CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 July 2019

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Making sense of the scandals in the Church today - Pt 2

A time to hold fast to Christ, our Lord, and to the Church, his bride 
 
 
A call to flow from the centre
Abusive (sexual and non-sexual) behaviour by priests and religious is prone to happen when they act from a zone of life far from their true self of compassion and love. Arrogance and pride inhabit this zone with the fumes of anger and aggressiveness. Any human passion such as anger, jealousy, sexual desires, may snowball into abusive behaviours without the guidance of the inner radar of the true self. 
 
The first condition for any authentic religious is to enter into the inner sanctuary, discover the living Christ there, and flow from that centre. In humility, one needs to descend from a rope-walking ego trip to the ground of reality to play a role in the orchestra of love and life directed by the Holy Spirit. 
 
Life in Christ is supremely beautiful, tremendously liberating, and incredibly compassionate to fellow humans. Without Christ at the centre, sexuality and carnality, and eros and Thanatos perform a seductive angelic dance wearing a spiritual mask. Some fall for bewitching performances.
 
With all the mud thrown at the Church in our times, I love the Church for who she is in the world. When channels discuss the sex life of priests and nuns, many of the priests and nuns are in the field with the victims of the flood disaster, with the orphans and with those who need a word of consolation.
 
When politicians, who discuss poverty on high tech platforms go to those peripheries where you meet the poor, you will find a catholic nun or a missionary living and working among them. 
 
I love the Church who breeds this brand of children. 
 
Following Jesus of the gospels
How would Jesus act towards his failing disciples of today? While condemning their sins, he would invite them to repentance and welcome them into his embrace. He would not allow them to hurt any of his little ones anymore saying “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). 
 
We need this compassionate gaze of the Father to see the image of God in McCarrick and Vigano who represent the prodigal son and his elder brother in the parable of the prodigal Father (prodigal son). McCarrick is not able to hurt anybody now, but Vigano is able to hurt by his commitment to unveil “truth” to save the Church.
 
Both of them need our prayers.
 
Bishop Franco and the nun are both in need of our compassion and prayers. The law of the nation should run its course without interference from within or from outside the Church pro or contra, to any party.  If proved innocent, he needs the grace to radiate the light of love and life to welcome the nun to glimpse her own authentic core. 
 
The Church has a long list of innocents crucified and they usually emerge from the ordeal with the radiance of the risen Lord. Repentance and renewal is the only way back to the Lord for the sins committed. In case of false allegations induced by the desire for vengeance, the nun needs the grace to see the depth of the pit of venom into which she has fallen. 
 
Some ex-nuns and ex-priests came to narrate their publicised private stories of suffering and abuse in the hands of their sisters and from the clergy. On the positive side, they help to break the culture of silence on abusive behaviours and create awareness on possible misbehaviour on the part of authorities. 
 
In many instances, while they were presuming to bring the secret life of convents into public light, what was torn open to the public eye was their own inner world and the fury in their own hearts which no convent or sanctuary could hold for long without being transformed by the healing touch of the Lord. It still smells of the poison of vengeance in the arrow of their declared good intentions. 
 
We should embrace these sisters and brothers to find healing in the mystical body of Christ so that their emotional wounds do not fester and smell, but rather transform them into healed healers. 
 
Perhaps, it is harder to forgive and see the positive in the way the hostile media used the occasion to tarnish the Church. I have a hard time coming to terms with a situation in my country where concern for truth and facts have no value in the public debate, and skewed opinions are declared as facts. 
 
I begin to see the call to give up the support of social respect for my choice of consecrated life and learn to cast my lot with the truth hanging naked on the cross. I learn to listen to the harsh criticism hurled on the Church, my beloved mother, with the serenity of the crucified Lord. 
 
In the Church, we need to treat hate with the loving kindness of a mother who takes care of a sick child kicking and shouting in a delirium. I have slowly begun to mumble, “Lord, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
 
What is the Lord asking me in the midst of humiliation and ridicule of the Church? 
 
 
1. Take these moments as opportunity for purification and renewal of the Church of our times;
 
2. Trust in the Lord of history who has strengthened the Church in worse situations;
 
3. Know that God’s grace surpasses all human sins and failures and even make use of them in unforeseen ways;
 
4. You know the truth and beauty of your vocation. Love it and live it to the full;
 
5. Learn to be compassionate to those who hate the Church, and pray for them;
 
6. Use the opportunities to make the truth of the Church known. For truth makes us free;
 
7. Support the life of priests and nuns and correct them in time when they tend to deviate from the path;
 
8. Implement the directives of the Church with regard to prevention of abuses in Church environments;
 
9. Listen to the criticism calmly and learn from it to improve. Honour the ray of truth in the critics and transform the dirt they throw into a growth promoting manure;
 
10. Give due place to women religious and laity in the decision-making and accountability systems in the Church to avoid clericalism and integrate social and cultic aspects to the core dimension of spiritual evolution of people.
 
 
Let us journey forward with courage in the midst of the sufferings of the Church. The Lord is the centre of the Church and our own lives. This is a wonderful period of time to walk in the Spirit with the sole purpose of following the crucified. 
 
We have the joy of the Lord which the world cannot give, and none from outside can take away. 
 
 
 
 
Mathew Vattamattam CMF
Claretian Missionary
Rome, 30 September 2018