What Comes from Within: The Sins of the Fathers (and Bishops) – Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Source: americamagazine.org

In an email to me, a loving friend and devoted Catholic, included this line concerning the recent news of further abuse and cover ups in the Church: “I can only think now about my grandchildren and what in God’s name will the Church hold for them.”

The Catholic Church has had a deepening problem with credibility for many years when it involves protecting vulnerable people.. The erosion of trust is spreading so quickly that it will take a long time for the Church to recover. And if we are fortunate, it will recover with new models, rather than ever return to an old normal.

We hear some truthful words from today’s Gospel. “The things that come out of a person are what defile them. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.”

Very few have committed all the items on this list, but all of us are well-aware of the particular evils that come from our own hearts. Jealousy, gossip, and anger are more likely than murder. Our sins are rarely so severe that they change our lives or send us to prison. More common is the gradual accumulation of little things that become unfortunate patterns in our life. However, we know that some things that come from within are deserving of prison.

No Catholic who pays even the slightest attention to our culture can be naïve about the scandal of clerical abuse in our world. We all know that the issue is also a reality in families and in every profession in the world. It is not enough to say the problem is much bigger than the Church. That is not a helpful place to go. It makes us think that we can deal with the issue and then go back to the way things used to be. We cannot go back.

With each revelation of abuse or the cover up of abuse, the Church becomes less and less credible. Should authorities in the Church be surprised by the decreasing numbers in the pews!  Should they be surprised that so many good people pay no attention to Church teaching on moral issues, especially ones that deal with sexuality!

Some Church authorities seem to assume that people will listen to their instruction on their lives and then ignore the reality of how those very authorities use the bodies and hearts of people under their authority.

An August 24, 2018 letter from Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Jesuits throughout the world, is a follow up to Pope Francis’ recent letter on sharing the suffering of victims of abuse and fostering a culture of protection. Sosa calls us to collaborate with Francis in “healing this situation in the Church.” I’ll pray for that and I’ll do all I can to bring healing. But I suggest that prayer and good thoughts are not enough. Sometimes something more is required.

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 08:51h, 02 September Reply

    Thank you Philip!

  • Lorraine Majcen
    Posted at 14:16h, 02 September Reply

    Well said Fr Shano. Thank you!!
    Changes in Vatican, Catholic church laws, and reform, to manage and prevent this crisis in the future, is needed urgently now. So that once again trust and credibility in the Catholic church can be restored.

  • Marian Krauskopf
    Posted at 15:31h, 02 September Reply

    Thank you Phil,
    This is a difficult time and so difficult have conversations that do not devolve into desolation. Using this public platform is so important and is courageous.

  • Noreen Zarand
    Posted at 14:51h, 03 September Reply

    “Shame on you”, indeed Shame on you Cardinal Wuerl, alas the burden of Shame is now on all of us. How can this be? The figures are monumental: 300 priests and over 1000 victims in PA alone. Pope Francis, demand the resignation of all American Bishops involved as you demanded of the Chilean Bishops resignation in June 2018. Furthermore, the clerical system that feeds the powerful for their own gratification for privilege, the time is up, it’s over! My heart knows for certain this Church as it presently operates cannot survive. God, in your mercy, help all the faithful, laity and priests who know we are all capable of sinfulness, to remain steadfast in our determination to support Francis who MUST change this powerful force that has now shown its own destruction to the whole world. How dare they?
    I trust that you Philip will do your utmost to engage along with others to bring about change, we must, it’s our duty.

  • Catherine Cherry
    Posted at 20:43h, 03 September Reply

    Dear Philip,
    This is what I have come to: In ordinary good times people can live ordinary good lives. In times of crisis, or times when we are faced with a great evil, not ‘people’, but each of us, is called to go deeper and live lives marinated in holiness. That is where we are now, and it is the fruit of God’s presence in the midst of this mess.
    Catherine Cherry

  • Craig Chamberlain
    Posted at 21:35h, 03 September Reply

    What are our attachments? Perhaps we need to consider fewer parishes that are better supported, as part of moving forward..

  • Katherine Tam
    Posted at 15:25h, 04 September Reply

    “But I suggest that prayer and good thoughts are not enough. Sometimes something more is required.”

    Thank you for expressing the sentiment of many Catholics. My 30 year old daughter used to be very vocal and active on social media about the sex abuse scandals in the Church. This time, she has not said a word about the situation. She said that nothing she says or do will be productive. She’s choosing to walk away.

  • Philip Shano
    Posted at 18:51h, 04 September Reply

    Thanks so much for your comments. I know that there are others who express their concerns. Katherine, your daughter is not alone. There are so many wonderful people who have and are walking away. I completely understand that as a response to the reality of the Church.

  • Michael Bautista
    Posted at 20:38h, 06 September Reply

    I am reminded of James:
    “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
    What the victims deserve is justice, and what the church must show is action.

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