Home' Aurora : Aurora August 2014 Contents 20
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
Regular writer Michael O'Connor reflects on
the decision to remain faithful to the Catholic
Church, in spite of all.
Several times lately I have seen ar ticles
titled, 'Why I am still a Catholic'. I have
r ead them with interest, and found reasons
that str uck a chord.
I have also read, 'Why I am no longer a
Catholic', and found reasons that struck
a chord !
They have usually been written against the
backdrop of the ter rible scandals of sexual
abuse and cover-ups, and in response to
the incredulous question, 'Who, in their
right mind, would be a Catholic today? '
I have asked myself why I am a Catholic.
The answer comes readily, but does not
seem to come so readily to others. I seem
to have only a little difficulty -- whereas
others have almost insuper able difficulty
-- differentiating between the baby and
"Don't throw out the baby with the
bathwater" is one of those pithy proverbs
which can provide stark clarity. Don't
discard something valuable, or even
essential, in your eagerness to get rid of
something wor thless, undesir able, or even
har mful. Over-eagerness or blindness can
have appalling unforeseen consequences.
The baby is beautiful and precious. It
may not even be seen if the water is
For me , in ter ms of the Church, the baby
is good and beautiful -- the scriptures ,
the sacr aments, the Eucharist; the core
teachings and practices that truly embody
love of God and neighbour; liturgy and
prayer; love and sanctity found in so
many ordinary lives. All of these I have no
trouble attributing to God.
The foulness attached to the baby is
from our own polluting. We humans are
good polluter s. We can allow ourselves
to accept that wrong is right, that lies are
truth, that self indulgen ce is love that we
-- whoever w
than other s, t
essentials . It h
and it happen
me, is our do
(the Mass) is
me a great gi
from God. T
way it is cond
I would not d
the trea sure
way it is packaged.
too, I value as a great gift from God. But
I don't admire all priests. I am appalled
by the abuse by some and the cover-up
by others . This is the antithesis of loving
pastoral ministry. Priesthood is baby.
Abuse and cover-up -- and clericalism -- are
bathwater to be dealt with appropriately.
Of ten it is hard to retain the good
while discarding the evil. It is especially
the case when someone ha s brought
destr uction and suffering into our lives .
How difficult it is to distinguish between
who a person is and what they have done.
For instance, how essential it is to love
u nde r gone an abortion
p the baby
This can be done
out of fear that
rejecting the behaviour is tantamount to
rejecting the per son. Clearly delineating
between the goodness of a person and
the evil of their behaviour s is a balancing
act requiring clear, nuanced thinking and
I spent over thir ty year s with the
Depar tment of Community Ser vices
investigating neglect and abuse of children.
It wa s always har rowing. I wa s close to
children immer sed in filthy situations;
figur atively, sometimes literally. In the early
days, nothing r aised my spirits mor e than
coming home to our three children, and
especially bathing them. It grounded me.
After washing off the grime of their busy,
grotty days I would see it r ush and gurgle
down the plughole. I would towel them
dry and enjoy the look and smell of their
clean bodies. But I didn't love them more
than when they were dir ty. When they
were dir ty, my love wanted to clean them.
Likewise, I think, for all who love the
Church. We have as little love for the
horrors that attach to her body as we
have for the grime and vomit, the faeces
and urine, that are washed from the baby's
body to become bathwater flushed away.
But we love the body that needs cleaning,
and are glad for the cleansing water that
becomes discarded bathwater.
Enquiries, Royal Commissions, media
scr utiny and so on, ar e par ticularly
turbulent waters r emoving the grime from
the treasured Church body. We should
be glad for the bath and the discarding of
But then, ongoing bathing is a necessity for
all our little treasures .
THE BABY AND
lf-indulgence is love, t ha t we
we are -- are more impor tant
that unimportant things are
happens throughout humanity,
ns in the Church where it
ould not happen. This, for
oing, not God's.
to discer n and retain and
s a great
someone who has undergone an
It is an easier p
many readily t
in the ba
MARGARET WALKER A POPE APOLOGISES
Pope Fr ancis recently celebr ated Mass for
victims of sexual abuse. In his homily, he
made a two-fold apology. After wards, he
met with each of the six victims privately,
heard their story and responded to their
questions and concer ns. The victims came
from Ireland, Britain and Germany.
Although he has spoken on this impor tant
issue in the pa st, Pope Fr ancis' apology has
been the strongest message yet outlining
his "deep pain and suffering" arising from
religious and clergy who have "betrayed
their mission" and "abused innocent
per sons". He recognised the immense
"emotional and spiritual pain" suffered by
victims and the effect these events have
had on their families and relationships. He
also expressed "hear tfelt love and sor row"
to families who have had to cope with
the death by suicide of an abused loved
one. He said that this weighed on "my
conscience and that of the whole Church".
In the first part of the apology, Pope
Francis expressed, "sor row for the sins and
gr ave crimes of clerical sexual abuse" and
said, "I beg your forgiveness for the sins of
omission", recognising that this failure by
Church leaders to respond adequately to
r epor ts of abuse led to fur ther suffering
and endangered other young people. Both
he and the Church "want to weep" for the
hur t suffered by victims. He acknowledged
the cour age shown by victims in speaking
out and telling the tr uth. Pope Fr ancis
stated, "bishops must carry out their
pastoral ministry...and they will be held
accountable". He recognised the need to
"develop better policies and procedur es...
for the protection of minor s" and that
Church per sonnel need to be trained to
implement the same. Finally, he asked, as
he has in the past, for people to pray for
him, so that he would have the "cour age
to persevere on this path for the good of
all children and young people".
His apology has had mixed reactions from
the public, abuse suppor t groups and
those within the Church. Some say it has
taken too long for this acknowledgement
to come, some complain that no victims at
the Mass were from his home countr y of
Argentina and others claim it was a public
relations stunt. Suppor t groups say that
while his apology is welcome, words are
not enough and express the need for it to
be backed up with real action which leads
to real refor m within the Church.
The Pope has an agenda for refor m with
changes being driven by a special Vatican
Commission and he intends to expand the
member ship of the Pontifical Commission
for the Protection of Minor s to include
representatives from Asia and Africa
before the next meeting in October. This
apology is not intended as a final step
in the process of addressing the issues
sur rounding clerical abuse. It is a means
of opening fur ther avenues for discussion,
continuing this impor tant conver sation and
seeking initial steps in reconciling victims
and the Church.
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