For the sake of His sorrowful passion...
Oh, how to write about all that is going on in our Church?! There is so much to unpack. The hurt, the lies, the corruption. The evil one has been at work for many decades. One would have thought that we were done with these scandals after all the uncovering and bankruptcies happening across the country. But alas, here we are with even more devastating stories. And I speak particularly of this most recent accusation of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò stating that the cover ups (specifically of Cardinal McCarrick) go all the way up to Pope Francis and the Curia. We will see how credible it turns out to be, so I don’t want to presume too much. But if it is true, I will say I would not be entirely surprised, though deeply saddened.
Throughout our Church’s history, scandal and corruption have existed on numerous occasions. The evil one seeks to destroy her and scatter the flock. And yet the Church still stands. Currently we are facing an attack from deep within, one which Bishop Barron calls the worst in American Catholic Church history. Our bishops, priests, church officials - it’s hard to say where it ends. As a simple laywoman who loves the Church, I speak with just my simple knowledge and observation. So when I say I’m not surprised this is happening, it comes from my small, humble place in all this.
Having grown up in post-Vatican II, I haven’t known anything different. I know that a number of faithful Catholics were resentful for the changes, but I don’t think the hostility is towards the actual words and intent of Vatican II, but rather the communication and implementation of it. What Pope Benedict XVI called the most important and essential message of the council is "the Pascal Mystery as the center of what it is to be Christian and therefore of the Christian life, the Christian year, the Christian seasons". But that somehow seemed to be lost in translation amidst the more visible changes (like phasing out the Latin Mass). Couple that with the sexual revolution, and let the problems begin. (Disclaimer: there are many reasons the Church is experiencing the current crisis - this is just the part on my heart today.)
Someone wise (maybe my husband? maybe a Priest?) once said to me that things move slowly in the Church. There are truths we believe that had been reflected on for centuries before becoming doctrine or dogma (Immaculate Conception is the first one that comes to mind). So when a change is made, big or small, its effects will not be seen right away. And this could be what is happening right now. We are starting to uncover the dead fruit rooted in the years post-Vatican II. The formation, the catechesis, the sexual revolution, the watering down of orthodoxy.
I look at generations above mine that grew up in this era and my heart mourns for them. They were not receiving the full beauty of truth because many (not all, of course) of those who were shepherding didn’t fully believe, understand, and therefore preach the fullness of truth. This, to me, is one of the core reasons why so many people today are Catholic in name only. Why you see so many people (typically baby boomers to generation X) going to Sunday Mass, but not confession. They are aware of basic do’s and don’t’s of the faith, but truth has not taken root. Again, this is speaking very broadly - I know there are many exceptions. But I think daily Mass attendance speaks somewhat to this. In my Philly suburb, Boston, London, and even frequently in Saint Paul, daily Mass would often consist of the elderly and millennials with very few people in between.
And here we come to the part where I see God doing marvelous things. The darkness is coming to the light, and I hope ALL of it is revealed. Terrible sin has been growing and spreading for decades, allowed to live in the shadows. It’s had devastating effects on both the laity and religious. The number of practicing Catholics committed to the faith has dwindled. Bishops have all but turned their role into political lobbying (another lamentation for another day). But God has been building a response. Through all of the mess, he has given an explosion of grace that somehow took root. I see young Priests and seminarians who are on fire for their faith, who have a heart for orthodoxy and evangelization. I work with organizations like the Brotherhood of Hope and Saint Paul’s Outreach (others are also doing great things) that provide deep formation to college students preparing them to be active and leading members of the Church. I am a part of one movement (among many), led by a strong religious community, that brings together families and individuals to pursue our calls to radical holiness. I see people being fed up with the lies of our culture, seeing through watered down Catholicism, and seeking out true liturgical life in the Church.
This is why I have not lost my peace amidst all of the scandal. My heart breaks for all those personally affected by the tragedies, I certainly can’t understand their pain and I do not want to minimize it, for it is very real. But I still remain faithful to the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. I know that God will combat this evil with far more good, which will result in an abundance of incredible Saints and real fruit (that may not be seen right away). And it should start with you and me. Vatican II was about the universal call to holiness. It’s practice somehow took a different turn, at least here in the west. But things in the Church move slowly. So here we are, several decades later. Let’s answer the call and be the radical Saints of the 21st century that God wants us to be.
For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.