Monday, September 8, 2014

We Must Do What our Bishops Will Not

One of the ideas that Protestants have about Catholics is that we expect the priests to take care of our holiness for us.  They offer the sacrifice of the Mass, they read and study Scripture, they study doctrine and theology - all so that we don't have to.

And, though this is a stereotype, it's largely true.

But the thing is that not only is this wrong-headed of Catholics, it's often simply wrong.  What I mean is that priests - and especially bishops - sometimes don't come anywhere close to doing what we're depending on them to do.

As yet another exhibit in this case, David Clohessy of SNAP issued a statement today that was more an honest lament than it was a press release.

He talks about the passing of child molester Fr. Robert K. Larson, whose victims included 17 children, 5 of whom eventually committed suicide.  He talks about how Larson's passing was kept secret until after the burial.  He talks about how none of the victims or their families, who must be experiencing a difficult mixture of emotion now that Larson has died - none of them were contacted by any bishop.  Clohessy states (my emphasis) ...

We are sure [Larson's] bishop will issue a statement expressing “sadness.” But that's a public relations move, not a pastoral one. A truly compassionate shepherd would aggressively reach out to those in pain using every means possible, not just a terse, conveniently timed press release.

But that's the story: generally speaking, bishops care more about PR than about hearts and souls.  They care more about systems and spreadsheets than about men and women in need.  This is not true for every bishop, but it's true for most, and it's the great lesson the Abuse Scandal has taught us.

Now, my point here is not bishop bashing (really, it's not).

My point is this.

While Catholics are looking to bishops to be representatives of Christ, that's also what non-Catholics are looking at every one of us to be.  Become a Catholic, admit that you're Catholic, and you're on as much of a mission as any priest, deacon or bishop.

Every person we meet every single day of our lives is longing for something.  He's longing to see the Face of Christ.

And it's our job to show it to him.  Especially if our bishops won't.

And we can only show others His face if it we let it shine through ours.


Anonymous said...

In memory of James Chevedden, the victim of a suspicious death (the Jesuit Order rushed to label it a suicide) a few years after an alleged sexual assault by a Jesuit. The suspicious death was during the tenure of Fr. Thomas Smolich, when Fr. Smolich was the Jesuit California Provincial.

Anita Moore said...

I personally think that we are living in a time when the majority of Catholics -- and that goes for priests and bishops, too, at all levels of the hierarchy -- do not have the Catholic faith. It may well be an overwhelming majority; only God knows for certain. So many simply do not subscribe to the content of the Catholic faith, nor see any reason why they should. It is all a load of bunk to them, medieval superstition that the cool kids have outgrown. So many Catholics -- bishops, priests, religious, laity -- act as though Vatican II liberated them from the requirement to accept all that the Church teaches. The end result is that charity has run cold.

So many in the Church claim to love humanity but have no use for any particular human beings. It's so much easier to "love" an abstraction than to become enmeshed in the messy life of a flesh-and-blood human being -- a point you have been making for some time here.

Drusilla Barron said...

"So many simply do not subscribe to the content of the Catholic faith, nor see any reason why they should."

This is all the more reason that those who are faithful out to live our faith and do what so many Catholics fail to do: love as Christ has loved us. And, in doing so, we may just open spur some of our CINO brethern to genuine faith. said...

The hypocrisy from SNAP's David Clohessy is astounding.

It is a known fact that David Clohessy has never divulged the whereabouts of his brother Kevin - a Catholic priest - who left active ministry after being accused of sexually molesting innocent boys back in the 1990s.

Yet now he wants to lecture the Church on how to announce the deaths of accused Catholic priests.

The Patterson story is heart-wrenching and angering, indeed.

But I cannot help but notice that folks like Kevin and SNAP keep on creating these new, unheard-of-before "standards" for how the Church is supposed to behave.

Since when are organizations under a moral obligation to notify victims upon the death of a perpetrator?
*When* has this *ever* happened??

It seems Kevin and the bigots at SNAP want to bludgeon the Church for failing to uphold a standard that has never even existed before.