Religion has been in the news over the last several years, and it seems more so than ever before. The mass shootings, terrorism, and destruction of houses of worship - churches, synagogues, mosques have all come under fire, one way or another.
Religious liberty in America and throughout the known world is constantly being threatened and subjected to abuse and adherents maimed or killed. Physical violence, however, is not the only form of expression of an intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage to a religious institution.
Although this is a separate and distinct issue, it involves a religious body and a crisis that only seems to fester, and remains in the minds of her detractors as a harbinger of hopefully what could be its demise.
In a recent pastoral letter to the faithful and media in the diocese of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in an act of transparency, listed the names of 120 priests, most of whom are deceased, and whose abuse allegations date back 30 to 40 years.
Since 2002 the Catholic Church, with the bishop’s imprimatur, has made tremendous strides in dealing with the abuse scandals.
> The 2002 Bishops Charter on the Protection of Children and Young People
> The John Jay College of Criminal Justice independent analysis
> Zero tolerance policy
> The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program
The Church, it would appear, is the sole institution, among both private and public, in America that has taken such painstaking measures, and yet her detractors are never satisfied and never will be, even though it is a well-established fact that most sexual abuse occurs in public schools and institutions. This is not to suggest the Churches' transgressions and in this case, her lack of transparency and sin of negligence in confronting priestly abuse of children go unpunished. Such egregious acts must be dealt with to the fullest extent of both canon and social law.
But the almost daily drumbeat of negative accusations and allegations in the mainstream media, the liberal establishment and the various so-called victim's groups, some with a political and social agenda, goes on unabated. Even the cardinal’s significant and courageous efforts to rectify the abuse crisis are deemed unworthy, insufficient, and merely a facade to keep hidden the Church's “deep held secrets.” As for the Church's earthly mission to help the poor and oppressed, propagating the message of the Gospel, and its time-honored work in education and medical services, seem to have little, if any, effect and usually goes unappreciated; forbearance is not in the lexicon of the irreverent.
With this entirely in mind, I would suggest that the cardinal and other church leaders refrain from any further public acts of contrition and transparency in hopes of forgiveness and redemption, for it will not be forthcoming. This latest release of 120 names of priests means little; it will only exacerbate the issue and give the Church's enemies, who seek to undermine and suppress her spiritual influence among the faithful, and society in general, the opportunity to inject into the discourse their deceitful and sanctimonious rhetoric.
The Church should keep up its vital work to create a safe and wholesome climate for the young in her institutions, and continue to make amends to the victims of abuse, but we are engaged in a culture war for the heart and soul of the nation. As long as the Catholic Church remains steadfast, and continues its teachings and positions, in particular, on abortion and traditional marriage, she will remain a spiritual bulwark, but will never be forgiven and accepted in this post-modern secular culture.