It seems that every day network news scrolls tell of some new outrage perpetuated by aberrant priests, a diocese declaring bankruptcy because of restitution paid to an ever increasing number of victims. Anti-Catholic bias is now mainstream. Witness the hate bender generated by willfully malicious hawking of the Covington High School incident at the Lincoln Memorial last month.
In this miasma of discord, two conspicuously wrong impressions become fused among ordinary Catholics: priests and their bureaucrat overseers are identified as the Church. Invariably, loss of faith follows.
Catholics everywhere express their sorrow over the scandal that assails them today. But it is the scandal and those who are culpable we denounce, not the faith. And not the Church. Crashing spiritual doubt can follow in the wake of these disasters. But it is a pitiable thing to read that people express their reluctance to go on attending Mass, or even whether to continue being Catholic.
Deviants in a collar and their scarlet-conscious, over-dressed careerist superiors - too many of them disingenuous casuists - are not the Church. The priests and bishops faithful to their vocations are. People in the pews are. People lined up for confession are. People quietly reciting a rosary. Faith is immutable.
Let us unhesitatingly reaffirm our belief and our absolute confidence in the Church's ultimate good, and our place at its center.
These are dark times, another nadir in the Church's long history which has witnessed other epochs of equal, or greater catastrophe. Overcoming exceptional moral crises then and now ultimately renews and strengthens. The only thing to do at this time is say our prayers, live a faithful life and rejoice in community.
From time to time, part of being Catholic is to become a target and a laughing stock, but the Church is forever our home.