Evil should not be a barrier to faith

Friday, February 08, 2019 - Updated: 3:36 pm

QUESTION: My husband has not been to Mass since the Grand Jury Report was made public last summer. Not even Christmas would bring him around. I am not sure what to do.

ANSWER: The Grand Jury Report was a chronicle of terrible wounds that were inflicted on innocent young people by those who were supposed to be their shepherds. It made most of us disgusted and ashamed. For many of us it was a severe trauma.

While our first thoughts and efforts must always be directed toward the victims of abuse, this article focuses on others who were affected by the revelation of those crimes. It is understandable that some are still recovering from this trauma. Feelings may well up from within us and prompt us to anger at the people and institutions that we hold accountable. Those feelings are natural, and we are not responsible for the feelings themselves. What we are responsible for is what we do about them.

Some of the initial decisions that were made were in response to raw emotions. Some people made a choice to cease practicing their Catholic faith. Some chose to withhold contributions to their parish or the diocese. With the passing of time, however, some have begun to take a wider view.

While some are not ready to take that wider view, it is important to explore some of its elements. Some people have begun to ask how staying away from the sacraments does any good for anyone? Does it help the victims? Does it punish those who abused children, does it help any of us? Others are thinking about their parishes and what good is done there by so many parishioners who had absolutely nothing to do with the abuse of children.

During all that we should be aware that the church has never been perfect. Too often it resembles the Adam of old and not the new Adam who is Christ. But while the body of the church is imperfect, its head, Christ is. And it is Christ that is the center of the church, not any human being.

Are we allowing the behavior of some priests to change our own spiritual lives? Why would we allow those who abused young people to continue to abuse us by robbing us of the sacraments of our Catholic faith? No one has the right to do that, no one should be allowed to do that.

Many of us are still processing the horrible events narrated in the Grand Jury Report and that will take time. But that evil need not continue to be a barrier to our practice of faith. There is no surer way that evil triumphs than for it to destroy the good that is within us and still within the church.

Somehow, we need to help each other overcome the evil that was revealed in the report by working toward restoring the good that we can do together. One place that happens is when we worship and work together within the church. We need the sacramental life of the church; the church needs us to continue to be what Christ challenges us to be.

Father Bober is administrator of the grouping that includes St. Kilian in Adams/Cranberry townships and Holy Sepulcher in Glade Mills.

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