If a priest or deacon has to preach on the scriptures and show how they are relevent today the collective intelligence of the congregation matters so much more than is ever taught in homelitcs classes. Take for instance the second reading at mass on Sunday, 1 Thes 5: 16-24, reminds us that we need to thank God for everything that happens to us. Of course that is easier said than done, especially in the midst of something we perceive or is actually really bad. (I pray for this gift for myself.)
A very timely subject for this would be the horrendous clergy sex abuse scandal and the even more horrendous way in which it is being handled by the Church, (collectively that is). God did not cause this scandal. Men caused this scandal. Switching gears to the current Penn State sex abuse scandal and Jerry Sandusky we also see, if not cover-up then, at the very least apathy for the sexual safety of children. When this became public knowledge the board of directors acted swiftly and concisely. People who did not do enough to protect children, and /or people who sullied the good name and image of the school, were swiftly dealt with, fired etc.
Contrast that with the response of the Church. At first offending priests were not dealt with. Finally many of them were stripped of their clerical state or they were allegedly sent to live out their lives in prayer for their sins. (I have heard stories that some of them have unlimited freedom to come and go as they please. SCANDALOUS!!!!) But it seems it ended with offending priests. What about all the priests and lay people who were a part of the conspiracy of silence and protection? Why weren’t they punished by the Church the way Joe Paterno was punished by the board of directors of Penn State? Penn State’s president also lost his job. Other than Boston’s Archbishop Law, who was allowed to resign, who has the Church fired?
I have said this before, Penn State saw how badly the Catholic Church has handled the sexual scandal in its own ranks so reacted in the opposite way. And therein lies the scriptural tie-in. God has taken something not caused by God that has been very, very, bad, (the clergy sexual scandal), and has made good come out of it, (the way other entities handle their own scandals). I sincerely believe that God will continue to make good, in ways we can not imagine, come from this tragedy.
If this were said and/or talked about in a parish with limited intelligence, limited in site, limited spiritual maturity then the connections would never be made…and all things are connected.
There was an opinion piece in the Wisconsin State Journal about the Penn State affair. It noted: “If we can find any solace in the events at Penn State, it would be that it has shed light on an unfortunate grim reality that communities cannot afford to ignore – Child sexual abuse happens at alarming rates, and it is the collective responsibility of adults everywhere to be aware of the signs of child abuse, to report abuse (even if it is merely suspected), and to actively create a safe environment for children everywhere. TO STAY SILENT AND TO WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO ACT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED COLLUSION WITH PERTETRATORS OF VIOLENCE. The reality is that child abuse thrives in secrecy, and sex offenders are relying on the fact that a significant number of people will not act if abuse is discovered.”
The sad truth is — as I talk with survivors of abuse — they can tell me who else know about the abuse at the time it was happening, and how that person did nothing.
If you look at other violence taking place – domestic violence, spiritual abuse, etc. There’s always someone (or more) who know — but do nothing. Or they tell the victim – you should confront him. Or you should move away. Confront the abuser yourselves. You know what he is doing. Report him to the authority. Be an advocate for the victim.