Pax Christi USA, as a national, nonviolent Catholic movement dedicated
to a spirituality of nonviolence and peacemaking and committed to
human rights, we are impelled to ask the following question:

CAN A CHURCH BETRAYED BECOME A CHURCH REDEEMED?

The People of God are experiencing yet another public
betrayal with the Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s
disclosure last week of the continuing abuse and secrecy in a Church
entrusted with witnessing to the Gospel.

There is no rationale or apology, no matter how well worded, thought
out, or eloquent it might be, that excuses the actions of the
perpetrators, the complicity, the rationalizations, and the cover-ups by
those in positions of trust and authority.

  • To all those with the courage to speak your truth after years of
    being held hostage by fear and silence…we pray for your
    continued healing.
  • To all those members of the Grand Jury who heard the pain of lost
    innocence and prepared such a comprehensive report…we
    commend your endurance.
  • To all those families who are affected by these betrayals of
    trust…we ask the God of unconditional love to sustain you.
  • To those mentioned in past, present and future reports for both
    illegal and/or immoral conduct against God’s most vulnerable
    people…we entrust you to the God of Justice.

How does an institution heal after such a profound betrayal? There
is no ‘fix’ short of a total transformation of the policies, practices, and
procedures within the structures of the Church. There needs to be a public profession of
complicity, along with real and symbolic proof that the institutional
Church is trustworthy.

This rebuilding of trust will take years, because the transformation needs to
be radical. Truth, accountability, and transparency need
to replace secret archives, loyalty to a highly dysfunctional system, and
a gross misuse of power. We desperately need a clergy who are more
committed to the needs and protection of their people than to the
institutional Church. For this radical transformation to be real it must
include opportunities for ALL people to be engaged in painful, deep, and
honest dialogue; otherwise, we cannot hope for the Beloved
Community, as envisioned by God, to emerge among us.

May we who are angered, disgusted, saddened, disillusioned, and ready
to give up on an institution that once nourished us remember that our faith
is in a lavish God who craves a relationship with us and offers us the fullness of life promised by the Holy One who gave his life
and death for us.

Suggested Actions:

We invite parishioners to gather in large and/or small groups to share
openly and honestly the pain, hurt, and mistrust you are feeling, and
together find creative ways to bring about healing and reconciliation.

We invite regional and local Pax Christi chapters to facilitate the above
conversations in their areas.

We also invite Catholic organizations to advocate, facilitate, and
encourage such dialogues.

16 thoughts on “CAN A CHURCH BETRAYED BECOME A CHURCH REDEEMED?

    1. The Church has 2 parts: human where humans can mess things up as they have in all places and times but the Church is also the Body of Christ and Jesus remains with it through thick and thin but He will not step in and replace free will. To me the Eucharist is the center of the Church and my life. No matter what the humans in the Church do I cannot walk away from the Eucharist. I would only hurt myself.

    2. Hello–

      I respect what you are trying to do but need to say that I and many, many people with whom I have spoken in the last few days, all of us observant Catholics, are done with listening to the endless professions of remorse from church officials rendered hypocritical when balanced against any real correction, improvement, or admissions of responsibility. Unless there are major changes to the structure of the church, nothing will change and ever more Catholics will leave in sadness, disgust, disappointment and/or anger. . Priesthood needs to be completely revised and open to women as well as to married persons both male and female. Clericalism has to be eliminated in ALL of its manifestations. Mandatory celibacy needs to be eliminated as well. Top down hierarchical leadership must be, at a minimum, severely curtailed. As a 68 year old cradle Catholic woman, I tried for far too long to justify the structure. No more. We have a major scandal –caused by a flawed system–and not speaking out/demanding change risks our being complicit. Thank you.

      1. Thank you, Margaret-you have expressed my feelings exactly. I am an abuse victim from 1960, when I was just 5 years old. Those horrific acts & the pain were buried deep in my psyche until I was 48 yrs old! The came screaming out in 2002 when the scandal first broke for real… These new developments have ripped open my wounds, body, soul & spirit!! How can I remain after so much CONTINUED deception & cover up. I am wrestling…

  1. Scipture passages in the Old Testmant speak about the process of purifying Israel. Indeed, they point to getting at the very root of the problem. In 2002 the Boston Globe broke the story of what was transpiring in the Church. While many efforts were made to address a situation that had long been known before the story in the Globe, the most recent 2018 uncovering indicates that the Church most go much deeper to truly be cleansed of these evil sins.

  2. Does Pax Christi envision a dialogue that can possibly lead to some healing and reconciliation involving honest and open conversation about the systemic violence at play in the patriarchal institutional Church? In particular, does Pax Christi envision conversation that includes discussion about the very real possibility that the Holy Spirit is inviting the Church to reevaluate AND actively change gender and celibacy requirements for ordination into the priesthood?

  3. This is an answer to my feelings. Last Sunday our pastor talked to the Spanish Mass congregation to which I belong, about the situation that you describe in this article. His message was not very clear (at least not for me). He talked about the need to forgive and to ask forgiveness, never about the responsibility of the Church as an institution and the ministers that govern it – bishops, cardinals, even the Pope, and about our responsibility to denounce to authorities whenever we learn about any one complaining about this atrocities. I was very upset and angry as I felt that the homily was not honest and was directed to people who knew very little.

  4. I have tears in my eyes reading your beautiful statement. The anger I was holding in my heart is gone. Thank you, Pax Christi, for all you have done and are doing to bring peace and justice to us all. God bless you.

  5. Thank you for your awareness, compassion, & having the integrity to speak out. We, the people, have been
    betrayed by many institutions. The Church is only one. Many Catholics have deeply inspired me yet I have
    trouble with the Church due to much of its history (e.g. Inquisition). I have to remember that the Church is a
    social institution created by man. My faith is in God.

  6. Many decades ago, I left the convent because our mother superior was sexually abusing young nuns. I failed to succeed in getting any reply to my concerns from the diocese or the Vatican. Please recognize that sexual abuse in the Catholic Church goes beyond the local parish priest.

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