the years, this was not looked at as a psychological compulsion as it is now, but as a personal failing. If one confesses and asks for forgiveness, a fellow priest will instinctively do so. The Church needs, and I hope has, changed its attitude on this. But what happened is understandable.

  • Jennifer

    I hope it’s merely a sugary, floury, doughy mess you’re in, Anchoress.

    This was a fantastic homily by Deacon Greg. The pain of the abuse scandal is so deep, and it does hurt so to see our Holy Father maligned with such glee by the MSM. The truth is buried so the sensational un-truths can take center-stage.

    We must pray for the Holy Father intensely this week.

  • Bender

    If one confesses and asks for forgiveness, a fellow priest will instinctively do so. The Church needs, and I hope has, changed its attitude on this.

    May that NEVER be so. Let us remember, as you judge, so to shall you be judged — the standard that you apply to others is rightly applied to you. If any one of us were to go and confess our sins, no matter how awful, we would hope that the confessor-priest would, in persona Christi, instinctively give us absolution.

    There is NO sin so great that neither God nor the Church will not forgive except for the sin of not asking for or accepting forgiveness (which by its very nature cannot be forgiven).

    The proper attitude of the Church — the very reason for her existence — is to reconcile man to God by Christ through the forgiveness of sins.

    That does not mean that further remedial measures are not appropriate, most especially when the wrongdoing is by a priest or religious. Sometimes they might be in order to protect others in the future. But the attitude of the Church is and always must be one of love for the sinner, forgiveness, not eternal condemnation. Jesus died on the Cross for everyone, including priests who have committed sexual abuse.

    And OUR attitude should be the same. Pray for the sinner. Pray for his conversion and a desire for sincere repentence. Pray that God grant him grace to come back home after so much sinful living. And pray that WE as the “good brother” who faithfully remained at home working in the fields, will rejoice when our sinful brother returns home, and embrace him with love, rather than harboring resentment and demanding eternal condemnation.

  • Mere Catholic

    I too feel shame over the increasing number of abuse relevations from Europe as well as sorrow for the current Holy Father who is unjustly being asked to shoulder all responsibilty. But please, as much as we should pray for the Holy Father, this scandal is above all about the victims. The Holy Father is being attacked, often unjustly, when he has done much to reform the response to a credible allegation of abuse. Yet it is also true that Bishops who systematically covered up abuse have never been held accountable. We should pray that at the least these Bishops should seek true repentance and publicly offer penance (which a la Cardinal Law should not include a cushy job in Rome) for what they allowed to take place. Mere written platitudes of are not sufficient any more. We have in Christ a Lord of Mercy, but He is also a Lord of Justice who was very clear about the consequences for those who would cause harm to the little ones of His flock. It is justice that demands that Bishops who enabled evil be brought to task.