“A Veneration Too Far” is a throw away line in a BBC mystery, perfect words for a long-standing attitude of members toward the Catholic Church. From childhood Catholics learned that we worship God and venerate the Saints. Somehow that veneration morphed into a veneration of priest, bishops, cardinals and the Pope.
A few weeks ago I wrote several blogs about the crisis scandal in the Catholic Church. The writing precipitated reading and research of the institutionalized cover-up of venerated Men of God sexually abusing children. At this moment, simply thinking about shattered innocence is devastating. Men of God sexually abusing children and that abuse protected by other Men of God– right up the chain of command– is vile.
When the United States scandal came to light dedicated and well-meaning Catholics defended the church. As bizarre as it sounds,all the defenses were bogus. Denial was rampant. Victims took the blame in so many forms. Defenders of the church impugned the motives of the victims trivializing the harm. Number spins attempted to disparage the depth of the problem. Offers to counsel victims played the We Care card. Some church officials went so far as to condemn the news media saying that the evidence was simply an attack by detractors.
Programs to protect children from potential abuse by lay persons became a requirement for working in Catholic situations. As a volunteer in a Catholic elementary school, I participated in one of the programs, Virtus. Through it all, the hierarchy of the church continues to diminish and deny even to the point of saying that the problem was a United States problem.
When the abuse in other countries became as public as the United States scandal there was no place to hide. Our church was dirty is the most heinous meaning of the word.
We wait in our cherished parishes or we wait alone, refusing to attend Mass unless and until justice delivered. We want acknowledgement, condemnation, swift removal of the sinners who desecrated practice and doctrine while pretending to follow the professed teachings of Jesus. We want civil prosecution of any man involved in acts of abuse and any man involved in the cover-up of the acts of abuse. We want every man involved publically drummed out of the church, no exceptions.
Pope Benedict XVI stated: “The greatest persecution of the church does not come from the enemies outside, but is born from sin inside the church. The church has a profound need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn on the one hand forgiveness but also the necessity of justice. And forgiveness does not substitute justice.”
Perhaps Benedict’s word’s usher the cleansing. May it be swift and certain.