This message is for most of us who aren’t directly involved in any of the ongoing scandals that continue to percolate to the surface these days, like in Newark, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the latest scandalous news coming out of Cleveland, but who understand that we need to do something.
It’s time to break out the big guns of prayer and fasting, is all I can figure. How to do that? Check this out.
Even after a decade of so-called reform, many bishops continue to enable a clerical culture in which children are put at risk. Stories of abusive priests, and what seems to be the deliberate cultivation of an environment conducive to abuse, continue to shock and appall Catholics of all walks of life. Those outside the Church may be drawing the impression that this is what the Church is and that Catholics don’t care.
But Catholics do care. And this is not what the Church is – or at least what God wants it to be. This is not how those who call themselves Christians should behave – whether they be lay, deacons, priests or bishops. It is scandalous and deeply offensive; it is a terrible witness, and it is crippling any true attempt to evangelize the culture at large.
And while both lay and clergy are not in a position to change the lack of faith and malfeasance in the Church that has led to this, there are at least three things we can do.
- Praying and Fasting: making Reparations for the sins of the abusers and their enablers.
- Living Lives of Personal Holiness: If our leaders won’t lead as true Christians, pray that God give us the grace to live as such, primarily by “loving one another” (John 13:34-35), which includes reaching out to victims, to abusers, and to those who are in a position to protect potential victims and abusers. Someone has to set a Christian example. If priests and bishops won’t do it, the laity will.
- Always Calling for the Truth to be Revealed – Despite Resistance and Persecution. Realize that, as Jesus told us, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32), and that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Therefore, the more the truth comes out about abusers and their enablers, the more readily will healing come to their victims, and the more possible it will be for this rot and corruption be purged from the Body of Christ.
Not long before this project began, Pope Francis called for a day of prayer and fasting to avert a possible war between the U.S. and Syria. Before that day, war seemed inevitable. After that day, war was averted.
Strengthened by this confidence, as well as by the promises in Scripture concerning the efficacy of prayer (Mark 11:24 and elsewhere), and moved by an ardent love for Christ and for those among us who are most innocent and most helpless, beginning on Saturday, October 12, 2013 (the Vigil of the Worldwide Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary), we call for all believers to devote the Second Saturday of each month to Prayer, Fasting and Reparations for victims of Sexual Abuse, and for true reform in the Church.
Read the rest, and sign up for reminders at Prayers for Victims.
With the Holy Spirit’s blessing, perhaps Pope Francis will call for a Church-wide penance like the Second Saturday Reparations suggested above.
But waiting on a papal edict will not do. Checking the calendar, I see it is the Second Saturday of October, and though it may be a little late to fast, it’s never too late to pray. It’s like the Holy Spirit tells us through St. Paul,
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker: Penance is a Therapy Too.