Some things that must be said before I can talk about my Holy Week and Easter experience. First, I entered Holy Week with a heart churning with worry. Not only was I overburdened with work, my mind was very much occupied with the awful scandals that have again erupted in our church. In spite of Pope Benedict's stern rebuke of the Irish bishops who turned a blind eye to abuse, some were determined to implicate him in a "cover-up" in the case of a notorious molester priest in Wisconsin, while Benedict was still a cardinal and head of the CDF. Of course, this brought about a spate of anti-Catholic screeds in the media, particularly painful during Holy Week.
It was tough work to separate fiction from fact. Two things stood out for me - first, that the local diocese should have taken action on their own to get rid of this priest (why did they never bring the force of civil law to bear on this man?). Second, even if Pope Benedict is guilty of a cover-up (and I doubt it - having looked at the facts of the case, at worst he did not treat the case with due urgency, and that may not even be the case, considering how slowly the wheels of canon law turn), it doesn't change anything for me. We've had bad popes before. Catherine of Siena is an ever greater inspiration for me at this time - after all, she remained loyal to Christ and his Church in spite of a succession of sometimes greedy, weak, fearful and venal popes. It doesn't change the fact that the Catholic Church preaches Truth.
But how can you tolerate the horrors of child abuse, you may ask? It's simple. I don't. I believe, as does our Pope, that the "filth" must be rooted out from the Church. I also believe that molester priests should definitely be dealt with appropriately under civil law. If there's anything about the whole thing that makes my stomach turn, it is the fact that some bishops and church officials did deliberately protect molester priests. But I don't see any evidence that Pope Benedict is one of them. He's not a man who would turn a blind eye to evil. But even if he was, it doesn't change the truth of the Church's teachings. I put my faith in Christ Jesus and the Church he founded, not in any individual pope, much as I might admire him.
I also don't doubt that this scandal is ultimately diabolical in origin. (I can only imagine the reaction of my secular friends and colleagues if I expressed that sentiment to them.) Think about it: What better way to neutralize and diminish a great force for good and for Truth in our world, than to implicate its leaders in one of the few perversions our oversexed society still finds revolting? Make no mistake, this is the end goal, whether conscious or unconscious. Shame on those who would use victimized children as a club with which to beat the Church. I wonder if these activists, who are being widely quoted in the media (one on NPR today was openly agitating for democratically elected bishops) actually care about these children at all?
I'll leave you with some excellent links I've gathered over the past week as I try to deal with this issue:
New York Daily News: Fairness for the Pope
CatholicEducation.org: A Response to Christopher Hitchens' The Great Catholic Coverup
National Review, Fr. Raymond de Souza: A Response to the New York Times
The Anchoress: Why I Remain a Catholic (I love the Anchoress' blog, by the way. She's a fantastic blogger - she cuts to the heart of the matter without ranting or vitriol. I wish I had just an ounce of her grace and patience, not to mention writing skill.)