The cruelty of this world never ceases to amaze me. However, as I get older, I find that I cannot adjust quite as quickly to people’s cruelty and to all the threats “out there”. “Mike, what in the world are you talking about?!” Well, I’ll tell you.
I, like so many others, have been quite agitated over the reports of sexual abuse being released from Pennsylvania. I, like so many people, feel that what has happened to so many children is a crime. I, like so many people, would love to see a lifting of the statutes of limitations for crimes against children. However, something has been disturbing me about this, probably more than other people, because I “wear the collar”.
The media is in a feeding frenzy over all of the “news”. But, the “news” is not news. It is “olds”. The reports are all from things that have happened around the year 2000. 18 years ago. That might not sound like much to you; but, to those of us in the know, that was all “pre-Dallas charter”. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in 2002, established a set of policies regarding the sexual abuse of children.
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a comprehensive set of procedures originally established by the USCCB in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse. It was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.
The Charter directs action in all the following matters:
- Creating a safe environment for children and young people;
- Healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors;
- Making prompt and effective response to allegations;
- Cooperating with civil authorities;
- Disciplining offenders;
- Providing for means of accountability for the future to ensure the problem continues to be effectively dealt with through the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board.
We have been dealing with and making all sorts of headway in dealing with the awful abuse that was perpetrated against children. Please do not get me wrong. I am not trying to minimize anything. I’m not saying that no one has been hurt. However, in “reporting” the way the media is right now, they are stirring people into a frenzy. Priests are, once again, being targeted for all sorts of awful hate speech by strangers. Priests are also being targeted for more than hate speech as well.
Yesterday morning, at St. Michael Byzantine Church in Merrillville, a priest was attacked in the sacristy after Mass. The priest — who is not under suspicion and has never been under suspicion but was rather a random target — was thrown to the floor and choked to unconsciousness while a deranged man was shouting that the attack was “for all the children” that priests have abused.
Can you imagine how that makes so many priests — who have never thought about abusing children let alone touching them — feel? I’m just sick to my stomach. We have received communication from our bishop today to watch out for ourselves and be aware of our environment.
How much more crazy can our world become? I don’t know. But it concerns me. It concerns me that so many people are suspicious of the Church in general. It concerns me because priests — as well as bishops and cardinals — have given them reason to be concerned. It alarms me greatly that many of the leaders of the Church ignored the abuse by their priests or were abusers themselves. It makes me think about what my life would have been like if I went to college to study music as I had first planned or taken that offer to play in the Navy band for a full ride through college.
I love the priesthood. I love my Church. But I, like so many others, are wondering what the future holds. I ask you to join me in praying for victims of sexual abuse. I ask you to join me in praying that we may cleanse the Church of those who have perpetrated abuse against children and/or allowed it to continue. I ask you to join me in praying for those who say their faith is shattered, that they may pick up the pieces of their faith and be comforted by the Lord Jesus who founded His Church upon sinners so that sinners could change and be redeemed.
And, if you have any prayers left, would you kindly say one for me? Because, I believe I am becoming truly depressed over all of this.