Sunday, April 4, 2010

Of sausage and membership in the Church

I have heard about the Year of the Priest all this past year. But when the Bishop talked about it at the Chrism Mass in Holy Week, it hit me in a whole different way. What a time for the Year of the Priest! Right now you can take that phrase a few different ways - the year to remember the incredible abuses by priests..... the year to rally behind the priesthood itself ....... the year to point out that so many priests are and have been faithful to their ministry.

It is Easter Sunday today. The news of the past several months has focused on the scandal of abuse, but even more on the real scandal, that of cover-ups, moves, spin-doctoring, and denial. This past week the emphasis has been on what Church leaders have been saying. Some incredible gaffes are still happening, but today I detect a bit of a shift. Bishops around the world - Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Canada, the U.S. - are showing that they get it. Obfuscation is no longer the order of the day with those men. Honesty, admission, naming the problem, is now the order of the day. And the name of the problem, the one the world has really keyed in on, is not the abuse, as bad as that is. It is the lying and cover ups and denial. Hopefully, there is a tide sweeping through the Church that will continue the theme. Some clergy may feel like they are beating this to death, or that they are getting beat to death. Far from it, they are showing the world what it wanted to see from the beginning. Keep going until the world says it is satisfied.

In the meantime, the Church will survive. There are several terrific articles to that effect. The latest is in today's (April 4, 2010)Toronto Star, by Angelo Persichilli, 'Resilient church will overcome latest scandal.' Yesterday's Toronto Star had a great feature on Southdown, the treatment facility for clergy, located north of Toronto. The article contains really useful information that puts the problem of abuse in some perspective.

Long before the abuse scandal, I had this phrase that I would say to people (It's been so long, I don't know whether I was quoting someone, or made it up on my own): Being up close to Holy Mother Church is like watching sausage being made: you will never eat it again, unless you can live with messiness. The messiness I was initially referring to was the spectrum of personality quirks, politics, spirits of meanness, etc, that I had occasionally encountered in Church leaders. None of which shook my faith for even a moment. Messiness is the order of the day. If it weren't, the Cross and Resurrection - what we are celebrating right now - would have been useless jokes. They aren't jokes, they are needed very badly. What a great reminder all of this is. May its lesson not be lost. We need a purifying in the Church, we need transparency. And we need to be reminded that it is still the place to be. Jesus has not and will not withdraw his promise to us, to be the way, the truth, and the life. We've been acting as though we forgot that. Today is a day tinged by sadness for the victims of abuse, but it is also a day to remember that the Resurrection was for them too. Keep hope alive. Peace to all.

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