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JPII and St. Nicholas

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

JPII vs Abuse Crisis

In recent years, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has publicly confronted the sexual abuse crisis in the Church.  He has prayed, sought pardon for priests, and visited victims and locations where the abuse occurred.
His predecessor helped to lay the groundwork for such difficult reconciliation and healing.  Together, the two men turned shame into purification, disaster into opportunity for reform.

In my lifetime, I have observed the Church undergo transformation and renewal, even in the midst of some of the darkest days of her history.  Certainly, nothing can ever fully heal wounds as deep as abuse--but, the measures taken to not only avoid such abuse in the future, but to guarantee good priestly formation and child safety for generations to come far outweigh the wounds inflicted in a few decades.  Again, I do not excuse the behavior of Christian leaders (since it was not just Catholic clergy responsible for the abuse), but I do propose that men like Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI took painful measures to repair what was broken--far beyond what was expected of them as shepherds.  I would even go so far as to suggest that by working on magnum opuses like Love and Responsibility, The Theology of the Body, and  The Acting Person, JPII went after the lost sheep on a man-to-man basis--offering to pick them up and carry them with his teaching.  Even so, several disobeyed.

What was the cause of such disobedience?  And, why were there not immediate consequences?

Based on the subject matter of much of Blessed John Paul II's writing, namely the admonishing of leadership to address sexual ethics in an age of birth control and promiscuity, I would say that plenty of sound preventative material was available to the faithful post-Vatican II.  Not only that, but early on in his pontificate canon law was updated by the holy father to swiftly deal with 'crimes' associated with clergy:
The Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1983 updated the whole discipline n can, 1395, § 2: 'A cleric who in another way has committed an offense against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, if the delict was committed by force or threats or publicly or with a minor below the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants'.
Why then, were there abuses in the light of such measures?  My guess is that on a local, diocesan level, leaders were not getting the preventative training that exists today--Protecting God's Children.

Wide in scope and sparing no leadership position of necessary accountability, on a local level, Protecting God's Children came into effect toward the end of JPII's reign.  It required leaders to be certified in overseeing youth, in addition to being accountable to other leaders in a parish or school.  In my opinion, it successfully, and finally made an impact on parishes-- to such a degree that it has become the undisputed norm (along with JPII's teaching on human sexuality to back it up). 
Another key to the implementation of his teaching was the collaboration between laity and clergy--a simultaneous goal of the new evangelization.

Therefore, the unstoppable teamwork of JPII and future pope, Joseph Ratzinger, bore fruit in a swift and effective solution to abuses in the Church:
Finally Pope John Paul II decided to include the sexual abuse of a minor under 18 by a cleric, among the new list of canonical delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Prescription for these cases was of ten (10) years from the 18th birthday of the victim. This new law was promulgated in the motu proprio 'Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela' on 30 April 2001. A letter signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, respectively Prefect and Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was sent to all the Roman Catholic Bishops on 18 May 2001. This letter informed the bishops of the new law and the new procedures which replaced the Instruction 'Crimen Sollicitationis'.
The Catholic Bishops did well to 'clean house' in their own dioceses.  As the old scripture says, 'judgment begins with the house of God'.  Truly, such judgment calls for reform and ultimately, a purified and more ordered house--focused on doing the will of God and not hampered with confusion, fear, and blame. 

Today, the Church is much more focused on the new evangelization.  So much so that, beyond accusers and fault-finders, many would have trouble guessing that the past 40+ years even had trouble with regard to abuse in the Church. 


from: http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_introd-storica_en.html 


Anonymous said...

Donatism, the heresy that says that Sacramental grace depends on the holiness of the clergy, was dispelled by St. Augustine of Hippo. Rather, grace is available to believers in the Sacraments regardless of the priest's/bishops/pope's righteousness.

Anonymous said...

Even though Church leadership has addressed sexual ethics issues on a grand scale, much of the laity is dumbfounded at Church teaching. For those who seek the truth, it is available, but not exactly accessible within the confines of a local parish.

Anonymous said...

Patrick Madrid dealt with a caller on the radio 07/10/13:
"Why wasn't JPII more harsh on pedophile priests?" PM="A few reasons: 1)he was incredulous about the prospect of this really going on, that is, in Poland the communists would 'set up' priests with these types of scandals and so, JPII thought that was the case. 2)His frailty, although even in the face of his suffering, he did address the issue--see his letter(1992) "Pastores Dabo Vobis"

LucasSKY said...

It's really a double edge sword with media:

On the one hand you got pedophile priests, on the other you got well-meaning Bishops who fight government in UK, USA, etc. especially against SSM. So, in the end they balance each other out!

EUROpal said...

Survival Rate 1960s-present:
1) Roe v Wade & sexual revolution
2) Cold War, Civil Rights
3) child abuse crisis
4) 9/11, Columbine, etc.
5) Drugs and Gnosticism (new age, Da Vinci Code, etc.)
6) Addictions and Isolation (technology)
7) New World Order/EU/Socialism