The Grace-Filled Response to Failures

Now that we have had some tine to assess the recent reports of scandals in the Church, including those surrounding Theodore McCarrick, the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and accounts from seminaries in Honduras and Chile, it is time to give a response.

I can only say a few words here, but I will hold a meeting with the parish on Saturday, September 1 at noon in order to discuss the matter more fully. I also encourage people to express their views in letters, whether to the bishops, the papal nuncio (ambassador) in Washington or to the Vatican. Such letters should be well thought, prayerfully written out and consider positive recommendations for the future.

Righteous anger is a fitting response on such occasions, but reason and faith should also guide our path toward the future. Responses that are based upon prayer, faith, careful thought, and positive vision like those of Church reformers (e.g., St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Pope Pius V, and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini) or for that matter, like that of the founding fathers of this country, are what lead to lasting results and a better future.

Mere anger alone (even very justified anger) without faith, prayer and reason, tend to result in more division and destruction, as was the case with the French and Russian revolutions. Regarding specifics, I would say five things now.

First, as Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops pointed out, there should be a thorough independent investigation surrounding the rise of McCarrick and the condition of some seminaries here and around the world, along with the removal of those officials who have been very negligent.

Second, as Cardinal DiNardo also recommended, there should be a publically accountable, independent process for investigating allegations against bishops and Church officials in the future.

Third, a thorough investigation is needed, not only to discover who is to blame, but also to acquit those who are innocent and to outline positively how the truth did come out, including the courage of people who recounted their experiences and the investigation that was rightfully launched by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Fourth, for all of the troubles, we should remember that the vast majority of seminarians, seminary faculty, and clergy are trying to be prayerful, faithful and hardworking in serving the Church. I would note, for example, that my own experience at Mount Saint Mary Seminary and the North American College was very positive.

While there were disagreements over policy, the faculty were doing their best for the Church and the seminarians were generally highly qualified and devout. And fifth, as God has guided His Church through so many troubles (internal and external) in the past, so He will guide us still into the future.