. . . at the request of the Holy Father—the papal legate Cardinal Mark Ouellet spent last night in St Patrick’s Purgatory, fasting and keeping barefoot vigil in prayer for reconciliation and healing of the grievous wounds dealt by Ireland’s clergy abuse scandals. [...]
Of course, this gesture will be read by many (if not most) as one more cynical photo opp, one more attempt at damage control by a Church unimaginably bereft of credibility. Can anybody hear the Gospel from the Church anymore, through the fog of scandal? It’s enough to make me share Patrick’s despair.
But perhaps that’s the point—for me, and for all Catholics. In a profound way, we all participate in the abuse scandals as both victim and perpetrator, because the Body is one. In the anti-Catholic vitriol that fills the newspaper comment boxes, Christ is giving us a vision of hell. In our inability to make ourselves heard or believed as witnesses to Good News, we are forced into solidarity with the little ones whose witness to our sinfulness we so long ignored and stifled. As Cardinal Ouellet himself has said:
As members of the Church, we must have the courage to ask humbly for God’s pardon, as well as for the forgiveness of His “little ones” who have been wounded; we must remain close to them on their road of suffering, seeking in every possible way to heal and bind up their wounds following the example of the Good Samaritan. The first step on this road is to listen to them carefully and to believe their painful stories.
For the Church, then, this very well may be more than just one night of fasting and prayer, but a long season in St Patrick’s Purgatory.
Indeed. Read it all.
UPDATE: Via Rocco, while doing St. Patrick’s Penance, there was a meeting of abuse survivors
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