As I write this today, September 17, Crux has two more reports of sexual abuse and cover up in the Church. One report is from the Netherlands: "Over half of Dutch bishops shielded priest-abusers, according to report:
A sensational new report on sexual abuse in the Netherlands claims over half of the bishops in the country from 1945-2010 were involved in either covering up abuse or abusing children themselves.
. . .
The NRC Handelsblad report claims 20 of 39 bishops during the period are implicated in at least covering up abuse, with four auxiliary bishops suspected of abusing minors themselves.Crux also reports "Chilean hero expelled from priesthood over sex abuse charges." This is on top of the abuse scandal among the Chilean bishops.
A priest [Father Cristián Precht Bañado] who was once a national hero in Chile, and who now finds himself another casualty of that country’s massive clerical sexual abuse crisis, has been expelled from the priesthood by Pope Francis after being found guilty of abusing minors and vulnerable adults.Precht is an extremely high profile priest with an impressive resume. It turns out he has been an abuser for years, even abusing teenagers in confession.
Something has gone seriously wrong with the priesthood in the Catholic Church. We cannot go on with business as usual. We need to take a long hard look at priests and bishops to try to understand why they have so flagrantly violated the vows and promises they made before man and God. Why did/do they feel so empowered to sin against the laity and ultimately, against the Holy Spirit?
Some feel the answer to this crisis is to allow priests to marry. Others feel that women should be ordained. There are calls for much more thorough and aggressive screening of candidates for the seminary. There are suggestions of panels made up of laity overseeing the conduct of the bishops.
All of these suggestions are like using band aids to treat cancer. None of these "solutions" attack the root cause of bad priests and bishops. None of these "solutions" will change who these priests and bishops are.
We are seeing a spiritual cancer in the Church, The only way to wipe out this cancer is with spiritual remedies.
One of the greatest priests of the 20th Century, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, said that his greatest weapon in fighting evil was a holy hour every single day in front of the Blessed Sacrament. As he once stated:
It is impossible for me to explain how helpful the Holy Hour has been in preserving my vocation. Scripture gives considerable evidence to prove that a priest begins to fail his priesthood when he fails in his love of the Eucharist. Too often it is assumed that Judas fell because he loved money. Avarice is very rarely the beginning of the lapse and the fall of the ambassador.
The history of the Church proves there are many with money who stayed in it. The beginning of the fall of Judas and the end of Judas both revolved around the Eucharist. The first mention that Our Lord knew who it was who would betray him is at the end of the sixth chapter of John, which is the announcement of the Eucharist. The fall of Judas came the night Our Lord gave the Eucharist, the night of the Last Supper.
Archbishop Sheen believed so deeply in the benefits of Eucharistic Adoration that he actually traveled around the world preaching this message to as many priests as he could, urging them to make daily one-hour Adoration a regular part of their spiritual routine.
Archbishop Sheen was so personally devoted to daily adoration that he kept the Blessed Sacrament in his apartment during his last days. He actually died while kneeling in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
We need to listen to this good and holy man, who never had so much as a hint of scandal about him. Just as all priests are required under pain of mortal sin to recite their breviary every day, I propose that all priests and bishops be required to spend one hour every day in adoration.
Being assigned to churches, all priests have access to the Blessed Sacrament 24 hours a day, so there really is no excuse for them. If priests are away from their home church, they certainly would have no problem contacting a nearby church to arrange for adoration, as Archbishop Sheen did.
Pope Francis himself spends an hour every day in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
In a homily in 2016, Pope Francis said this:
“One cannot know the Lord without the habit of adoring, of adoring in silence. I believe — if I am not mistaken — that this prayer of adoration is the least known among us; it is the one we engage in the least. To waste time — if I may say it — before the Lord, before the mystery of Jesus Christ. To adore, there in the silence, in the silence of adoration. He is the Lord and I adore Him.”
Pope St. John Paul II wrote and spoke often of Eucharistic adoration:
"Closeness to the Eucharistic Christ in silence and contemplation does not distance us from our contemporaries but, on the contrary, makes us open to human joy and distress, broadening our hearts on a global scale. Through adoration the Christian mysteriously contributes to the radical transformation of the world and to the sowing of the gospel. Anyone who prays to the Eucharistic Savior draws the whole world with him and raises it to God."
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"From the Eucharist comes strength to live the Christian life and zeal to share that life with others,"
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"Only through the Eucharist is it possible to live the heroic virtues of Christianity: charity, to the point of forgiving one's enemies; love for those who make us suffer; chastity in every age and situation of life; patience in suffering and when one is shocked by the silence of God in the tragedies of history or of one's own personal existence. You must always be Eucharistic souls in order to be authentic Christians,"
Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote in an encyclical entitled Mysterium Fidei:
Christ is truly Emmanuel, which means "God with us." For He is in the midst of us day and night; He dwells in us with the fullness of grace and of truth.
He raises the level of morals, fosters virtue, comforts the sorrowful, strengthens the weak and stirs up all those who draw near to Him to imitate Him, so that they may learn from his example to be meek and humble of heart, and to seek not their own interests but those of God.
Anyone who has a special devotion to the sacred Eucharist and who tries to repay Christ's infinite love for us with an eager and unselfish love of his own, will experience and fully understand—and this will bring great delight and benefit to his soul—just how precious is a life hidden with Christ in God and just how worthwhile it is to carry on a conversation with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling here on earth, nothing more efficacious for progress along the paths of holiness.As Blessed Pope Paul VI said:
"Perpetual Adoration brings heaven's choice blessings in the first place on those generous souls that keep their hour-long tryst with the Lord."If all of our bishops and priests spent one hour every day in front of the Blessed Sacrament, we would see incredible miracles take place in the Church. Of this I have no doubt.
There is one other requirement I would make of the clergy, and that is weekly confession. Pope Francis has promoted confession like no other pope we have ever seen, actually kneeling down at the confessional for all the world to see.
From Pope Francis:
"Confessing to a priest is a way of putting my life into the hands and heart of someone else, someone who in that moment acts in the name of Jesus. It’s a way to be real and authentic: we face the facts by looking at another person and not in the mirror."
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"There is also the importance of the gesture. The very fact that someone goes to the confessional indicates as initiation of repentance, even if it is not conscious. Without that initial impulse, the person would not be there. His being there is testimony to the desire for change. Words are important, but the gesture is explicit. And the gesture itself is important"
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"What advice would you give a penitent so that he can give a good confession? He ought to reflect on the truth of his life, of what he feels and what he thinks before God. He ought to be able to look earnestly at himself and his sin. He ought to feel like a sinner, so that he can be amazed by God"Can you imagine the great healing that would come to Holy Mother Church if our priests and bishops did just these two things: Daily Eucharistic Adoration and Weekly Confession. It would transform them in ways we can't even imagine.
There is also no reason why those preparing to be priests should not also be required to spend one hour in daily adoration and go to weekly confession. It would instill in them two of the most efficacious habits they could ever learn.
And it's not a bad idea for the rest of us, as much as we can manage it. Our world is unbearably evil. It seems that Satan himself has been unleashed upon us, seeking everywhere for those he can destroy. Adoration and confession are two of the best ways to arm ourselves against him. These two spiritual tools will draw us closer to Christ and fill us with the Holy Spirit.
All of this really boils down to making Jesus Christ the center of our lives. We must realize that we cannot battle evil on our own. We will be defeated every time. We must allow Him into our lives, asking for the grace and courage that can come only from Our Lord.
Our hope is not from man, but from above.