Catholics the world over have been caught up with the sex abuse scandal that has hit the Catholic Church. Many have also been numbed by the shark-eating frenzy of many media outlets to weave Pope Benedict XVI into it. Calls for his arrest have left many of the faithful distraught.
As I have stated in my post below (Catholic Answer to the NYT Sex Abuse), it is becoming apparent the sex abuse scandal have presented enemies of the Church an pportunity to libel the rank and file of Catholics, chiefly the Holy Father. Truth has been abandoned and they have no scruples in using false evidence to achieve their goal, even if it means making a pact with the devil.
So, there is an urgent need for Catholics, and other men and women of good will, to separate fact from fiction contained in the press, television, radio and the Internet by unscrupulous journalists and make sense of what is actually true.
But in order to answer critics who question the Catholic faith and our loyalty to Church and Pope, we must first have a grasp of who we are and our history of more than 2,000 years. To begin, the Catholic Church is the only one founded by God Himself -- Jesus Christ the Second Person in the Holy Trinity. The Church, the Bride of Christ, is certainly Holy, but not perfect and throughout history has suffered from within other scandals and controversies, no less painful from varying degrees of severity.
The current one is not the first. Neither will it be the last. But one thing has been, is and will always be certain: Christ promised His Church the protection of the Holy Spirit from the errors of sinful men and that nothing evil in their hearts will be able to lead the Her (the Catholic Church) astray in what She teaches and proposes to be true for the salvation of the human race. A detailed check into the dark periods of Church history will prove this correct, nothing false has been taught by Her during those times.
I would now like to share with you something from Dr Alan Schreck’s The Compact History of the Catholic Church. It is pretty relevant for the Catholic Church in the present crisis that has visited us all.
The fulfillment of Jesus’ work of preparing His bride, the Church, for Himself is described in the Book of Revelation. Christ the Lamb of God, weds His bride, the Church, at the end of time: “‘ … the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure’ -- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Rev 19:7-8).
This is what God is doing in human history. He is forming a people, a bride for His Son Jesus Christ, and purifying the Church so it will be ready when Christ comes again in glory. We know that this work of purification is not yet complete. Although we can see “the righteous deeds of the saints”, we also know that there is still sin in the Church, for Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Luke 5:32). Yet in spite of the evident sin and weakness in the Church, Christ still loves it enough to die on the cross for His people, the Church.
It is evident that the history of the Church is marked by both sin and weakness as well as by the grace and protection of God. This is because the Church is not only a divine reality but also human, like Jesus himself. Unlike Jesus, however, the Church is not totally free from sin, but is in the process in each age of being freed from sin and being conformed to the image of Jesus, the Head of the Church. The Gospels are full of stories of sinners being redeemed -- prostitutes, the self-righteous, and even apostles like Peter. All of them needed mercy and forgiveness. What is true in the Gospels is true in the Church throughout history.
In spite of the sin in the Church today and in history, Christians are called not to criticize or to sit in judgment over the Church but to love the Church as Jesus does. We, as members of the Church, are sinners ourselves. Yet Jesus loves us enough to die for us to free us from our sin and weakness. The same is true of the Church as a whole. Despite its sinfulness, Christ loves the Church and looks upon it as His beloved Bride. God is at work to purify and renew His people, His Church. Each of us should say, with Cardinal Suenens, “I love the Church, wrinkles and all!” We love the Church in spite of imperfections, because Jesus Christ loves it and died to redeem His people.
So will the attack on Pope Benedict XVI and the Church from the anti-religious establishment go away any time soon?
First, let’s not forget the sex offences by priests on children are abhorrent and diabolical. The guilty will face the justice of God on Judgment Day, but the victims need our continued help and prayers for healing. We cannot ignore that wrongdoing of the worst kind has been perpetrated by those who were supposed to be ministers of God and trusted by us.
But the truth is, the sex abuses are the kind of opportunity the Church enemies are always on the lookout for and they are going to milk every drop for as long as they can. This is because the Catholic Church is universally seen as the epitome of religion, and rightly so, and is a prized target.
What makes the Church even more so is because our present shepherd, Pope Benedict XVI, has not been afraid to expose scourges committed by men who out to destroy the human family and its moral values -- Islamic terrorism, misconceptions that condoms can stop the spread of Aids, the killing of innocent children through abortion, and homosexual unions and practices that disobey natural law and threaten the very existence of mankind. Because of his efforts to speak forcefully of these issues and what is true, the Pope has, since the beginning of his pontificate, been collecting enemies like a hobby.
The fact that Pope Benedict XVI is a sharp intellect makes him an even dangerous enemy to those who hate religion and the Catholic Church.
The current attacks on him and the Church are certainly disconcerting to Catholics worldwide, but this is exactly what key protagonists leading the charge, chiefly the so-called human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, and anti-Catholic and anti-religion atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, desire: That we question our allegiance to Pope and Church.
These trio are not frivolous men and know very well their call for the Pope’s arrest is at best flimsy. Their intention is, therefore, clearly to prolong the confusion among Catholics, especially those vulnerable to leave the Church, and has nothing to do with justice for victims of the sex abuse.
So, as Catholics, we can let all the badly research articles -- and many are done on purpose -- affect us OR we can have faith the Holy Spirit is with the Church (that is us), and deceitful men will in the end be shown up for all of their ill-intentions and designs. We must never let such menace cause us to fall into despair of the True Faith and our baptismal allegiance to Her.