Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Over the past months a lot of stories have appeared in the media regarding clergy sexual abuse and its mishandling by Catholic bishops and even the pope himself. Much of this information is dated[1]. Next Tuesday we will celebrate the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul and even though I said something during the celebration of the Holy Thursday few months ago, this Sunday I would like to say something in defense of his holiness Benedict XVI[2].

Sexual abuse of children cries to heaven for justice, of course. It violates everything that is good and holy. It mocks everything Christ said in the gospels. Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to the innocence of a little child[3]. And for a Catholic priest to commit a crime and a sin like this is extremely evil. However sexual abuse is not exclusively or even primarily a Catholic problem. It is a sickness widespread in our society, in our culture and so it is a global problem[4].

It's certainly true that some Catholic priests perpetrated this evil on the innocent in years past. And many Catholic bishops ignored or failed to grasp the gravity of this crime in addressing the problem. However no other community or institution has checked up itself on this painful issue as rigorously as the Catholic Church. No other group has put into place zero tolerance policies for sexual abuse and created safe environment programs like the Catholic Church in America.  

And no person has done more to relieve the Church of the evil of sexual abuse than the current successor of St. Peter, Benedict XVI. As archbishop of Munich thirty years ago, then as the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and now as the Vicar of Christ, his holiness has always been dedicated to his responsibilities of purifying the Church in this area.

I meet cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and I was in my last year in the seminary before I was ordained, so I learned from direct, first-hand experience that Benedict XVI is truly a man of God. Believe me: he really is a gift to the Church and a shepherd after the heart of the Good Shepherd.

I was ordained 10 years ago and I came to this blessed and wonderful country five years ago, and one of the things that most surprised me were the attacks to the Holy father, it pains my heart –and should wound the heart of all Catholics- to see the nasty way he has been treated in the media. The violent attacks on his person and reputation, the disinformation and twisting of facts and the poor defense of the priests surprised me and broke my heart.

No other world religious leader, Jewish, Muslim or other, has been treated in this way. Disrespect for the Catholic Church—and don't be fooled; the disrespect is directed not just at Church leaders, but at ordinary believers as well—no matter how vulgar or bitter, is the last acceptable prejudice. Why? Because the Catholic Church is one of the few remaining voices that speaks effectively against the moral confusion of our world. The Catholic faith does not and will not bless the destructive moral path some people now seem to prefer.

Let me close this homily with the words of his Holiness in one of his homilies few weeks ago:
I am always struck by the passage in the Acts of the Apostles which recounts that after the Apostles had been whipped by order of the Sanhedrin, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41). Anyone who loves is ready to suffer for the beloved and for the sake of his love, and in this way he experiences a deeper joy. The joy of the martyrs was stronger than the torments inflicted on them.
Discipleship involves suffering. But suffering does complete a powerfully good thing: It clarifies who is willing to suffer for Christ's Church and her mission, and who is not

[1] The fact that these stories were triggered in part by an attorney with a long and lucrative financial history of litigating the Catholic community and were pressed with such enthusiasm by editors during Holy Week—and in particular on Good Friday—could hardly have been a coincidence.
[2] Sunday 27th June, 2010
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: 1 Kings 19:16, 19-21. You are my inheritance, O Lord—Ps 15(16): 1-2, 5, 7-11. Galatians 5:1, 13-18. Luke 9:51-62 [St Cyril of Alexandria].
[3] Cfr Matthew 18:3
[4] Most studies indicate that in the United States as much as 60 percent of all sexual abuse of minors takes place within families.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris