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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Our Posture in the Face of Scandal

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The issue of sexual abuse by clergy is a topic that pains us all very deeply, including good priests. We take very seriously our role as spiritual fathers to the children of God. Clergy suffer much guilt by association and while we lament the growing distance and hurdles to privacy between ourselves and those whom we serve, we realize that it is necessary if we are to protect the youth from possible predators in our ranks. As a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, I feel a particular shame that our former archbishop McCarrick could live a duplicitous life of depravity while being hailed as an important and holy churchman. Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas reported to the Catholic News Service last month that he asked the Holy Father why the files of the McCarrick case were still sealed:  “I said these allegations about McCarrick need to be investigated, and they have been, and the report, according to Pope Francis yesterday will be published.

While we certainly want transparency in how such matters are investigated to insure both compassion to victims and justice, it must be admitted that bishops are in a precarious situation. Given the “corporate sole” status of a diocese, each ordinary is both entrusted with the ecclesial resources of God’s people and is the most liable target for litigation. Often the innocent in the pews pay for the sins of priests. Good bishops try to protect vulnerable persons, bring healing to the betrayed and wounded, safeguard the resources of the larger faith community (which is also innocent) and preserve the reputation of Christ’s Church. While episcopal apologies might not suffice they are necessary in the process of healing for those wronged and others who are disappointed.

EWTN and other credible news sources have all reported that McCarrick’s sexual abuse of seminarians was supposedly known to bishops going back to the 1990’s. Here I would agree with the voices demanding answers about how such a man could rise to power. This is not a matter of calumny or gossip but something that must be made known if it is to be prevented from happening again. Was it because of the large amounts of money he raised? Was it because he was the darling of liberal politicians? Was there a homosexual network that protected and promoted its own? All this is very scandalous and the Church needs to be forthcoming with answers. God’s people must be assured that those who were involved are no longer pulling the strings. The weight of moral culpability is raised several notches with the charges of abused minors. The allegations of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò would imply a string of dark associations that trouble the soul but which remain the province of the Church to investigate and to share with God’s people. More heads might roll but the old proverb is true, “the truth will set you free.”

Remain faithful to the Catholic Church.  Pray for the victims and for good priests.  If we trust the Lord then we will weather this storm.