Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Couple Of Reflections

The political advertising we’ve been subjected to will be done by day’s end, at least for another election cycle.

In my opinion, that is good news. I say that because it seems to me whenever an election cycle picks up (the next one will start probably by early summer of 2011 and continue until the 2012 election is done) it feels like the never-ending back-biding and mudslinging ends up resulting in a concussion for those of us subjected to it. And I am waiting patiently for my ears to stop ringing.

This time around it seems to have been particularly vicious. The Democrats weren’t as successful as they expected to be. And that action sort of rippled throughout the entire system. What I mean by that is that not only did much of what was and was not accomplished in the past 2 years get highlighted at a national level but also at a relatively local one. That seems to be the case here as we’ve got multiple races for Congressional seats as well as the Governor’s race going on, and all of them have proven to be rather contentious.

I will be heading out a little later to cast my vote for the various candidates that are running this time around. To be totally honest, I’m not satisfied with any of them. Probably the only candidate that I think is worth anything (and I truly hope I’m right) is Kelly Ayotte, the former New Hampshire Attorney General who is running for Senate against the former representative Paul Hodes. As for the others, I’m really not impressed.

Now for something completely different.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, and a lot of praying, about the various things that are going on under the auspices of the Catholic Church. Two things have totally jumped out at me and caused me a great deal of personal stress. Specifically, I’m referring to the Church’s pro-life stance and its inability to deal with child sexual abuse.

My issue is not with the Church’s position on abortion. My issue is with the Church’s inability to reconcile its stance on life (which is the gist of its stance on abortion) and its seeming inability or unwillingness to act more decisively in the arena of sexual abuse of children by priests.

Understand that I know a number of priests who I believe are good, decent individuals who make the effort to lead and shepherd and protect. I also know that there have been and still are priests out there who hurt kids. It isn’t limited to Catholic priests; clergy from other Christian faiths have also been proven to abuse as well, but because the Boston Globe brought what happened in the Archdiocese of Boston to light (back in 2002), Catholic clergy has had a spotlight shone on them from the very beginning.

If you research all that has been exposed since then, there has been a lot of back-and-forth about what has caused this. And a lot of differing opinions are present as to not just causes but also ways to work towards resolving the issue as it pertains to priests that have been caught and are being dealt with in the criminal justice system.

Probably the biggest source of silence has been the Church itself, or more accurately, the hierarchy. While there has been numerous apologies issued – many by the Pope himself – there has not been any real action taken to address the issue. I get the impression that, even now, the hierarchy would like to see it all just disappear. Realistically, that is not going to happen, and it shouldn’t. What really needs to happen is that the problems of the past simply need to be fixed; it’s important to do this before any thought is given to handling the future, and from what I’ve observed the past hasn’t even been considered.

There are a number of things that have to happen. Most notably, clergy that have been accused need to have justice served on them in the fairest and speediest manner. Bishops need to not continue to be protecting those priests who have been accused. And while the criminal justice system says “innocent until proven guilty”, the accused still need to be handled in an open and appropriate fashion – not in secret, like it has been. Mostly, the victims need to be protected, supported, and not left to be treated like they were in some way perpetrators themselves.

From what I’ve said, one would think that nothing has changed over the past 10 years since the issue was brought to light. That isn’t true; there have been changes in many places. But so much more still needs to be done, not the least of which is for leadership at the highest levels to truly take responsibility and do the right thing.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6, NAB). Certainly those who make so much noise about the unborn who use this verse to illustrate their concern could use it for victims of abuse. But do they believe it? Or is there hypocrisy present? I don’t know the answer to either question, but I can’t do anything about what I see. And I don’t like it.

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