The Church and Christians are under attack. There doesn’t seem to be a week go by that the “news” doesn’t report another assault by clergy on children. The news simply wants to put the Church and clergy in worst possible light. Why shouldn’t they? I can think of no worse crime and moral failure of anyone than to be so hypocritical as to preach the love of God, call others to great moral behavior, and at the same time sin against that preaching. We all suffer greatly, because a few clergy abused children and (I suspect) many more clergy “looked the other way.” We are all sinners and ought not judge others, but who can let that keep us from calling it like it is. While the abused hurt most of all, we all, not just Christians, are infuriated by this evil.
I am encouraged by what the Diocese of Saginaw and the local Catholic Church has put in place to protect children from ever being abused. All people who work with children in any capacity must have training in the knowledge and prevention of child abuse. In that training they learn the signs of abuse and of perpetrators and are required to report possible abuse not only to Church officials, but to the police. In this training participants learn to avoid those situations where abuse might occur. This training applies to not only paid staff, but to anyone who has contact with children as volunteers. We are also required to repeat this training every three years. I think it would be good if every adult took this training whether they work with children or not. We all need to be vigilant to protect our children.
The Diocese of Saginaw wants you to report any history of sexual abuse by clergy and if those accusations are found credible, that person is prosecuted by the law and loses their privileges. There have been credible accusations made by abused individuals from the 1950s to the present and those perpetrators have been dealt with.
In spite of this good and bad news, George Weigel, a popular Catholic journalist writes that “young men are applying in greater numbers than 20 years ago” for formation to the priesthood. He writes that these men know this is not a popular, risk-free, vocation, yet are willing to respond to the call of the Holy Spirit to serve the Church. He writes that they deserve our prayers, friendship, and support. I would also add, our vigilance.
“May the Lord bless and keep you. May he let his face shine upon you and give you his peace.”