Thursday, April 29, 2010

You Go Back to your Prayers and Let Us Handle It

or, If I were Irish, This Would Make me Scream

But as I'm only part Irish, and no part Catholic, and the letter is therefore not addressed to me, I merely sigh.

This is the concluding section of Pope Benedict's recent letter to the Irish concerning the mostly-homosexual, pedophile scandal. It outlines, as you see, how the Pope proposes to deal with it. My captions inserted, in blue, so you can see a quick summary of How to Deal With This Crisis.

14. I now wish to propose to you some concrete initiatives to address the situation.

I'm setting aside Lent this year as a time when you should pray.

At the conclusion of my meeting with the Irish bishops, I asked that Lent this year be set aside as a time to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country.  You should go to Confession and do penance and try to obtain mercy for the Church.  I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.

You should make reparations for the sexual abuse by adoring the Eucharist.

Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland in the fullness of God’s own truth, for it is the truth that sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32).

A Papal Visit

Furthermore, having consulted and prayed about the matter, I intend to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations. Arrangements for the Visitation, which is intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal, will be made in cooperation with the competent offices of the Roman Curia and the Irish Episcopal Conference. The details will be announced in due course.

I'm ordering a retreat ("mission") for clergy and monastics, to review conciliar documents and papal teaching on priesthood.  I also propose that a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious. It is my hope that, by drawing on the expertise of experienced preachers and retreat-givers from Ireland and from elsewhere, and by exploring anew the conciliar documents, the liturgical rites of ordination and profession, and recent pontifical teaching, you will come to a more profound appreciation of your respective vocations, so as to rediscover the roots of your faith in Jesus Christ and to drink deeply from the springs of living water that he offers you through his Church.

Always keep in mind that you are dependent upon us (priests) for your salvation.  In this Year for Priests, I commend to you most particularly the figure of Saint John Mary Vianney, who had such a rich understanding of the mystery of the priesthood. “The priest”, he wrote, “holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods.” The Curé d’Ars understood well how greatly blessed a community is when served by a good and holy priest: “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy.” Through the intercession of Saint John Mary Vianney, may the priesthood in Ireland be revitalized, and may the whole Church in Ireland grow in appreciation for the great gift of the priestly ministry.

In some countries, we've already taken steps to protect children.  We just haven't applied them in Ireland until now.  Never mind why; the important thing is, now we have begun to work on it.  What, specifically, we are doing, we needn't mention.  I take this opportunity to thank in anticipation all those who will be involved in the work of organizing the Apostolic Visitation and the Mission, as well as the many men and women throughout Ireland already working for the safety of children in church environments. Since the time when the gravity and extent of the problem of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions first began to be fully grasped, the Church has done an immense amount of work in many parts of the world in order to address and remedy it. While no effort should be spared in improving and updating existing procedures, I am encouraged by the fact that the current safeguarding practices adopted by local Churches are being seen, in some parts of the world, as a model for other institutions to follow.

Here's a special prayer for you, opening with a very tactful reminder that you'll go to hell unless you remain a faithful Catholic.  I wish to conclude this Letter with a special Prayer for the Church in Ireland, which I send to you with the care of a father for his children and with the affection of a fellow Christian, scandalized and hurt by what has occurred in our beloved Church.  And, finally, to deal with this sorry situation, here's my papal blessing.  As you make use of this prayer in your families, parishes and communities, may the Blessed Virgin Mary protect and guide each of you to a closer union with her Son, crucified and risen. With great affection and unswerving confidence in God’s promises, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.

From the Vatican, 19 March 2010, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph
Not that I particularly recommend it, but you can read the entire letter at the Vatican website, together with the prayer.  You'll find nothing about policy change or concrete reforms or disciplinary steps or safety measures to protect children, not a word.


MAP said...

The pope's suggestions are actually quite good. Reform, and the recognition of general human sinfulness, always begins at home. And responding to the call to holiness by living a life in God's grace, clinging fervently to the Holy Sacraments, is the best way to achieve that reform, fundamentally.

This was the point of this particular letter. It was not intended to be a policy letter but rather a pastoral letter. This is stated outright, "I write to you as Pastor of the universal Church."

Thank God for Pope Benedict. Your insolence, Anastasia, is in terribly poor taste. I think the Orthodox could take a note from Benedict's general suggestions here in addressing their own problems and sins.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Policy is an essential component of sound pastoring - specifically, a policy about killing lions and driving away wolves.

A pastor, to be credible, has to have (and in this case, to show he has) an effective policy in place for defending his flock.