Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A season of purification

GLOBAL news organizations hollered stories like “Pope opens Holy Week amid sex abuse crisis” and variations on the resurgent theme of a church put to shame by pedophiles among its ranks.

The New York Times have been singled out to have said the loudest when it splattered on its front page last week the story that the Holy Father had prevented sanctions against Fr. Lawrence Murphy, a Milwaukee priest who abused about 200 deaf children several decades ago.

Another blew up the story in London that people, but actually only a few dozens, gathered outside Westminster Cathedral to demand the Pope’s resignation. In Austria, the media unearthed several cases in recent weeks which moved the archbishop of Vienna to create a Church-funded independent commission to look into Austrian abuse claims. In Switzerland, President Doris Leuthard is reportedly planning to establish a central registry of pedophile priests to prevent them from coming into contact with more children.

In Rome, the media drumbeats stories about the Pope’s handling of sex abuse cases when he was archbishop of Munich and when he headed the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was the archbishop of Munich when a priest, who was later convicted of abusing minors, was allowed to resume pastoral work with children even while undergoing therapy for pedophilia.

At the other side of the fence, noted Catholic scholar George Weigel wrote that the media portrayal that the Catholic Church is “the epicenter of the sexual abuse of the young” is not true, because “by empirical measure, the safest environment for young people in America today” is the Catholic Church—where recent studies show that 2% of sex abuse offenders were catholic priests between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s and thereafter seems to have virtually disappeared except some 6 cases of clerical sexual abuse in 2009.

Be that as it may, but Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household—and of the recent 2nd National Congress of the Clergy in Manila—is of the belief that that Church and its members is called to purity themselves and, if there is humility, then “the church will end up more resplendent than ever from this war.”

Well meaning Catholics have looked with disdain on how the media has seem to be ganging up on the church or as Weigel puts it “has taken up the agenda to take the Church down and discredit its moral authority.” But again the holy priest, Fr. Cantalamessa, sees it differently when he said in a Lenten retreat given to the pope and the Roman Curia of late, that “the media’s tenacity—and we have seen it in other cases—in the long run will bring about the opposite effect that they had hoped for.”

Indeed, the reform on this underside of priestly life which Canon Law and Church leaders could not do in centuries, the media did in a few years—consciously or otherwise.

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