Note: This is Part Two of a two-part essay about the recent sexual abuse summit. Part One can be found here.
2. There are in fact two Churches in America and in other parts of the world.
Unfortunately, that kind of acceptance does not seem to be forthcoming anytime soon, because as I mentioned in a recent article on this site, for all intents and purposes there are two Catholic churches in America. One “Church” is marked by clerical and academic elites, as well as their political and media allies, who, whatever their intentions are, are bound and determined to “serve two masters” when it comes to current cultural issues and the teachings of the Catholic Church. They write papers few people read, hold conferences, and comfortably mix and mingle with movers and shakers of the world, as they “celebrate” a “faith community” that is “diverse” where “all are welcome” to come to the “table of plenty.” They are not about to rock the Barque.
The other church is made of up of a great crowd of people who utterly are sick and tired of watching as a deviant minority of Church leaders have turned the Barque of St. Peter into a Corinthian-themed cruise ship that stops at all the worst ports and where the “worship spaces” and the “services” that occur there are just one among the many other attractions on the ship. And when they want to complain to the captain, they are told that he will “not be saying one thing.” This is a Church that is hungry for a more virile faith that honors tradition, spiritual discipline, and the pursuit of holiness. A laity, many of whom still bear the scars from the malingering effects of the cultural and sexual revolution of the Boomer generation, are forming apostolates, going on retreats, and forming their own websites and publishing houses in order to protect the next generation from those effects.
3. It’s Time for the Laity to Admit the Facts and Get to Work
This is not the first time that sexual scandals has rocked the Church, as it was noted that the Summit providentially began on February 21st, the feast day of St. Peter Damian whose 9th century work The Book of Gomorrah detailed an equally sexually and politically corrupt clergy. Moreover, we know from both Scripture and Tradition that we are in engaged in an age-old spiritual war against the “wiles of the evil one.” More to the point though, based on the vision of Pope Leo XIII and the revelations given by Our Lady of Fatima, we know that we are nearing the end of a 100-year concerted attack on the Church. An attack that, as Sister Lucia once told Cardinal Carlo Caffara, would be against marriage and the family. And so it has, as the flotsam and jetsam of that battle are all around us.
So what is to be done? The revelations of the all the sex abuse and their cover-ups have been so great a scandal for the Church that there are times I think a fitting epithet of the current state of the Church could be “And then there were none,” as the faithful have either scatter into spiritual apathy or outright rejection of the faith. From this perspective the future certainly looks grim, and it is hard to see how, short of a miracle, things will turn around. However, so long as we have the sacraments, it so happens that we have all the miracles we need, for as St. Paul reminds us, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:19). Thus it is in the weakest point in this current spiritual war, where we will find the greatest strength: the family.
Before we can attempt to tackle the problems in the Church today, let alone to renew its culture, we must first get our own domestic church in order. Whether you are married or single, have kids or don't, every one of us must take a long and hard look at how we are ordering our lives. Are we spending too much time and resources chasing after the false promises and the Mammonabilia of the secular world, or are we making a firm amendment of purpose to put God first and so clean up our little part of the Barque of St. Peter (yeah that “Rainbow Deck” has got to go!) and get it back on its proper course? This will of course require us to make prayer, fasting, and regular reception of the sacraments more of a regular practice in our lives, and we must uplift and encourage one another to do the same.
Still, all of this is just the beginning, and certainly more concrete ideas about how to use the “old” evangelization to bring about a new era in the Church will be discussed in future articles. However, I will leave you with this final thought.
In J.R.R. Tolkien's second book in his Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers, the wizard Gandalf (who had returned from death) counsels King Théoden of Rohan that in order to help aid the quest to destroy the Ring of Power, he must first destroy the forces Isengard. There Gandalf's fellow wizard, Saruman, had formed his own army and was attempting to find the ring himself and make himself master of Middle Earth.
After retreating to Rohan's strongest fortress, Helm's Deep, Saruman's forces attack Théoden's people, but after an all-night battle Saruman's forces are defeated. Later, when Gandalf, Théoden, and the other members of the Fellowship ride off to try and talk with Saruman, they stop briefly to survey the forest of living trees (Huorns and Ents) which had come to their aid in the battle. Théoden worries about the wages of the war ahead and laments at the thought of losing all that is good and beautiful in Middle Earth. Gandalf strengthens him with these words, “It may...the evil of Sauron cannot be wholly cured, nor made as if it had not been. But to such days we are doomed. Let us now go on with the journey we have begun.”
The effects of the clerical abuse scandal will be felt for a long time to come, and while that may change sometime in the future, for the time being we are in a way “doomed” to walk a dark road. I think we all know that, but still we must not lose heart. For just as we know that the One Ring is destroyed in The Lord of the Rings, we also know that whether the road ahead is dark or bright, our blessed Lord has assured us, “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Photo: Ty Lohr, York Daily Record