By Hugh McNichol
April 9, 2008 - The word is out that Pope Benedict XVI will call for healing and reconciliation among Catholics in the United States over the clergy sex scandal that has engulfed the Catholic Church in theU.S. Papal pronouncements on this topic are certainly welcome and should assist in putting the issue behind us and helping the Church to move forward with healing and reconciliation.
Benedict XVI, as a bridge-builder, offers forgiveness and healing so the Church in the United States can learn and grow from these unfortunate incidents. After the Pope makes his remarks, the Catholic Church in the U.S. needs to continue its vigilance in protecting all individuals from predatory sexual behavior and then continue to move past the scandal. Acknowledgement, forgiveness and reconciliation are the key points necessary for everyone in the United States to understand.
While healing and reconciliation are both crucial components for the Church to evolve beyond the sex scandal, the aspect of hope is most important to include in our expectations. Hope quite simply that we have as a Church learned something positive about this problem and afirm resolution not to let it happen again. No one can realistically expect all of the parties involved in this unfortunate series of events to get over the matter any time soon. However, with spiritual prayer,sacramental forgiveness and the prospects of a better future for the Church, the faith will survive.
Benedict XVI in making any type of statement regarding the clergy sex scandal offers the chance for Catholics, both victims and perpetrators to pursue the Gospel’s message of total conversion in Christ Jesus…namely an acknowledgement of the sin, repentance and the potential of new life through the Church and its Sacraments.
As Catholics, the message of Gospel conversion is intrinsically part of who and what we are as Catholics. In terms of the past scandal, now we have to permit the process of healing to happen through our own personal and institutional commitments…with the healing power of the Holy Spirit.
Traditionally, the process of conversion involves a radical transformation on the part of the person or group experiencing the actions of conversion. As a Catholic Church, we have indeed experienceda radical change as a result of this scandal, and now it is time to continue building a Church that has been positively transformed as aresult of this past suffering.
Everyone connected with the Church has experienced the results of this scandal. Clergy, religious, laity and non-Catholics have been drawn into the turmoil caused by these immoral and illegal activities,as well as the resulting litigation and settlements. Now as a Church and religious people committed to new life and spiritual conversion, we have to permit the process to continue.
Benedict’s public attention to this scandal should provide another opportunity for all members of the Catholic Church to put the matter in the adversarial past and allow all of us to convert our thoughts and actions to a more positive and productive Catholic future. Hugh McNichol is a Catholic author that writes on Catholic religious topics and subjects. His articles can be found atwww.catholicnewsagency.com and verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com, andwww.pewsitter.com