With new scandals assailing parts of the Church today (mainly in the US), we are reminded that we are into another round of crucifixion time for our Mother, the Church. We should not be surprised anymore by this development. But we should be prepared to handle this predicament properly and learn some precious lessons.
The life of the Church cannot help but reflect the life, passion, death and resurrection of Christ, its founder and its body into which we, Christian believers, are incorporated. Yes, we cannot escape the curse of sin in our life as well as in the life of the Church as a whole.
Like Christ, the Church has to bear all the sins of men, including those committed by its temporal leaders. Christ did all he could to sanctify us. He preached, performed miracles, instituted the sacraments and founded the Church, etc. But in the end, due to our hard-headedness and all kinds of weaknesses, he just had to offer his life to save us. The Church cannot do no less. She has to suffer the same fate.
It is, of course, painful to experience all these scandals, but we should not over-react to the point of making things worse. These scandals, a consequence of human weaknesses that can afflict even our Church leaders, are actually a call for another conversion, which is something that is meant to be a continuing, life-long process for each one of us. Something very good can be derived from these scandals.
We just have to focus more on what we can gain from these scandals in terms of what can favour another conversion rather than on getting hooked on their purely negative aspects. Of course, there will be elements that will rub it in on us. Some sectors of the media will have a field day in this. But this should also be expected.
We just have to be ready to react to all this properly, as shown by Christ himself. And that is simply to suffer together with Christ — a suffering that is in accordance to the will of the Father. In a sense, the suffering caused by the scandals is another concrete way of identifying ourselves more intimately with Christ. In a way, it is a welcome development.
In the meantime, we have to do the continuing task of cleaning up our own selves and the Church as an institution. We cannot deny that weaknesses, temptations and sins will always hound us. We have to identify more clearly the deficiencies in Christian life that give rise to these scandals and come up with the appropriate measures to address them.
Offhand, we can take another review of how the formation of priests and seminarians is done. What improvement can be made in that department? How should priests be more effectively accompanied in their ministry so that their spiritual life would remain healthy as they carry out their heavy responsibilities?
And since transparency is also a goal to be pursued, how should this be done without compromising the basic human rights of all the parties involved? How should Church authorities handle cases where the legal rights of persons are involved? Justice, charity and mercy should go hand in hand.
These, I suppose, are some of the things that have to be looked into if only to minimize the cases of scandals that can unnecessarily disturb the people in general. It cannot be denied that the Church authorities have to install appropriate means and structures to be in step with the rightful expectations of the world.
It’s about time for the Church authorities to air out the hidden dirty closets. Transparency and accountability should be lived strictly. It certainly will be a very painful and unpleasant task, but it will definitely be for the common good, and will give due glory to God!
Fr. Roy Cimagala is the Chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise, Talamban, Cebu City (email@example.com)./WDJ