Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Thoughts on clergy sexual abuse: Daily Mass Homily--Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

(Listen to this homily here).

            “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.”
            This morning I would like to speak a little bit about the news from yesterday of the releasing of names of seven credibly accused priests.  Now I don’t know anything more than you do, so I don’t want to comment on the particulars, but on the clergy sexual abuse in general.
            First, our hearts break—as does mine—when we hear the reports of such crimes.  As they should.  Our thoughts and prayers go first to the victims of abuse and their families.  I pray God shows them mercy, that they may receive healing, that they may know of God’s love in profound ways, especially as God promises to be close to the brokenhearted.  I pray that they receive justice and truth.  And as a Church we always put them first.  We always place the victims first. 
            And, as a reminder, it is the standard policy in our Church and in our parish, that should anybody—yourself or otherwise, especially children—have experienced abuse or harm from a clergyman or anyone else for that matter, we go first to the police.  This is the first place we go.  We let our brothers and sisters in law enforcement handle that process.
            Second, how do we respond to evil?  We have been rocked in the state of Minnesota.  I don’t know how much you have read about what is going on in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, or in our own diocese, or now with the Oblates but how do we respond to evil?  This has been on my heart a lot in prayer.  When really bad things happen, what is our personal response?  I pray that it is holiness!  All that we are reading about is the result of human sin.  Our personal response to human sin and evil in the world, I pray for all of us, is a deeper relationship with Jesus.  He is the one that leads us.
            That leads to a third point I want to share this morning.  We heard Jesus call the twelve apostles, that every one of these men was a sinner.  Peter denied Jesus.  Judas betrayed Jesus.  Not one of those men was at the cross (except for John) because they fled out of fear.  The Church has been and will always be built on sinful people.  Popes, bishops, priests and all of our lay faithful. 
            And so, when we hear of bad news of Catholics or priests or bishops, we do not want to attribute to the Church—which is without spot or wrinkles—the sins of individuals.  We all have sins.  I am a sinner.  I love that the first way Pope Francis responded to the question in an Italian journal—who is Jorge Bergoglio?—“I am a sinner.  And I don’t mean that as a cliché.  I am a sinner in need of a savior.”
            Yes, our Church can do amazing things…Jesus can work through sinners, and he has.  If you have personally been impacted by one of the priests who have now been named (without knowing all the facts)—to know that Jesus did work—he still does work—through sinful people.
             We gather this morning, most fittingly as a parish family around the altar to pray for any victims, for any perpetrators, for our parish and the Oblates this morning.  We pray, “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place all our trust in you.”

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