Two tales out of one city, Rome, leave me wondering if some of the priests who finally "get it" about the sexual abuse crisis may be found in an order that has endured what can only be described as extraordinary revelations of abuse, while some at the Vatican are prepared to continue digging deeper rhetorical holes (evidently to someday accommodate, ostrich-like, their big heads). Both are from CNS:
Legionaries acknowledge founder abused seminarians, ask forgiveness
Top officials of the Legionaries of Christ acknowledged that the order's founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, sexually abused young seminarians, and they asked forgiveness for failing to listen to his accusers.
A statement released March 26 by the Legionaries and its lay branch, Regnum Christi, said that any members of the order who were guilty of cooperation in Father Maciel's crimes would be held accountable.
The statement said the Legionaries were looking to the future with the hope of continuing to serve the church, but with a greater emphasis on reconciling with those who suffered from Father Maciel's actions and greater cooperation with local pastors and other church officials.. . . The statement asked forgiveness from "those whom we did not believe or were incapable of giving a hearing to, since at the time we could not imagine that such behavior took place."
"If it turns out that anyone culpably cooperated in his misdeeds, we will act according to the principles of Christian justice and charity, holding these people responsible for their actions," it said. . . "Once again, we express our sorrow and grief to each and every person damaged by our founder's actions," the statement said. It offered the order's "pastoral and spiritual help" to those who were injured by Father Maciel's actions. . . . The statement said the Legionaries would follow the instructions given by Pope Benedict in light of the Vatican investigation, which was conducted in the order's institutions around the world. Many at the Vatican expect a major reorganization of the Legionaries, perhaps with direct supervision by the Vatican.
As it looks to the future, the statement said, the Legionaries resolved to do several things, including:
-- Reach out to those who have suffered.
-- Tell the truth about the order's history.
-- Protect minors in all its institutions.
-- Cooperate better with bishops and church institutions.
-- Continue oversight and demand accountability in the order.
-- Redouble its efforts to bring the Gospel to as many people as possible.
Let's compare that response (and let's hope the Legionaries will be true to the above promising commitment) with some of the self-serving and tone-deaf rhetoric that emerges in this report:
Amid crises, priests must convert, hold onto hope, says papal preacher
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Amid difficult moments facing the church, bishops, priests and deacons are called to conversion and to have hope in the future, the preacher of the papal household told Pope Benedict XVI and other top Vatican officials.
"Christ suffers more than we do for the humiliation of his priests and the affliction of his church," said Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household.
In his March 26 weekly Lenten meditation for the pope and his closest collaborators, Father Cantalamessa focused on readings from the Book of Lamentations and the Book of Jeremiah, including the prophet's crisis of faith and his lamenting of those who persecuted him.
The priest said the readings take on "particular significance if they are read in reference to the present moment of serious hardship we priests of the Catholic Church are experiencing," he said, referring to the growing revelations of sex abuse by clergy around the world and the increased media speculation over the role of the pope and the Vatican in handling past cases.
Father Cantalamessa said that in response to critics, God told Jeremiah to repent and return to the Lord, who would restore him. The prophet was told "if you bring forth the precious without the vile, you will be my mouthpiece."
The preacher addressed the pope specifically and reminded him that God told Jeremiah that before his detractors he would make him "a solid wall of brass. Though they fight against you, they shall not prevail. For I am with you to deliver and rescue you.. . . "The media's tenacity -- and we have seen it in other cases -- in the long run will bring about the opposite effect that they had hoped for," he added. . . .
I feel terrible that Father Cantalamessa has to endure such shame and hardship because of the actions of other priests. It must be a hard fall. I can assure him that we laypeople are equally ashamed and disheartened when we think about these crimes and for how long we turned a blind eye to them or ignored or refused to believe our own children when they reported them. Let's remember if it weren't for the tenacity of the media in regard to this ongoing, unfolding crisis, the Vatican and episcopal offices around the world would be continuing today with business as usual.