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Nick Morgan
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Hi John, This is really a tough issue, it still blows my mind! As a Catholic I am deeply saddened and greived by what's happened in the Church, and not only in the US but in many parts of the world. I know I can't even begin to imagine the pain and the sense of betrayal felt by those who have been the victims of the abuse. I wonder how many of the clergy abusers were abused themselves? And I'm sure the guilt, shame, and despair many of the abusers feel is overwhelming. And yet, I also know that the number of clergy abusers is only a small percentage of the total number of priests and religious we have in the RCC, those who carry on their duties faithfully, if yet imperfectly due to the weakness of sin, day in and day out. Having said all of this though, I don't think that the nature of the ministerial priesthood, as understood by the RCC, is in any way to blame for what has happened, neither the abuse nor the bungled actions by our Bishops in handling this crisis. John, as you know, our understanding of the ministerial priesthood is linked to our belief in Apostolic Succession and the authority to consecrate the Eucharist in the Mass. Vatican II didn't change the essence of the church's teaching on this, but returned the emphasis to the forgotten aspect of the "priesthood of all believers" and what this means for the life of the church. This was not a new doctrine, but a forgotten and neglected one. For example, my Mom and her generation seemed to have no concept of the "priesthood of the believer", they relied on the sacramental priesthood for everything. Our understanding of the ministerial priesthood is that it is a once and for all gift of God's grace, irrevocable, "an indelible mark on the soul". A priest can be laicized and totally forbidden from carrying out any priestly functions, but is always a priest by sacramental grace. If anything in our hierarchical structure contributed to this disaster, it is the sheer size of the RCC. With over 1 billion members, Priests, religious, and bishops all over the world, managing a crisis of this nature and magnitude probably became a logistical nightmare, and it seems that then Cardinal Ratzinger and the Vatican were unaware of the scope and seriousness of this scandal until the late 80s, which by then much of the damage from abusers in the US had already occured, though the reports and media explosion occured later. I think that fear, embarassment, poor psychological advice and maybe some ostrich thinking helped this disaster to grow and spiral out of control until it finally blew up in our faces. I know it's not wise to try to guess the reasons behind God's providencial actions, but in this case it seems that God was saying "enough is enough, if you won't handle it, I WILL!" Of course I could be wrong, but it sure seems to fit. God disciplines His shepherds when they fail to properly care for His flock. Well, these are just my thoughts on this horrible tragedy that will leave scars on the RCC for generations to come. Sadly too, we've given the enemies of the RCC plenty of ammunition to blast away at us with and mock our gracious and loving God as well. May our Holy Triune God have mercy on His church and heal the wounds caused by our sin and negligence!! Amen.
Hi John, Thank you for these wonderful posts. Experiencing God's love, and learning to love Him back by loving others is truly where I have the most growing to do spiritually. God bless you my friend!
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Jun 27, 2010