In the past few days, a notorious international terrorist with way more than nine lives has been spared yet again, another suicide bombing attack occurred in Israel, a terrorist bombing rocked the city of Kaspiisk, Russia, and back in the US, we captured our own mailbox bomber.
Meanwhile, even after admitting that he knowingly transferred pedophiles from one parish to another, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston still refuses to resign.
Exactly what do terrorist bombings, flawed politics, and a whacked out 21-year-old mailbox perp have to do with the crisis in the Church?
Catholics traditionally take comfort in the divide between the World and the Church. In a sense, the Church is a haven from the problems of the world–at least temporarily. The beautiful devotions, written over the millennia, and the Mass, provide solace to countless believers. So when a prince of the Church not only is a focus of scandal, but displays pride and arrogance that would make Bill Clinton blush, we are reminded every single day that the World has invaded the Church.
While there have been scandals and crises in the Church before, great saints have also appeared, at just the right time. We remember St. Catherine of Siena during the Great Schism (1378-1417) when there was controversy over the true succession to the papacy. We remember St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier during the Reformation. Are we to expect such a champion to appear in Boston any day soon?
Clearly far more in love with the red hat, than with God or His Church, Law has become, sadly, a faithless bureaucrat, completely out of touch with his flock, and blithely unconcerned with the damage–spiritual and financial–that he is causing. Whatever scenario you would care to construct, that he was misled by subordinates, that someone has something on him that prevented him from cleaning up the archdiocese, he should now resign and do public penance.
Bernard Law should be reminded that the Council of Constance, convened in 1414, which resolved the Great Schism, was convoked by Gregory XII, the true Roman pontiff. Yet, it was the same Gregory XII, who freely resigned his office, for the good of the Church, when he vacated the chair of St. Peter, allowing a new papal election. With this, the schism ended. Gregory XII had resigned the papacy, and had done nothing wrong.
Although Law has few defenders at this point, one priest did appear on Bill O’Reilly’s radio show, a couple of days ago, with a novel theory. How do we know, the priest asked, that the Holy Spirit is not guiding Law’s actions? After all, special graces are granted to such high church officials.
O’Reilly seemed at a loss for words, but I’m not. Let’s assume that there IS a grand divine plan underway to create a massive schism in the Church over this scandal, for whatever reason. This hardly means that individual sinful actions are inspired by the Spirit. Law, like any other man, has free will, and he made his choices. If that weren’t enough, his lack of repentance surely puts him at odds with the Spirit.
Some will claim to “lose their faith” because of this scandal, but no one really loses his faith. Rather, he throws it away. Faith is a gift from God, and has nothing whatsoever to do with Bernard Law, or any other mere mortal. To claim otherwise is idolatry.
If anything, we Catholics must try to be less influenced than ever by the World. Fortunately, with the media always emphasizing what is wrong with the world, it becomes easier to eschew this negative influence. Finally! A silver lining.
Still, I wouldn’t mind hearing from a saintly leader in our midst, about now.