Abuse scandals and the call to authenticity
I get it. You’re probably reading this headline thinking “Is this Clickbait?”. It is not. There is an important point being made here.
All of the sex abuse scandals are probably amidst the most horrific events we have ever heard of in the Church’s recent history. They are in themselves, disgusting betrayals of the most vulnerable amidst us. We hate that they happened, not persons but their occurrence.
But there is only one thing we should abhor more; a culture of cover-ups. We should hate that they were covered up and permitted to continue because those in power refused to do what is right and preferred what was easy. Justice, after all, would have required scandal and scrutiny, right? No, it is wrongdoing that causes scandal and scrutiny. We can further examine this point through an exercise of the imagination. Imagine the damage done to these children, now imagine the unfathomable damage done to the people of God that we have yet to measure from this fallout, imagine the number of souls that will now run from the very vehicle of salvation made to aid them in their journey towards the Lord because of the evil that has been done. Imagine, the situation these souls are now in exposed in the spiritual wilds of the world now because the Church failed to think of these children and also of them.
These shepherds (not all but those), who have betrayed Justice have also betrayed us, the faithful in the most spiritually intimate sense. They have betrayed their very function and purpose in the Body like eyes that refuse to see or ears that do not hear. It is our children they abused, it is our hearts they selfishly refused to protect. These children are one in the Body with us and those of us who are detached from this metaphysical and spiritual reality should pray for softness of heart and an impartation of understanding regarding God’s revealed plan for the body.
That said, these false shepherds who abused others and their co-conspirators who have covered for them have forced God to use the state as an alternate recourse to the very justice they failed to give these victims.
3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for [d]good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. – Romans 13:4
That said, this article isn’t a praise of the merits of governmental authority. We all know governments have plenty of problems, but this article is certainly about the future. The revelation of these abuses (not the abuses) is actually the best possible event to occur to the church because it no longer affords deceivers and liars the opportunity to hide behind scripture as they fail to represent the very holy scriptures that they quoted in homilies. These revelations (not the abuses) are good because they make accountability mandatory and forces evil to settle up for the damage that it has done to these children and frankly to the Gospel.
But more deeply now, these revelations (not the abuses) are good because God demands authenticity. God is not satisfied with the appearance of holiness and the smell of incense while in secret the stink of hypocrisy wafts from white-washed coffins. God desires men and women after his own heart whose souls echo the crystalline halls described by St. Teresa of Avila and who permit our Lord to reign supreme in the throne rooms of their souls. After all, we know what God desires:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8
These Revelations (not the abuses) are but the beginning of an important new movement by the Holy Spirit to open the window and doors so the air within the Church can clear and so that victims can finally find peace and restitution. Consequently, permitting those doors and windows to remain open will finally allow winds of Ruah to blow out evil while ushering in His sons and daughters. These revelations force us to take a new look at what it means to follow Christ in fullness and authenticity. It allows us to refocus on God as our Father in the much-needed humility that this shame brings so that we can focus on what is right and true rather than what makes us appear so to others. There is absolutely a difference between the two. Truly, it is shameful and disgusting that these abuses happened but in their revelation, we finally see rays of justice awaken us from the proud stupor of self-righteousness and self-preservation that we have held dear at the cost of the very flock we are sworn to serve.
These revelations are not only necessary forms of Justice, but they are a path to renewal if we but accept the righteous discipline of our Father in Heaven.
If we return to the Lord and do what is right, if we build a church less concerned with power, position, and wealth and one that is focused on the needy and the broken, the lost and the underserved, on service to those in need rather than self-serving intellectual gymnastics then we will grow in love and our Lord’s grace. This will allow us to finally cut off the cancerous comforts of sin that infect our church and cause predators to prey on the sheep like the wolves rather than shepherds.
If we submit to God as a Church willing to embrace him in spiritual encounter knowing that he will greet us as sons and daughters not as strangers. If we allow for our own interior conversions, then the Lord will again renew the Church and renew His people. If we do what is right and repent of our wrongs, then we will once again see the Light of his love shine upon us.
These revelations are necessary because God will not allow his Church and his Body to become a den of iniquity. It is for the good of these victims and for all of our good, clergy and faithful alike, and not our harm that God demands Justice be done.
Simply reflect upon this final scripture if you have doubts:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” – Hebrews 12:6
So, if today, you feel unsure or scared for the church’s future or if you question where God is in all of this then be assured… This is God stepping in, mightily and powerfully, to restore justice in the land.