I was reading a passage from St. Isaac the Syrian today and it triggered some memories and reflections.
One of the memories is of an encounter in the cafeteria one night with a group of rookies discussing the dangers of being police officers. They seemed bemused by a veteran officer who told them he most feared the unpredictability of domestic-violence calls.
After several of them quipped little mockeries or bold remarks from inexperience, I told them about my cousin, by then an Inspector, whose only injury to date had happened during a ‘domestic’ call when the very battered, bloodied wife he was trying to protect whacked HIM with an iron frying pan.
She was simply protecting her husband, even though he had assaulted her moments before.
The other memory is of listening to the anxious heart of a young priest last time I was in New York. Because of the climate of fear resulting from the abuse scandal and other sins within the Church this young priest was afraid to be near children, afraid of the leftists because he is pro-life, afraid of the conservative crowd because trusts the teachings of Vatican II, afraid of his brother priests because he feels uncertain about their loyalty should any accusation ever come his way, etc., etc. etc.
It would be too easy to dismiss this young priest as neurotic were it not for the solid and objective foundation of his fears.
Part of the un-sufficiently discussed quagmire resulting from the sins of priests is the climate of abandonment and fear created primarily by, frankly, weak bishops.
Rather than insist on the Gospel teachings of forgiveness, love of our enemies, doing good to those who persecute us, rather than admit their own responsibility, and accepting the consequences, the Bishops have opted fundamentally to hide in the shadows cast by aggressive lawyers and insurance agents.
Certainly victims of the horrific evil of abuse should be compensated in every way they need, no matter the cost; certainly priest-predators should be dealt with according to law.
The climate of fear and confusion, of a lack of complete healing for victims, a lack of true repentance and conversion among bishops and priests alike, comes from seeing the Gospel as second source/resource in the face of evil and division as opposed to secular solutions as being the way to go.
Bishops and priests should be gathering, publicly, on a regular basis, in simple adoration, intercession and atonement before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, be seen publicly availing themselves at the same time of regular recourse to Sacramental Confession, be seen, Bishop with his priest-sons, priests with their brother priests, concelebrating a Holy Mass for a healing of this climate of sin and fear, followed by praying the Holy Rosary together and re-consecrating themselves, Totus Tuus as Pope John Paul exemplified for us, to Jesus through Mary.
That young priest will only overcome his fear when he knows he is son to his Bishop and brother among brothers.
We will only effectively prevent further abuse of the innocent when all priests are holy.
We will only become holy priests when we are, bishop and priests as one, humble students in the school of Mary.
That quote from St. Isaac the Syrian? Here it is: Confusion should be called the chariot of the devil, because satan is ever wont to mount upon it as a charioteer, and bearing with him the throng of the passions, he invades the ..soul and plunges her into the pit of confusion.
There is no greater confusion than when bishops and priests become ‘of the world’ rather than aflame with the Holy Gospel.