Is The Catholic Church Worth Fighting For?
The United States clergy is under attack. The Attorney General of Pennsylvania presented a report detailing instances of child sexual abuse committed by certain Catholic priests. They also accused the church authorities including the Vatican for covering up these immoral acts. A letter accusing Pope Francis and other previous popes for failing to act on this grave misconduct have been published in the National Catholic Register and other websites reporting about the Catholic Church. The author of such letter called for the vicar to resign from his post. Many priests faced these charges. The horrific news set the alarm for the Catholic faithful in the Americas.
Bishop Robert Barron expresses his sentiments about the sexual abuse crisis of the American clergy in his YouTube channel. He cries out to all the Catholic faithful. Do not leave the Catholic Church in the middle of this crisis. Stand up and fight for what you believe in. The bishop explains, "We are not Catholics because of the moral excellence of our leaders. I mean, God helps us if we were. We want our leaders and we expect our leaders to be morally excellent but we are not Catholics because of that moral excellence. We are Catholics because of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead." The Catholic Church is the mystical body of Christ and it remains that way even if its leaders are not morally excellent.
But not all people can relate to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic clergy. In the Philippines, the clergy is untouchable and highly esteemed. The people love their priests and bishops so much that they always put them in places of honor during banquets and festivals. In fact, the Archdiocese of Cebu Commission on the Laity just recently organized a special day of thanksgiving for priests. Banquets were simultaneously celebrated in the different parishes of the Archdiocese to honor the priests for their committed service to the parish. Filipino Catholics seem to hold so much debt of gratitude to their priests and bishops.
It's easy for Filipinos to remain in the Catholic Church and honor the clergy despite so many scandals surrounding them because they were born with this mindset. Catholicism is part of the Filipino culture and history. Although there are some who had swayed away from the Catholic tradition a majority of the Filipino population remains Catholic. The Philippines is predominantly Catholic. It would be patriotic for the Filipinos to fight for their Catholic faith. It is like fighting for their national identity.
The sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic clergy is a crisis of faith for the American Catholic because many of them were converted protestants. Perhaps they owe their conversion to the moral excellence of some priest or bishop who inspired them to join the Catholic Church. Just like the Filipinos during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines, their faith also depended on the clergy. They look up to these priests and bishops for their spiritual growth. It's frustrating to see them commit such fatal error.
So, how to overcome this crisis of faith? Perhaps the American Catholic can learn from their Filipino counterparts. Be grateful for the gift of faith that those priests and bishops have shared with them and pray for them that they may remain steadfast in faith and become true disciples of Jesus Christ.