Proposition #1. Innocence transgressed is irreversible. #2. Virginity undone cannot be regained. #3 Sacredness defiled cannot it be recovered -- or can it? Number 3 is moot (disputed) while numbers 1 & 2 are factual. What most ails the Church in this time is violated sacredness. It is the spiritual equivalent of rape, a terrible invasion of a precinct that must be strenuously guarded against assault. What is today labeled the "abuse crisis" in the Church is a yet-unfolding story, the apex of which, I fear, has not yet been hit. It has taken "victims" not only in the sense of the persons abused but also in the faithful whose consciences have been seared by the disclosure of what had been done behind closed doors. The outcry and outrage over the discovery is just and right but is partially misdirected. This may be evident by responses to the scandal by various diocesan bureaucrats who obsequiously pledge approval and cooperation with civil authorities to bring down those accused; who offer hollow, formulaic apologies to the victims; who are more concerned over the threat of bankruptcy than over God being offended by the sins and crimes committed; who in a desperate move to avert any accusation for their own wrongdoing mandate the 'training' of all diocesan personnel to protect children from abuse but who refrain from identifying abusers as perverted or mentally ill.
The real shame is not the publicity of horrid, secret sins but the venting of lewd passion, the foul degradation of the flesh, the mortal sins committed, the extinction of God's grace, the subversion of conscience, the loss of a sense of guilt, and the vanquished sacredness from priests, from the Mass, the Sacraments and sacred rites. Where did the holiness go? In truth, it had been slowly seeping out of clergy (and not a few lay people) and out of seminaries and parishes for a long time, so subtly that it was scarcely noticed.
Yes, the evils done and publicized are horrible. Why, though, was there no protest "back then" when Catholic doctrine was deliberately suppressed in CCD programs and Catholic schools; when teaching about the commandments and forbidden acts was outlawed; when chastity, in marriage and outside marriage, were taboo topics; when sex-ed programs for youth were introduced that stung their innocent souls and extinguished their spiritual sensitivities? Why was there little indignation over priests' secular clothing, their unbecoming manner of talking and worldly behaviors? Where was the sacredness? At one time it was nearly tangible. Where did it go and with it the fear of the Lord, modesty, and priestly dignity?
When sacredness fled so did its abiding companion, wisdom. "Truths are diminished from the sons of men" (Ps. 11, Vulgate). The departure of holiness from clergy (and laity) meant the loss of wisdom so that we don't even know how to respond to this crisis. We've become foolish, unable to analyze why we have come to this disgrace. This ignorance is itself a punishment for the sins committed.
In recent decades the Church has been run more like a corporation or a business than a divine organism intended for man's salvation. Its policies and rhetoric have resembled civil law and echoed popular opinion more than the Gospel of Christ. Its models and mentors have not been the saints of her illustrious history but CEOs, business men, psychologists, and lawyers. Its greatest concerns have been financial viability and growth; its successes measured in numbers; its worship directed not to God but to the enjoyment of the attendees. The eternal and irrevocable consequences of mortal sins -- to say nothing of the now ubiquitous sins that "cry out to God for vengeance," which include abortion, sodomy, and causing scandal to children, are terra ignota in preaching and religious instruction.
What's been wrong with the Church in our time such that it brought on the said crisis? Pope Benedict indicated that the moral lapses of the clergy brought on a reticence to witness clearly and forecefully to moral truth.
Once trespassed, can sacredness be recovered? Only God knows; but with a return to unambiguous teaching on faith and morals, the foundation will be laid for a restoration of a sacredness that's been sorely missing from the Church for a very long time.
Sunday, June 30, 2019
Fr. Perrone: can lost innocence, virginity, or sacredness be regained?
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, June 2, 2019):