Now I wasn't there, and it's possible that these quotes from Catholic News Service can be taken out of context, but the comments below betray a certain consistency with other recent episcopal responses to the physical and sexual abuse of Catholic children and the media and public reaction to same that I think is worth noting. Apparently it is modernism and a malevolent media to blame for all. Who knew?
Bishop Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa, Okla., recently celebrated a two-and-a-half-hour pontifical solemn high Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception April 24, replacing Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the celebrant originally scheduled by the Maryland-based Paulus Institute for the event, meant to honor the fifth anniversary of Benedict XVI's papacy. The cardinal was forced to withdraw after a furor erupted over a letter he wrote in 2001 as the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy, praising a French bishop for not reporting an abusive priest to authorities. (The Vatican had to then quickly emphasize that bishops are expected to comply with all civil laws that mandate reporting of sex abuse allegations and to cooperate in civil investigations.) The Mass was celebrated in Latin for the first time in decades at the basilica, according to CNS, "with ancient chants and with pomp, splendor and majesty" (take that novus ordo zombies!). In his homily Bishop Slattery noted the "enormous suffering which is all around us and which does so much to determine the culture of our modern age," pointing to "the enormous suffering of His Holiness these past months" as well as the suffering of those who face poverty, abuse, neglect, disease and heartache. Such suffering, he said, "defines the culture of our modern secular age."
Really, with all due respect, what exactly is this enormous suffering the Holy Father and similarly embarrassed episcopal leaders are enduring while they take every opportunity to fulminate about the dread effects of modernism and the dark sexual forces unleashed by our wanton secular age? It seems to me they're suffering their share (as we laypeople suffer ours) of a proper mortification served up by newspaper coverage that, however imperfect at times, is essentially doing the church a huge institutional service. Let’s try to perceive how that "suffering" compares to an 11-year-old child tied up and raped by his pastor and forced to carry that memory around for a lifetime while he bumps into his abuser at parish festivals and school fundraisers, then tries to concoct some semblance of normal physical and emotional intimacy as an adult . . . Hmm. I’m thinking not much . . . And it must come as a great relief to assign clerical psychosexual perversion and cruelty to Vatican IIish modernism, even if that doesn't properly square with the reality that the vast majority of the abusive clerics completed their formation years before Popes John or Paul began their efforts.
From CNS: Suffering, said Bishop Slattery, "yours, mine, the pontiff's" -- is "the heart of personal holiness ... It is the means by which we are made witnesses of his suffering and sharers in the glory to come. . . . Do not be dismayed that many in the church have not yet grasped this point, and fewer still in the world will even consider it . . . You know this to be true -- and 10 men who whisper the truth speak louder than a hundred million who lie."
I can't say I'm really sure what the good bishop is getting at there. Could be I'm just part of that 100 million (my hearing has grown awfully poor of late), but I'm thinking Jesus would have endorsed a pass on the suffering of so many children and their families and the children of these children, even as a pathway to personal holiness. Whatever the redemptive value such suffering may offer the church today, it really doesn't add up well.