"If one member suffers,
all suffer together with it."

On August 20th, His Holiness Pope Francis issued an impassioned letter to the People of God throughout the Catholic world, and chose to begin with this quotation from 1st Corinthians.  It is a strikingly appropriate Scripture verse with which to begin his letter, since the August report by a Pennsylvania Grand Jury on the sexual abuse of more than a thousand children and young people by hundreds of Catholic clergy has triggered terrible hurt, anger, disbelief, bewilderment, and sadness among believers here at home, across the nation, and indeed around the world.  In the brief time following the Pennsylvania report, it has become increasingly evident that the sexual abuse of minors has often been coupled with a shameful abuse of power by some of those with greatest authority in the Church, to minimize or cover up such crimes.

As a parish family, we weep with all who have suffered abuse of any kind by a priest, religious, bishop, etc.  Their hurt--in many cases inflicted decades ago--is a violation that can make living a healthy, productive life virtually impossible, even with the passage of time.  We pray for them and their loved ones, first and foremost.  But we also weep for our beleaguered Church, which in many ways has worked earnestly for the past 15 years to safeguard our children, teens, and vulnerable adults from any kind of predation, and to make the requirements for the psychological and emotional wellbeing of those who would enter ordained ministry that much more comprehensive and stringent.  It feels as if so much hard work has been undone by these most recent revelations. 

But if I can be so presumptuous as to quote my own letter to the parishioners of St. Lawrence on August 17th, "I choose to believe with St. Lawrence and all the holy men and women of every age that the Church is the beloved family of God, cherished and delighted in despite the frailty of its members.  We are as human a community as any other, except for the marvelous fact that the Spirit of God is alive in the midst of his people, as our constant Companion, Advocate, and Guide.  God will never abandon us—no matter how often or how painfully we may stumble.  That, of course, is the Good News at the heart of all Jesus proclaimed:  that in spite of our sinfulness, weakness, and imperfection, God chooses this people as his Bride; opens his arms to forgive our sins; and walks alongside us as we make our pilgrim way to our true home."

Even in the midst of the scorn, outrage, and ridicule (much of it understandable and even deserved) that come with ongoing revelations of the abuse of persons and of power, let us continue to live in hope, clinging to the hand of our Savior and to one another, trusting that the Lord has not abandoned his people, but is no doubt leading us through a period of trial and purification to a more perfect union with Him.

Father Brian

For the full text of Father Brian's August 17th letter to the parishioners of St. Lawrence, Click Here.

For a very candid, unvarnished, and insightful "Question and Answer" by Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop, Robert Barron, Click Here.

For the latest statements by our Bishop, John O. Barres, in response to the current crisis; the full text of Pope Francis' letter to the People of God; and the policies and programs already in place in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, go to www.drvc.org 


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