Dear Troubled Catholics – a Letter From Ralph Martin About the Current Crisis

 

 

Dear Troubled Catholics,

I have never seen so many “ordinary Catholics”—who usually never follow or hear about Church news—as deeply troubled as I have seen them in response to the recent revelations about the retired archbishop of Washington, DC.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was asked by the pope to resign from his membership in the College of Cardinals and ordered to live in seclusion until a canonical trial can be held to verify the validity of charges of sexual abuse and harassment made against him. After the first brave person came forward (whose accusations were found credible by the Archdiocese of New York Review Board), more and more followed. The climate of fear among many of our clergy—the fear of being punished or marginalized if they report sexual immorality among their fellow clergy or leaders—is starting to break. Cardinal McCarrick is now known as Archbishop McCarrick.

What has been so disturbing to so many people is the fact that there had been numerous warnings to various church officials that he was a homosexual predator, harassing many seminarians, priests, and young boys, for many years, but nothing had ever been done about it, and he was continually promoted. Even after a delegation of priests and lay people went to Rome to warn the Vatican about the situation, he was promoted. Even after a leading Dominican priest wrote a letter to Cardinal O’Malley, nothing was done. Even after lawsuits accusing him of homosexual sexual harassment in two of his previous dioceses had been settled with financial awards, he was still promoted. And not only that, he became a key advisor to Pope Francis and offered advice on whom to appoint as bishops in the United States!


One young Catholic mother with two boys who was open to the priesthood for them said to me that she now has grave concerns about ever having one of her sons enter the seminary, given the corruption that has been revealed.

Another said she could no longer see anyone joining the Catholic Church, due to such bad leadership. She lamented about the difficulty this presents for evangelization.

Another said that seven people from her very small, rural parish had left the parish, because sexual sin is never spoken of and there is almost an exclusive emphasis on political issues. She now fears that even more will leave.

Another said that the only way this is ever going to change is if we simply stop giving to the bishops’ national collections and to our own dioceses and parishes’ collections, unless they are led by bishops who are willing to call a spade a spade and govern accordingly. To this day, there are quite a number of “gay friendly” parishes in even “good dioceses,” where those afflicted with homosexual temptation are not encouraged to live chaste lives or offered effective correction, but instead are confirmed in their sexual activity. It seems many bishops are afraid to tackle the local “homosexual lobbies” and choose to turn a blind eye.


This past weekend at Mass, the priest giving the sermon was more upset than I’ve ever seen him about the unfolding scandal. The Gospel was about how the weeds and the wheat grow up together and will only finally be separated at the judgment. It was unclear what the priest was actually saying, but we are certainly not called to “enable the weeds.” And shepherds in particular have the obligation to admonish the sinner and remove from ministry those who refuse to preach the truth and who encourage others in wrong doing. Yes, we will always have sin, but as Jesus said,

“whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Mt 18:6).

There have been a veritable deluge of articles that have appeared from highly respected lay Catholics and priests saying that “enough is enough,” and we need to stop the cover-ups and get to the bottom of who is implicated in promoting men like this and covering up for them. We do.

In 2002, when the American bishops approved their “charter” that attempted to respond to the many cases of priest pedophilia that had come to light by that time, they conspicuously exempted themselves from their “zero tolerance” policy. Many priests have told me that they felt “thrown under the bus” by the bishops, who conveniently didn’t adopt policies to deal with their own tolerance of immoral behavior, cover-ups that allowed the pedophilia to go on for many years, or in some cases, their own immoral behavior. Another disturbing thing about the 2002 Charter is that—despite pleas to not ignore the fact that this is primarily a homosexual scandal, since most of the victims were adolescent boys rather than true children—the bishops decided not to tackle “the elephant in the room.” Could it be because they knew some of their brother bishops/cardinals were implicated, and they didn’t want to face the mess of cleaning it up? Now this refusal to acknowledge the “homosexual lobby,” as Pope Benedict termed it, is coming home to roost.

But there’s not just a huge homosexual problem in the Church; unfortunately, heterosexual sin and financial malfeasance are common in many places as well. In some countries, a significant percentage of priests are living with concubines or fathering children by vulnerable women and giving scandal to the faithful, who often know about it. This is the case in Uganda, from which I have recently returned, and in many other countries as well. In these situations, the “protection” of the priests and the frequent disregard for their victims—the women and their children—cries out for justice.

And so, once again because of the pressure of lawsuits and the press, the bishops are talking about “developing new policies” that would apply to bishops. As a colleague at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, has said: “Isn’t it clear enough from the Gospel that covering up immoral behavior is itself wicked? Why do we need new policies when the teaching of Jesus and the apostles is so clear?” Can the words of the Old Testament prophets and Jesus Himself against false shepherds be any clearer or more devastating? (See Jeremiah 23:1-6; Matthew 23, etc.)

The Archbishop McCarrick case may prove to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” It may  make the bureaucratic, carefully worded, evasive statements that have come from our leaders finally address sin and repentance, instead of the mere policies and processes they typically focus on. Could it be—finally—that the revelation of the long-term sexual harassment of seminarians and priests that never stopped Archbishop McCarrick’s rise in the hierarchy will be so totally repugnant that real repentance may actually start to happen? I have never prayed more for the pope and our leaders than I have in the last several years, and we all must continue to do so. More about that later.

Unfortunately, the Archbishop McCarrick case is certainly only the “tip of the iceberg.” The cumulative effect of revelation after revelation of immorality in high places is devastating. First, a number of years ago, a cardinal from Austria was forced to resign over homosexual activity; then, more recently, a cardinal from Scotland resigned over sexual harassment of seminarians and priests; and then the archbishop of Guam underwent a canonical trial in Rome over the sexual abuse of minors; and now cardinals in Chile (one of whom is on the pope’s Council of Cardinals that oversees reform) are under heavy suspicion for covering up homosexual abuse in their country. In fact, the whole bishops’ conference of Chile, acknowledging complicity in not taking seriously reports of a bishop’s cover up of sexual abuse, recently gave their resignations to the pope, and he has so far accepted several of them. The pope himself at first stubbornly backed the appointment of this bishop and dismissed the victims’ pleas as “calumny” and “gossip.” And before we could absorb this news, there was news of an archbishop in Australia getting a prison sentence for covering up abuse on the part of a priest. And just today, as I am writing this, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered the release of a grand jury report implicating more than 300 “predator priests” in six of the eight Pennsylvania dioceses involved in the sexual abuse of minors over many years.

Unfortunately, the rot is wide and deep and years of covering up abuse (and the concomitant reluctance to really preach the Gospel and call people to faith and repentance) and its ultimate exposure have injured the faith of millions. How shocking and tragic was it to see tens of thousands of Irish people in the streets of Dublin wildly celebrating that they could now legally kill babies!!!! Just when the Irish bishops needed to speak most strongly on fundamental moral issues, their credibility was destroyed when it was finally exposed that they had covered up abuse for decades. Satan is indeed like that wild boar Scripture talks about that rampages though the vineyard of the Lord because the hedges of protection have been destroyed (Ps 80:12-13). The corruption, ineptitude, and cowardice runs wide and deep, and its effects on the eternal salvation of millions, and the destiny of nations, is devastating.

Most recently, Cardinal Maradiaga of Honduras has seen his auxiliary bishop resign over homosexual and financial impropriety, and forty seminarians in his diocese publish a letter asking him to please root out the homosexual network in his seminary. This cardinal is Pope Francis’ chief advisor, the head of his “Council of Nine” that works closely with the pope in bringing about reform in Rome, and is mentioned as a possible successor to Pope Francis.

But continual reports of ongoing financial and sexual scandals suggest reform doesn’t seem to be happening. Recently, a male prostitute in Italy published the names and photos of sixty priests who frequent his services—with scarcely any comment from the shepherds. And the homosexual orgy in the apartment of a Vatican cardinal, used by his secretary, was met with a “no comment” by the Vatican press office. And then we hear also of a monsignor in the papal nuncio’s office in Washington, D.C., who suddenly leaves the country and is put on trial in the Vatican for trafficking in child pornography and is given a five year prison sentence.

I didn’t plan to discuss this whole situation, but it came up this summer when the thirty priests in my class at the seminary wanted to discuss Pope Francis’ leadership and the McCarrick scandal. We all agreed that Pope Francis has said and done some wonderful things (I teach his Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel in one of my classes), but he also has said and done some things that are confusing and seem to have led to a growth of confusion and disunity in the Church. How can German and Polish bishops approach the question of whether divorced and remarried couples can receive Communion without getting an annulment in opposite ways, and the Church still retain an ability to speak to the contemporary culture with one voice? It can’t. And how long can Church officials speak about the “positive values” of “irregular relationships” until the average Catholic comes to believe that we no longer believe the words of Jesus that fornicators, adulterers, and those who actively practice homosexuality will not enter the kingdom of God unless they repent? How many still believe that there is really a hell and that, unless we repent from such serious sins before we die, we will go there? Have we ever heard from leading churchmen, even in Rome, in recent years, that adultery, fornication and homosexual relations are not only “irregular,” but gravely sinful? Has the creeping “universalism” (the belief that virtually everyone will be saved) so undermined the holy fear of God and belief in His clear word, which has been transmitted faithfully all these centuries and is found intact in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that people have become “understanding” about persisting in grave sin with no fear of God or of hell?

Has false compassion and presumption on God’s mercy replaced true love, which is based on truth, and the only appropriate response to God’s mercy—faith and repentance?

And what are we to make of the fact that so many of those advising the pope have questionable fidelity to the truth? How can we have confidence in Cardinal Maradiaga as the head of his Council of Cardinals when he is accused of financial impropriety (which he denies); he chose an active homosexual as his auxiliary bishop; and he allowed a homosexual network to grow up in his seminary, dismissing attempts to appeal to him to clean up the mess as unsubstantiated gossip? How can we have confidence in the pope’s main theological advisor, a theologian from Argentina who is most known for his book The Art of the Kiss, or the pope’s main Italian theological advisor, who is known for his subtle dissent from the Church’s teaching in the area of sexuality and who tried to insert texts in the synods on the family that pushed the document in a permissive direction? And how can we have confidence in the recently appointed head of the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family—an archbishop who commissioned a mural in his former cathedral in an Italian diocese from a homosexual artist who included homo-erotic themes in the mural, including a portrait of the archbishop in an ambiguous pose?

One godly woman just asked me last night if it was OK for her to be upset with what was happening. I sadly said yes, of course it is.

How can we passively endure such corruption that runs so wide and deep? It is right to make our views known. It is right and necessary. But even more so, it is necessary to pray and offer sacrifices for the Church and her leaders at this time. It is necessary to pray that genuine reform, rooted in real repentance and an embrace of all the truths of the faith, would come out of this awful situation and that the Church, more deeply purified and humbled, may shine forth with the radiance of the face of Christ.

But it is going to be a long way from here to there. Grave damage has been done to the credibility of the Church, and more will leave. Grave damage has been done to many of the flock, and reparation must be made; public repentance is called for. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote when he was a young priest, the Church will have to become smaller and more purified before it can again be a light to the world. The Church is going through a radical purification under the chastising hand of God, but already we can see a remnant of fervent renewal appearing all over the world, which is a sign indeed of hope and the renewal to come.

And so, what can we do as we continue to pray for the pope and our leaders that God may give them the wisdom and courage to deal with the root of the rot and bring about a real renewal of holiness and evangelization in the Church?

»We need to go about our daily lives, trying to live each day in a way pleasing to God, loving Him and loving our neighbor, including the neighbor in our own families. We need to look to ourselves, lest we fall.

»We need to remember that even though we have this treasure in earthen vessels (or as some translations put it, “cracked pots”), the treasure is no less the treasure. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater! Baby Jesus is the treasure, and He is still as present as ever and still as ready to receive all who come to Him. And the Mass! Every day, He is willing to come to us in such a special way. Let’s attend daily Mass even more frequently, to offer the sacrifice of Jesus’ death and resurrection to God the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of souls and the purification of the Church.

»We need to remember that the Catholic Church is indeed founded by Christ and, despite all problems, has within it the fullness of the means of salvation. Where else can we go? Nowhere; this is indeed our Mother and Home, and she needs our love, our prayers, and our persevering in the way of holiness more than ever.

»We need to remember that there are many truly holy and dedicated bishops and priests, and we must pray for them and support them. They need and deserve our support.

»We need to remember that this isn’t the first time such grave problems have beset the Church. In the fourteenth century, St. Catherine of Siena bemoaned the “stench of sin” coming from the papal court and prophesied that even the demons were disgusted by the homosexual activity he had tempted priests into and the cover up by their superiors! (See chapters 124-125 of Catherine of Siena’s The Dialogue.)

That isn’t to say that we don’t need to take seriously and do all we can in response to the grave scandal we are facing in our time. And yet we need to remember that all this is happening under the providence of God, and He has a plan to bring good out of it. It was even prophesied strongly in Mary’s apparitions in Akita, Japan. Jesus is still Lord and will use the current grave problems to bring about good.

And finally, I’m beginning to see why the Lord has impressed on me so strongly in the past year the urgent need to heed the appeals of Our Lady of Fatima. Indeed, as Mary said,

“Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”

Let’s continue to pray and offer sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and as reparation for sin, and let’s pray the rosary daily as Mary requested, for peace in the world and true renewal in the Church.

Your brother in Christ,

Ralph

P.S. Please feel free to share this letter with family, friends and fellow parishioners if you think it would be helpful. No permission needed.

Ralph Martin

Ralph Martin is president of Renewal Ministries. He also hosts The Choices We Face, a widely viewed weekly Catholic television and radio program distributed throughout the world. Ralph holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome and is a professor and the director of Graduate Theology Programs in the New Evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Detroit. He was named by Pope Benedict XVI as a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization and was also appointed as a “peritus” to the Synod on the New Evangelization. Ralph is the author of a number of books, the most recent of which are The Urgency of the New Evangelization, The Fulfillment of All Desire, and Will Many Be Saved? He and his wife Anne have six children and sixteen grandchildren and reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

122 thoughts on “Dear Troubled Catholics – a Letter From Ralph Martin About the Current Crisis

  1. Thank your words and ministry. Renewal Ministries has been such a help and support to me for so many years.

    With God’s help we will get through these dark days. I hope and pray more Catholics will come to know the grace of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I received this gift my first year in college. I wouldn’t be here right now serving as a priest if it wasn’t for that grace. “Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit says the Lord God Almighty” Zechariah 4:6.

    I will continue to pray for Renewal Ministries and thank you for your faithfulness. I also will pray for the victims of sexual abuse and all those who are so saddened and disheartened by this evil that has entered the Body of Christ. Hebrews 12:2!!

  2. Thank you for helping clarify these truths in your letter. It is sad but in Christ alone our hope is found and as the song says “and on the cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied, for every sin on him was laid…here in the death of Christ, I live” even as grave as this scandal is we keep on walking with our Church… here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

  3. I read your book “The Crisis of Truth” when it was first published and also heard you speak on this topic around the same time. I know that in the decades which have ensued your primary focus has been on evangelization. After all, what better way to confront confusion and distortion than to help people have a loving relationship with He who is Truth — our Lord Jesus Christ.

    But I encourage you and all faithful lay and clerical leaders to continue to speak out against the profound lack of holiness, wisdom and courage that are sadly manifest in those who should be guiding the Faithful. The hedge is down like never before and we should see this as a God-given opportunity for true reform in the Church. Thank you.

  4. Could you please give the Scripture chapter and verse for your comment: “the words of Jesus that fornicators, adulterers, and those who actively practice homosexuality will not enter the kingdom of God unless they repent”? Thank you so much.

  5. If the U.S. Bishops exempted themselves from the “zero-tolerance” Charter in 2002, then it was the responsibility of Pope Benedict to respond to that exemption. It is common sense that human frailty, sin and cover-up that already was gound–would indeed follow. The buck stops there, if the Chuch is proclaiming they can properly investigate themselves. They did not, and should not be able to in criminal matters where they have lost that trust. All bureaucracies are tempted to this kind of manipulation, but the pain, and lack of trust will continue until every State in the U.S., and other Countries, demand the Church deal with criminal behavior first–and–foremost through our U.S. legal process. Obviously, a,”start is a step” back in 2002 Charter, but common sense should tell us all not one human being, priest, lay person, and by all means a Bishop could have the right to “exempt” themselves.

  6. If the Faithful do not demand immediate and sweeping change, the status quo will continue. Prayer and sacrifice yes, but action on our part is also essential.

  7. I appreciate Mr. Martin for you bringing this all forward. As a former employee of a diocese for almost 10 years, I believe the corruption in Catholic leadership; sexual (homo/hetero and financial is beyond what practicing Catholic want to know. Yet, we must serve Christ and then the church and hold clergy accountable as Christians. Even in the corruption of secular society what the Catholic Church clergy engages in is not acceptable.

  8. Mr. Martin, thank you for your eloquently worded letter for all of us Christians to ponder; however, what screams out to me is this….Even among the Apostles, there was Satan rearing his head in the form of temptation of power and money in Jesus’ Apostle Judas. These Judasas are constantly among us. It is IMPERATIVE we call them out and dole their just punishment. I am tired of hearing about this abuse. I am the mother of seven beautiful children, and it is so REPUGNANT to me the cover-ups and behaviors of these supposedly “followerers and teachers of Christ.” It is about time that these predators get the punishment they deserve. It is up to us Christians to protect the most vulnerable…these beautiful little boys. WHEN WILL IT STOP???? Why can we not band together and DEMAND once and for all the arrest and punishment of these Judasas??? I say our first step is withholding our tithing. Maybe the next step is starting a NEW CHURCH, one in which oversight and accountability is of utmost importance. I will continue to pray; however, ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS, as in the hanging of Judas.

  9. You gave me GREAT HOPE for the CHURCH today on the EWTN Morning Glory Show! Want to find a copy of the show and send it to everyone I know who is so depressed! God Bless you for your being Faithful…!!!

  10. Thank you for the complete relevation of what is really happening. Many practicing catholics are at the point of ‘enough is enough’.
    Withdrawal of funds to those who do not preach the gospel of God Christ is a positive step. Confessions need to be put back in the public square. Be brave and challenge. We have tolerated too much for too long. Pray for Ireland a sad day when the people voted for abortions.

  11. Dear Mr. Martin,
    Thank you for your letter. I don’t want to hear from cardinals or archbishops, when can we expect to hear from Francis? Infallible? I am shaken and enraged.
    I will not abandon Jesus in the Eucharist at the altar of His Church, for this is not a reflection of Him but instead, the Pope.
    Why is God allowing this to happen to His Son’s Church?
    I am a passionate, practicing, tithing, devoted Catholic mother of five who is disgusted and discouraged.

  12. Jesus’ words, “You will know them by their fruits” keep coming to mind.
    This is what you get when you declare that every individual has the right to worship according to his own conscience. Bad philosophy and bad theology. False teachings coming out of the Vatican. Perhaps this is what Archbishop Fulton Sheen warned of: a false church aping the Catholic Church. Who could ever believe it? There are some who explain what has happened in the church. Seek Truth.

  13. Thank you brother Ralph for preaching the Gospel so eloquently! Your letter to troubled Catholics is so timely. Just this week, my parish . . . in . . . Florida was stunned to learn that our operations Business Manager was arrested for downloading child porn in the Church office!
    Fortunately, the Diocese of Orlando took swift action. He was fired immediately and our pastor condemned these crimes and offered full support to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. We are praying for our parish and our church.

  14. I write this letter after receiving a word from the Lord while before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, and discerning that the Lord wanted me to write it. I offer this letter to all the leadership in the Holy Catholic Church, on all continents, in every country, in every diocese of our Lord’s Body.

    “The time has come for a new cleansing of the Temple! If true repentance is not forthcoming among our shepherds, God will not withhold His judgment on sin. (Jer 23:1,2)

    Please, Holy Father, cardinals, bishops, priests, and leaders in the Catholic Church–and all Christian churches–hear the pleading of the laity. Cleanse the Church, act to defend the lambs of God from the wickedness of the devil and the deceitfulness of the world.

    Have no more fellowship with sin and selfishness, but rather expose it. Put away from yourselves the lies against the truth with which the Enemy has blinded you. Be no longer conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds in Christ. Cease with this debauchery and its darkness. You are not hidden before Him, to whom nothing is secret which will not be revealed. The light is already shining in the darkness where sin lurks.
    . . .
    Hear the word of the Lord:

    Jesus is not returning, because His Bride is not ready! You have soiled her image, shredded her wedding garments, tarnished her adornments, and crushed her jewels to powder with the pride of your idolatry. . . . Stop! Stop it right now, and turn around! Rescue my Bride and return to Me with works fitting of repentance. Unite My Church and come home to Me. Show yourselves faithful and I will forgive the iniquity of your sins. Do not delay, for the hour is short.”

    So now, we the laity are imploring you, our leaders and shepherds, “Do not turn the grace of our God into lewdness, denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing we shall not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven!”

    The time is at hand. Reconcile yourselves to Christ in the beauty of holiness. Turn away from evil and do good. Please! Before it is too late–as it is appointed to man once to die, and after this the Judgment.

  15. Thank you, Ralph. Your letter was poignant and timely. I grew up in the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ during the 1980’s and attended diocesan Catholic schools when McCarrick was our Archbishop. I recall many ugly rumors, and now some of them seem to have had some credence. We are in uncharted territory with the present crisis. The hierarchy has been infected with sexual immorality and by the Devil Himself for many years.

    Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, sent the Holy Spirit to guide His Holy Roman Catholic Church, His Bride, until the end of time. This is the reason for our hope.

    It is my prayer that these selfish, liberal, and prideful clerics in the hierarchy either repent and change, or be cast out of the Church as part of Her purification. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, which I think applies to all clergy from parish priest to the pope (paraphrasing here): “The lack of a sacramental sign and symbol of a priest’s victimhood in Christ is one of the principal reasons for mediocrity in the Church, especially unholy priests. Be holy priests, and people will love us; be unholy and people will disdain us; especially priests, because they need a holy sense of mission. No boundaries, no limits, no law, no God, no morality, will produce a problem with identity. The ego is evil and demonic and thinks only of itself. If a box is filled with salt there is no room for pepper. If priests are filled with their egos and themselves, then there is no room for Christ.” How prophetic of Fulton Sheen!

    In my opinion, the clergy who will remain faithful to the Magistetium after this purification must return to, especially liturgically, a reverence and awe of all that is sacred. The laity desperately need Holy priests who demonstrate a belief in the supernatural elements of the One True Faith. This will help them to fulfill their chief responsibility which is to help save souls. All things must be restored in Christ, especially Holy Mass. The truth is God Himself and the reality He gave to us in the Divine Law. The Truth must be shouted from the rooftops and proclaimed in every sermon given by our priests. Mickey Mouse homilies, cumbaya guitar Masses, and universalism in that we are all going to heaven because we are nice people is a bunch of lies!!

    The Church belongs to all of God’s people—us! We, the lay faithful, must act. Let’s show a little righteous anger and let the hierarchy know that their actions and cover-up of bad actors will not be tolerated. We should never allow anyone to lead us down a wrong path and away from God. It’s difficult enough to personally take up our crosses daily, and the last thing any of us need is selfish, arrogant, slaves to sin to show us how to go to Hell. God bless you and your work.

  16. I am very troubled, i don’t know which way to turn and because of what these men did ,its like the sins we commit is thousand times worse than what we have committed, its really put me off track.Lord be with me and keep me always focused on you Lord.Thank you Jesus.

  17. As far as I am concerned, there is only one answer. When these priests go to confession, their penance should be to turn themselves into the civil authorities. Unless they agree to do so, they are to be told that their sins are not resolved. That does not break the seal of confession, it puts the responsibility on the offender.

  18. After listening to what you (bishops of the American Catholic Church) have said regarding the sexual abuse horror perpetrated by clergy of all ranks, I offer the following.

    You are collectively responsible, and some of you personally responsible, for allowing this cancer to infect the Church. Just like cancer, it is ravaging the life of the Church at its most fundamental level and will eventually do incalculable harm if it isn’t dealt with.

    Your public responses to this, with very few exceptions, indicate that you really don’t get it. You say you are ashamed, apologize to victims, promise to do better in the future, and are going to produce yet another document to prove how sincere you are.

    A new document may soothe your conscience somewhat but it will not begin to deal with the problem because the problem is not greater clarity and transparency. The root of the problem is spiritual and you are not seriously addressing it. Some of you speak about the need for prayer and ask the laity to join you in it. We are happy to do so but…

    But let me make a suggestion which I believe goes to the heart of it.

    The American bishops need to collectively come together for a week. Put aside all of your bishop’s regalia: your miters, croziers, pectoral crosses, rings. Take only your Bible and Breviary. Put on sackcloth and put ashes on your heads and with prayer and fasting prostrate yourselves before your Lord and repent. Deep and sustained repentance.

    You are the ones who allowed the cancer to grow. You turned blind eyes to clerical pedophilia, pederasty, homosexuality, sexual relations with women (both married and single).You abused your authority through cover-ups, reassignments, rationalization. You betrayed the trust your flock put in you. It will take more than a couple of mea culpas and a document to repair that. And these are just the sexual problems.

    You first need to repair your relationship with the Lord and hear what He has to say to you. What you have done in betraying Him is much worse than what you have done to us. That is why I say you need a week of prayer and fasting. I don’t believe you can hear what He has to say to you in less than that. You have not yet given Him your full attention.

    After you have humbled yourselves and turned back to your Lord you can do two things which need to be done with absolute honesty and integrity First, clean out your own USCCB mess. You know who has done what and if a bishop is not willing to step forward, you need to call him out. Second, go back to your dioceses and do exactly the same thing. Don’t stop at either place until you have done a thorough job of “cleansing the evil from your midst.”

    After you have done all of that, then you can write a truly meaningful document.

    I can hear the responses from many of you already. “It isn’t practical to get us all together.” “We are very busy.” “You don’t understand what it takes to run a diocese.” Trust me. Your diocese can get along without you for a week just fine. What better way to care for your diocese than to repent and turn back to the Lord.

    The Good Shepherd is giving you an opportunity right now to follow Him and be shepherded by Him. Don’t pass it up.

  19. Our clergy who have been complacent, complicit and compliant in this:

    “The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to them: To the shepherds, thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds pasture the flock? You consumed milk, wore wool, and slaughtered fatlings, but the flock you did not pasture. You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the stray or seek the lost but ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts. They were scattered and wandered over all the mountains and high hills; over the entire surface of the earth my sheep were scattered. No one looked after them or searched for them. Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live—oracle of the Lord GOD —because my sheep became plunder, because my sheep became food for wild beasts, for lack of a shepherd, because my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep, therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD: Look! I am coming against these shepherds. I will take my sheep out of their hand and put a stop to their shepherding my flock, so that these shepherds will no longer pasture them. I will deliver my flock from their mouths so it will not become their food.”
    ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭34:1-10‬ ‭NABRE‬‬
    http://bible.com/463/ezk.34.1-10.nabre

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