Abuse and Conversion
08/June/2009 Filed in: Jottings
The recent publication of the Ryan report has refocussed attention on abuse within the Catholic Church. The lamentable response of many religious orders is cause for shame and concern, but once the subject slips from the headlines, will anything change? The media tend to concentrate on sexual abuse but there are other areas where the misuse of power and authority has caused suffering and injustice. Over time some of these may come to light and we'll all react with shock and horror and ask ourselves, how could we have let that happen? There is a parallel here with the abuse of the MPs' expenses system (not that I mean to imply that money is as important as people) and the political fall-out from what is widely perceived as corruption at the heart of Westminster. A misplaced sense of entitlement, of being immune from criticism provided one stays within the letter of the law (and Church institutions, like Parliament, can be said to have both legislative and executive functions) and, sadly, a failure to realise the truth of the gospel injunction, that to whom more is given, from them more will be required, allow abuse to flourish. I'm sorry for those who have been (and perhaps are being) hurt. I'm sorry that good and faithful priests and religious will be condemned along with those who acted (and maybe are acting) wrongly. I'm sorry for those who have been (and possibly are now) guilty of abuse and abuses. Above all, I'm sorry that, as one Catholic priest put it, the Church in Ireland (and elsewhere) has been too Catholic to be Christian. I'm even sorry that the British political system is such a shambles. But, and it is an important but, we cannot let "sorry" be the end of the story. Consciousness of sin and wrong-doing CAN be a spur to conversion. Heaven knows, we need a lot of that; and today is a very good day to begin — with ourselves and our own lives.