Two Views on One Topic
A Few words on Thomas Reese’s article: When saints fall.
A friend of mine recently shared an article about Jean Vanier, written by Thomas Reese SJ (National Catholic Reporter). Given the sordid details of Vanier’s reported behaviour, Reese’s article paradoxically ends up giving an uplifting perspective on the realities of good and evil.
Reese begins his article by reminding us that Scripture is full of people who went astray and who sinned, i.e. Abraham, David, etc.. “The message of the Scriptures is not that these are holy men but that God can use flawed and sinful people to do great things.” Reese states that he does not forgive those who prey on the vulnerable (including Vanier) and that he will leave this forgiveness to God.
Reese is also angry that these people have made him a cynic. “It has gotten to the point where I even take Mother Teresa, Pope Francis and Big Bird with a grain of salt.” That people have fallen is not a new reality. Abusers of power have existed from the beginning of humanity. What is of significance in Reese’s article is the perspective he takes on life and reality in the face of darkness and evil.
Towards the end of his article Reese presents two questions: “How can there be a God when there is such evil in the world?” asked by people who can not make sense of evil. Reese further asks the opposite question: given where we have come from “why is there good in the world?”
The existence of goodness is as a result of the presence of God and the Holy Spirit in our world. Thomas Reese’s important message rings true in the midst of the darkness: “don’t let sin blind you to the presence of grace in our world. Be surprised by love.” (Grace Colella)
Let Them Who Are Without Sin
News of John Vanier’s sexual manipulation came as a shock. I have always admired him and wished I had his commitment. When I first saw the headline running at the bottom of the TV news screen, I thought this is probably fake news.
Somebody is making an outrageous allegation. Then a few days past and details emerged; yes, it was true. Another example that people will use to question following catholic leaders.
Obviously what he did was egregious and seriously sinful. He not only destroyed his own reputation, but his behaviour caused psychological trauma to those abused. The only way I can cope with this is to pray over Jesus’ wise words: “Let them who are without sin, cast the first stone.” May the women who were manipulated receive healing. May the many people who work at L’Arche and feel betrayed be given the capacity to forgive.
I pray that those who believe in the L’Arche mission, will continue to serve the needs of the handicapped people who are valued and loved. May this discovery be a time for greater transparency and accountability. (John Montague)
Thomas Reese’s article – When saints fall – was published on National Catholic Reporter (https://www.ncronline.org) Feb. 25, 2020