The Innocents

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will He harbor His anger forever;
He does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is His love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

My wife, Kathryn, returned from her day-long, business trip to West Palm Beach last night, Monday. Sunday previously, she had just returned from a four-day, business trip to Dallas. She loves her work. She is dedicated. Her immutable allegiance to what she “ought’ to do is immeasurable. She has the same dedication to her Lord, Jesus Christ, and her ministry work in the Catholic Church.

Last night, I filled her in on the latest, rising scandal in the Church; the assertion that Pope Francis was well aware of the horrific, disgusting behavior of Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick since at least 2013, and that Francis choose to protect and promote Cardinal McCarrick within the Church during that time to near-present. They (meaning a very unusual collection of individuals and groups) want the Pope’s head on a platter.  

Kathryn is no simpleton; not deaf, not blind. The news blaring in her ears since we both came into the Catholic Church in 2013, has been one of a constant expose of the worst behaviors that God could possibly imagine from any human, let alone His self-proclaimed, apostolic shepherds. If one considered not the circumstances, one would believe these adherents to the Catholic faith are absolutely of no difference than any other person or group in human history.

Statistically, this is truth. The sad truth of it is that all of the doctrines, all of the sacraments, all of the devotions, and all of the liturgies do absolutely nothing to stem the tide of rampant sin that pours from the very clergy that has taken solemn vows to uphold the truths of the Catholic faith, and to be good shepherds. If you believe our clergy to be sinless, or at least innocent of these recently-revealed crimes, then forget them at your own peril.  They’re still guilty, and of something just as bedeviled: clericalism, and clericalism is all about power, and power cares nothing for those under its thumb, unless, of course, it benefits power.

This is what has brought our Church to the brink of open civil war; and it’s a war of many sides. As each corrupt clique within the Church seeks to increase its power, while maintaining what it has greedily gathered about itself, there comes the inevitable clash of the ideologies between competing cliques. What happens within the administration of the Catholic Church is no different than any secular, political, or economic assembly. What makes it repugnant to the Catholic layperson and to everyone else is the fact that the very purpose – its structure and dogma – of this organization is one meant to combat the very inclinations to power itself, and yet, once again statistically, there is no difference in the level of corruption within the Catholic Church as without. The argument, therefore, is a simple one; that there is no reason for the Church to exist at all, unless one considers it justified since all other corruptions of humanity are blessed with their own continuance. Instead, let’s keep our money and go to the movies. At least there we know it’s but a facsimile of real life.

I challenge anyone to pay close attention to this current, ascending, slanderous, accusatory, defaming and degrading circus of words, and attempt to carefully determine the number of factions and rivalries in this episode of the life of the Church. Just as a circus has its Big Tent, and within are a multitude of spectacles and performers, so to the Church has its Vatican; a bazaar (perhaps best spelled bizarre) of poisonous delights.

That’s how I feel about this all. Kathryn has a different take. She will continue her ministry work in her parish.  She will attend Mass weekly. She will read her bible and devotionals daily, and she will forever remain a constant in the life of Christ and His teachings. Kathryn understands Psalm 103, perhaps better than I do, for she is capable of putting those words squarely into her practice as a disciple of Christ. Kathryn practices what she preaches.

I know Psalm 103, to be the truth when it comes to God’s covenant with us; His commitment, and His love. Unfortunately, I see it all one-sided, and I fail in the last phrase. While Kathryn believes that God will forever shed His grace upon each in His flock, take away his or her transgressions, and thus enable one for redemption and communion with all, I cannot but measure the damage that has been done to God’s Church by many of those in the most trusted of positions in His Church.

I guess this places me within the camp of one of those sides in the growing civil war within the Catholic Church. I too will continue my ministry work in my parish; unfortunately, only as long as there is a timely resolution to this criminal morass that, at least, gives the appearance of swamp-draining. Considering all of the innocent lives lost due to this intractable, systemic and wicked cancer – clericalism – I would have to confess that I have little regard of any innocent, clerical lives lost in this war; just as long as we get the guilty.

I take no pleasure in ignoring what God calls me to; sanctification, which in turn calls me to conceiving and practicing that all men and women are holy and due their dignity. You see, I am essentially a victim to clericalism as most of us are to one degree or another, as its abusive nature has sufficiently tempted me into my own sin. I’m a reluctant soldier. I need not feel sorrow for myself having done so. Rather, my attention is focused more upon the innocents, the refugees, and the martyrs. That’s with whom my Kathryn stands. However, she’ll pay a small price in this approaching war for the simple reason that, while the Church looms large in her practice of Christianity, it is the Christ that fills her vision of faith and causes her right foot to fall in front of her left, and her left in front of her right. That’s the finest testament to the teachings and love of Jesus Christ that I know. I need prayers more than she.

God Calls Us All Into His Service – Reese





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