Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Advice from Father Benedict Groeschel on the Sexual Abuse Crisis

Father Benedict Groeschel
The Internet is overflowing with suggestions on how to handle this latest phase of the sexual abuse crisis.  We are told that we need to throw out all the bishops, whether they are directly involved or not.  We are told that all named clergy predators need to go to jail.  Certainly people need to be held accountable and face the consequences of what they have done.

But what can we, as laity, do to help this situation.  The late, great Father Benedict Groeschel tells us in a beautiful article written in 2002.  The article, entitled, "Healing the Body of Christ" starts out:
The Catholic Church in America has been deeply hurt by the scandal involving the abuse of youngsters by some of the clergy. Loyal and devout Catholics have been particularly distressed by it.
 If there ever was a time for Divine Mercy, it is now. Our hurting Church is "the crucified Body of Christ" -- as I point out in my new book From Scandal to Hope. Click here for online catalogue. Only Divine Mercy can bring us the healing and reconciliation we so need. And that includes the victims and their families, our priests, our bishops, priests falsely accused of abuse, the abusers themselves, and the whole body of Christ.

I heard Father Groeschel speak many, many times both in person and in the media.  He was one of the most real, down-to-earth people you would ever meet.  And he truly loved people, especially the poor and forgotten of society.  If I have ever met anyone filled with the Holy Spirit, that person was Father Benedict Groeschel.   He loved Our Lord and he loved the Church, completely spending his life in service to God's people.

Father Groeschel continues in his article:
Our only hope lies in trusting completely in Jesus, The Divine Mercy. We must turn to Him in a spirit of prayer and reparation, and then rededicate ourselves to really living His message of mercy.
Father Groeschel then goes on to give us concrete ways in which we can use the Divine Mercy to help heal the Church.  Screaming and condemning can make us feel good for a short while, but it does nothing to help heal the deep wounds inflicted on the Body of Christ and, in fact, only deepens those wounds.

This article really does seem like to could be written in 2018.  Father Groeschel advises us to make a prayer list and tells us who should be included in that list, starting, of course, with the victims:
At the top of the list, I would put the victims and their families. Many of the victims have suffered untold trauma throughout their entire lives as a result of the abuse. Many have also withdrawn from the life of the Church, which they believe has failed them so badly. The family members of the abused -- many of them good Catholics -- were devastated when they learned of the betrayal of trust.
 Next on our prayer list should be priests:
Then, there are the vast majority of our priests who now live under a cloud of suspicion and are greatly discouraged. Most people do not realize it, but, at present, the human rights of all Catholic clergy in the United States have been suspended because of the intense media attention given to the scandal. Almost any accusation, true or false, can knock a bishop or priest out of his pastoral work and even his place to live.
Then Father Groeschel tells us to pray for the bishops.  Many people seem to feel that we need to get rid of all of our bishops. I think Father Groeschel would be in strong disagreement with such an action:
Meanwhile, our bishops bear the heaviest load of responsibility in dealing with this crisis. As the shepherds of the flock, they have been made the whipping boys of the situation by the media. Some have made serious mistakes. However, our bishops are dedicated men doing the best they can in trying times. Over the last two decades, many of them have agonized over this matter of clergy sex abuse of the young. They sought the advice of lawyers, psychiatrists, and psychologists who tried to help, but who often failed to realize that it takes more than therapy and money to overcome serious sin.
Next on the list are those many think do not even exist - the falsely accused priests.  And yes, there have been those falsely accused.  Probably the most high profile person in this category was Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.  I lived in Chicago in the 90's at the time of this story, and it was a huge story. Steven Cook later recanted this story and said that his memories, which were evoked during hypnosis, were "unreliable."  HERE.  Cardinal Bernardin immediately forgave Mr. Cook, and in fact went out of his way to visit Mr. Cook when he was dying of AIDS.  The Cardinal celebrated Mass for Mr. Cook and anointed him.

That is only one story of a false accusation.  You can be sure there are many more.  We can only wonder how many priests have been destroyed because of false accusations.  From Father Groeschel:
We also have another class of victims to bring to The Divine Mercy -- some priests I know whom I believe have been falsely accused. As with the abuse case against the late Cardinal Bernardin, some accusers have retracted false testimony. But what does an innocent priest do if he does not know the specific accusation made against him or have the opportunity to face his accuser?
Next on our prayer list is the most difficult of all, the guilty priests:
Of course, we have the abusers themselves. When we think of this terrible sin, ultimately the only explanation is that some clergy have given in to diabolical temptation. A few priests have not done penance and have persisted in their sinful behavior, which is so bad that our Lord said in the Gospel it would have been better if they had never been born. Other priests have been deeply penitent after falling once. They have sought help and stayed completely away from occasions of sin.
Finally, Father Groeschel tells us we need to pray for all in the Church who are struggling with the revelation of this scandal:
Finally, there's all of us who have been profoundly hurt by what we have seen or heard in the media about this scandal involving the Church we love. If you're anything like me, you've probably experienced a storm of conflicting emotions in trying to sort through this mess. There's great compassion and concern for the victims and their families, as well as the vast majority of good priests and bishops. Then there's the outrage we feel toward the abusive priests and apparently negligent bishops, and distortions of the crisis by the media. 
Father Groeschel then gives us concrete ways in which we can incorporate The Divine Mercy into our lives in praying for the Church.  Please read this whole article HERE. This is by far the best way to deal with this scandal.  Emotional outbursts, finger pointing, condemning, name calling, signing petitions, calling for the immediate removal of all bishops whether guilty or not - this is not the way of Jesus Christ.  This is exactly what Satan wants to us to, and far too many are acceding to his wishes and giving him even further victories over the Church.

I will end with a prayer from St. Faustina quoted by Father Groeschel.  We must remember that God will show only as much mercy towards us as we show towards others.  We cannot expect mercy and forgiveness from God if we do not have that same mercy and forgiveness towards others.
"Jesus, I beg You, by the incomparable power of Your mercy, that all the souls who will die today escape the fire of hell, even if they have been the greatest sinners. Today is Friday, the memorial of Your bitter agony on the Cross; because Your mercy is inconceivable, the Angels will not be surprised at this." Jesus pressed me to His Heart and said, "My beloved daughter, you have come to know well the depths of My mercy. I will do what you ask, but unite yourself continually with my agonizing Heart and make reparation to My justice. Know that you have asked Me for a great thing, but I see that this was dictated by your pure love for Me; that is why I am complying with your requests" (Diary,873).


  1. Catholic in Brooklyn, check out the following URL:


    1. What do you think of this, Christopher? His Excellency seems to be completely at odds with Pope Francis. In fact, Pope Francis would point to this letter as part of the problem.

    2. That is another reason why, as I said in an earlier comment, I pray that Francis stays Pope long enough to name Bishop Morlino's successor...


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