In these times the Church is coming under a furious assault on its holiness as some highlight a number of the sinful events that have happened within it. First of course we must admit that there have been terrible abuses within the Church which sometimes have been handled badly. However, even when handled badly the intent was never to let the abuse continue. While some times the Church did try to deal with the problems within the Church rather than inviting outside help this is not an evil thing but unfortunately bad judgement which did have serious consequences. These consequences were borne heavily by the abused and every effort to help those affected should be made.
No one should be surprised at the intensity of the attacks on the Church and His Holiness Pope Benedict XV1 this is to be expected. Those who oppose the Church will always use every means possible to try and destroy it and today highlighting and exaggerating claims of abuse are the weapons they use. Of course the Church will be hurt by these attacks but remember it will never be overcome. It is also obvious by the timing of these attacks that some are trying to disturb this, the holiest time for Christians, and to distract people from the celebrations of Our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection.
If we look at what is happening with a clear mind and not one influenced by the popular attacks a different understanding emerges.
The Pope of course has been trying to stop further abuse and trying to help the victims with his apologies, his removal of some priests and Bishops and by stating a zero tolerance for these shameful acts. The response by some is to attack the Pope with misrepresentations of the facts.
An instance is the priest who sadly abused deaf children in the U.S. Some call for the Pope to be removed as they claim he knew of it. The facts are that the Vatican was informed decades (20 years) after the event at which time the priest involved was dying. The priest had begged forgiveness and so Cardinal Ratzinger decided that it would serve no purpose to pursue this as it may cause more pain to those involved if their abuse was made public. The priest died some months later. I think any compassionate person in this situation would have done the same.
Another attack on the Pope was that his brother George, a priest (and a rector of a famous church choir) had slapped a choir boy in 1960 and this was called abuse. In those days it was the norm to use corporal punishment in schools and throughout society and it was not seen as abuse. (Immediately after a law came out not to apply corporal punishment, George Ratzinger gladly consented and said, for him this new law was "a relief" Also, one of the former choir boys said they had respect and love for him, he wanted discipline but was like a grandfather for them, with a warm heart.) Should we now start actions against all schoolteachers or parents who physically punished children? To look back and impose today's values selectively on others is truly unjust.
In another attempt to hurt the Pope it is claimed he did not respond correctly to a priest behaving badly in Munich where he was Archbishop at the time.
The priest was from another German diocese and was removed from that diocese. Consent was asked from Munich archdiocese to send the priest there for psychological therapy. Archbishop Ratzinger agreed the priest could come and was to stay in a presbytery. The then vicar general, without consulting Archbishop Ratzinger or asking his permission, decided that the priest should do parish work during his stay. The Archbishop left the diocese shortly afterwards and was not informed of this.
None of these attacks have truly any real substance to them in regard to the Pope but this does not stop the distortion of the facts by some. It should also be remembered that in society until recently abuse was often kept hidden from the public gaze as it was believed this was the best course of action to take. Families, victims, organisations both governmental and private did not want it known that abuse occurred and so swept it under the carpet. Why then should we expect that this way of thinking would not enter the Church as the Church is full of people who come from society?
Today many cast the first stone without thinking of their own mistakes or of the mistakes of society in general which they and their families past and present bear some responsibility for as part of society. How sad it is that the wonderful work the Church does worldwide is ignored. The largest charity in the world is the Catholic Church which feeds the poor, treats the sick and helps the needy in many countries. So many religious devote their lives to doing good often sacrificing for the love of others. How easily the world ignores the priests and religious who are murdered, tortured or raped as they go out to help those in need. The vast majority of priests who are good and serve mankind are forgotten while the very few priests who offend are highlighted for their wrongs.
(A German professor for forensic psychiatry, Prof. Hans-Ludwig Kröber from Berlin, did a statistic on child abuse. From 1995 till now, there have been 210,000 cases of child abuse in Germany reported to the police. This makes some 14 000 cases per year. The number of clergy involved in these is 94 in this period of 15 years. The professor states that the probability that men living in celibacy do such crimes is 36 times smaller than that of "normal" men.)
The Church will survive this feeding frenzy as some try to eat away its holiness and as it has in the past will come out of this difficult time a stronger Church. Let us not lose heart but instead stand firm in our faith responding to the assaults on the Church not only with a forgiving love but with a love that proclaims the truth and defends the Church in its time of trial.
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