I will admit I have been in a dark space the past few days – because I failed to hand over to Christ what was burdening me, failed to accept the support of others.
Then John I read your blog “True Healing from Abuse Starts in the Heart” , which I pray others will read prayerfully: especially accused priests who need to accept responsibility and the falsely accused who need especially to love and forgive those who lie, to embrace the cross of the 9th Beatitude: Mt.5:11.
Hence I refer everyone to: True Healing from Abuse Starts in the Heart
You ask at the end of your blog about the so-called Zero Tolerance policy of the Bishop’s and does it really work.
Well John no, it does not.
Zero tolerance has become the vehicle for 100% cruelty, abandonment of the Roman Catholic Church as the church of the second chance.
Indeed, it has created an outlaw church.
In future blogs I will write about each of those consequences of so-called ‘zero tolerance’.
Pray as Church, bishops, priests and laity, we learn courage with compassion, truth without compromise: in a word that we put on and live by the mind and heart of Christ.
You are so clear in your statement about the “deep struggle”, which is particularly that of victims of abuse.
I thank-you also, for it is the hallmark of a true disciple of Christ to have such humility and charity, for this: “…what I yearn for…is to hear the sincere request by those who have abused me to forgive them.”
This is something I had forgotten and something for which, as a falsely accused priest myself, and know this to be true among my suffering brothers, we need to beg His grace for: true forgiveness and love of our enemies.
What is happening in the current frenzy is so insane and cruel: the protracted legal battles victims must endure for due compensation; the almost universal lack of bishops and priests bowing low before victims and begging forgiveness; a climate where every priest is presumed guilty, denied due process, abandoned by bishops and brother priests.
The whirlpool of unrelenting pain, grief, chaos, cowardice by bishops, engulfs victims and priests alike.
Many priests, just being whispered about, choose suicide rather than struggle to defend themselves since who is there willing to defend us?
Yes there are, thanks be to God, some organizations that do help and which can be found at the Hope For Priests Web site.
What is most comforting is to hear the voice of the laity, a voice such as yours John, which reminds everyone, not just suffering priests, Christ is our strength, our hope, our truth.
Mel Gibson in his film The Passion of the Christ simply yet powerfully introduces us to Simon of Cyrene as a real person, a real man, unexpectedly asked to participate in the salvation of the world by helping Christ bear the burden of our need for redemption.
The Holy Gospel reveals this mystery to us of Christ teaching by example that none is so strong we do not need the help of another: [see Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26, ff].
We gather from the texts Simon was a family man and that his sons Rufus and Alexander were well known members of the early Church.
I know John, because you have done so through our private correspondence, that in your own vocation as a Catholic Layman, a baptized disciple of Christ, husband and father of two children of your own, you have a great love for the priesthood, even though you have suffered much.
For you John I offer the following: 1] Until those who have abused you bow before you and beg your forgiveness, and with you also representing all victims of abuse, I bow low and beg your forgiveness. 2] A priest is In Persona Christi, therefore father-servant for every human being and as such I wish to introduce you, deeply, to St. Simon of Cyrene, the Cross-bearer.
One of the most beautiful reflections on the person and example of Simon I have read is by Charles Ludwig on his site: St. Simon of Cyrene
Essentially what is striking is Ludwig’s understanding of helping other with their burden as fundamental to being true disciples of Christ.
In this whole horrific mixture of sin, scandal, error, pain, etc. which is the so-called priest-abuse-scandal, we have forgotten the primacy of repentance and forgiveness as part of living the Gospel with our lives without compromise.
You John have reminded us of the essential: love.
Love as He who loves us first; love of Him as true love of one another; love as the generosity of forgiveness; love as the necessity of true repentance and conversion;
love as being burden-bearers, with Christ, for one another.
My own Spiritual Father shared this prayer with me, which assures we only take on the burdens our Heavenly Father asks of us, and protects us from being tricked by satan to pick up burdens which will crush us:
Lord, I embrace all that You send me and the Father wills for me, but ONLY in union with You and Your all-powerful Cross.
Everything that is not from You, please take away.
When the burden, of wounds you carry John because of abuse, or because of your frustration at the way Bishops are treating priests, is particularly raw, I offer you this prayer as well, which follows, for, ultimately, it is to be true children of the Father, in loving relationship with Him, that Christ allowed His Heart on the Cross to be opened up, that we might, in, with and through Him, come to the Father who yearns to take us into His arms that we might be healed, be loved:
Lord Jesus, I come to You and ask You to take away my burdens and to carry me in Your Heart to the Father.
Thank-you John for your loving and forgiving heart, for your love of priests, for your friendship, for your burden-bearing. May St. Simon become your close and personal friend, for I know henceforth he will help you carry your burdens.
You know John I pray everyday for an end to abuse of the innocent, of every person, for the endowing of bishops and priests with courage, humility, chastity, the true manhood and fatherhood you exemplify.
Please continue your prayer that the entire priesthood be re-converted anew, that we all be truly holy priest-servants of everyone.