Cardinal OMalley to the Rescue

The Pope’s itinerary did not include Boston, the center of the clerical sex abuse crisis, so Boston came to the Pope. In a private meeting at the nunciature, Pope Benedict XVI met with half a dozen victims of clerical sex abuse, prayed with them, and Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, gave the pontiff a book containing the names of some 1,000 victims. In addition, the Pope addressed the issue during his press conference on the plane from Rome, in his meeting with the American bishops, and during his homily at yesterday’s Mass here in Washington. But, it was the face-to-face meeting that stands out. According to an official who was involved in arranging the meeting, strenuous objections were raised to such a meeting. Curial opposition was fierce. Only a direct appeal from Cardinal O’Malley made the meeting happen. What the Pope understood, perhaps better than his aides, was that while there is no way for one meeting to off-set all the pain and suffering the sex abuse victims have endured, the physicality of the evil had to be matched by the physicality of forgiveness. Abstract theories about pedophilia, about the demands of justice, about Episcopal responsibility needed to be set aside. Years ago, these victims had met their clergy and been violated. Here they met with their Pope and they were embraced in holiness, prayer, and love. When we see the Pope, what do we see? We see the physical presence of Peter, Jesus’ best friend when he walked upon the earth. Indeed, when we look to history and consider different popes, when we say that this pope was a good one, or that pope was a bad one, the criterion we employ is this simple: did a given pope show himself to be a friend of Jesus? Yesterday, Pope Benedict showed himself to be a friend of Jesus. We Catholics live a fleshly faith. We like the smell of incense. Our sacraments consist in the admixture of God’s grace and nature’s most basic elements: bread, wine, water, oil. The Pope is the human face of Peter in our midst. This is why the violation of the flesh was even more revolting than other instances of sexual abuse. When priests abused a minor, the victim was violated but so was the Church. The Church in America is not yet ready to say with the dying cleric in George Bernanos’ Diary of a Country Priest: "What does it matter. Grace is everywhere." The abuse scandal still matters. But, yesterday, in the most vital, literal and physical instance of his Petrine ministry, Benedict ensured that grace was abundant at the nunciature in Washington. Michael Sean Winters
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10 years ago
An excellent analysis IMO. I'm bothered that "[c]urial opposition was fierce," but what powerful imagery there is the comment that "the physicality of the evil had to be matched by the physicality of forgiveness."
10 years ago
Full Disclosure: I am a 55 year old grandfather, a former seminarian, a former Catholic, a physical and sexual abuse victim at the hands of NUNS as a grammar school, high school student and sexual intimidation victim by a nun as a seminarian. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to feel. I don't know what to think. I have no opinion or feelings or even insight on this matter. All I can say is this. I feel empty on the matter.
10 years ago
Courage in leadership marks this Pope as a true shepherd. From his passionate remarks about the abuse scandal on the plane en route to the States to his encouraging exhortation in Yankee stadium to be steadfast in the Faith, Benedict XVI has planted his feet on the ground and his hands on his hips with a loving Christian stare of a prayerful caring human being ready to take on the world. The Holy Spirit reigns!!
10 years ago
The sexual abuse of a boy or girl by a trusted minister, rabbi or priest is indeed "Murder of the Soul," as Cardinal William Keller said early on when the ongoing problem of sexual abusive priests become widely known with the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize winning series. Sexual abuse problems of minor boys and girls, young men and women, women religious particularly in missionary countries, and vulnerable adults has been a serious problem since the earliest days of the church. However, the orchestrated cover-up of the past fifty to sixty years is beyond the pale. The pain that so many victims of sexual abuse continue to endure throughout their lives is the pain that our Catholic Church should be considering first and foremost before the "enormous pain that your communities have suffered when clerics have betrayed their priestly obligations and duties by such gravely immoral behavior," as the pope spoke of in his words to the American bishops on Wednesday when he met with them at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The continuing sex scandal was not just "sometimes very badly handled," it was very often and repeatedly handled very badly. The fact remains that removing Statutes of Limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children, along with the inclusion of a Legislative Window of at least two years for bringing forward previously time barred cases of childhood sexual abuse, remains the single most effective means of holding sexual predators and any enabling individuals or institutions accountable. In the State of Delaware we have accomplished this by the passage of the new Child Victims Law which includes a Window that is open until July 10, 2009 for bringing forward cases in the pursuit of justice. Visit - www.bishopaccountability.org www.napsac.us www.reform-network.net www.votfgp.org www.childvictimsvoice.org www.richardsipe.com SMPTURLISH

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