by: David A. Sylvester on May 12th, 2010 | 16 Comments »
At last Pope Benedict XVI is moving the Catholic Church toward the truth: the victims need justice and the Church needs transformation. In this, he shows the human struggle for and against change — and the path of renewal ahead.
Last Easter, the Roman Catholic Church, my beloved church, seemed to retreat into a shell of institutional defensiveness. Some of the top clerics absurdly complained of an anti-Catholic backlash similar to “anti-Semitism” when, in fact, it was facing the cry for justice among the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests for decades.
But when you love someone, or some community, you see the greatness that lies within the heart. Every parent knows what the faith of love is like. You weep with grief over the child’s destructive behavior, but you never think these actions are the final verdict of the child’s nature. With the eyes of love, you see that your child’s destructive actions are only mistaken aberrations and that his or her inner goodness always remains the truer self.
That’s why I castigated the Church for its self-pity — a dominant Euro-centric organization of 1 billion members is not a very convincing candidate for victimhood — but also explained why I have faith in the Catholic Church. Back in April I wrote:
It is precisely at the moment of moral challenge, whether from the suffering of the sexually abused or the victims of anti-Jewish genocide, that the Catholic Church has the opportunity to show its true self. It has the powerful spiritual tools of prayer and Gospel values for uncovering the roots of the errors of the past and making the necessary changes.
It is my faith and conviction that this will – and must – happen. This is why the sturm und drang of the moment does not disillusion me. The best in the Catholic tradition reflects a pilgrim Church on the journey of growth and change.
Now it is time to acknowledge, and celebrate, that the best in the Church is emerging, at least for the moment. It is taking responsibility for its own sins, recognizing the attacks from the world are justified and that the Church needs to change.