January 28, 2008

Accountability

Every once in a while I realize that the clergy sexual abuse crisis remains the defining characteristic of the Catholic priesthood for many people. And in some ways, I'm glad.

I'm glad because it calls me to accountability. What is most heinous about the sexual abuse was not the abuse itself--as horrible as it is--but the failure of accountability on the part of pastors and bishops.

Everyone who has a public ministry in the Church, from the lector at weekdays Mass right up to the Pope, owes the people of God public accountability for the health of their vocation and their spirituality. I should be prepared for someone to come up to me and ask, "Do you remember when you were ordained deacon, and you promised to keep the daily Liturgy of the Hours for my sake and for the world? Are you faithful to it?" Or I should welcome my Capuchin brother who takes me to task for the hour of mental prayer I have promised to keep each day.

1 comment:

Pia said...

This is an issue which is dear to my heart, Fr. I don't know if what you're saying is part of mainstream thinking, but perhaps it is, because the scandal rocked the American Church to its very core and now perhaps is the time to start rebuilding. However, here in Italy the attitude is different (even though it has been mentioned that there will be established a day of atonement for these terrible wounds, but they've been saying it for over a year). Much of how I feel is due to the fact that the Italian Church has always been much too connected politically: no separation of Church and State with many, many cases of grave political corruption involving the Christian Democratic party, corruption in the IOR -the vatican bank and elsewhere, and finally, the tough stance regarding accusations of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests in Italy. It's a very complicated situation, much too difficult for me to even fathom it, but it is taking a toll on me spiritually. I am losing my innate sense of trust and the simplicity that had sustained me for so long and I am not happy.