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The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church

I am writing this from afar…at the very northern tip of Wisconsin, in sub-zero weather.  I have been called away for a family death and funeral. However, I had, full of hope, very much wanted to address the results of the 4-day Papal Meeting with the 114 International Episcopal (or Bishop’s) Conference presidents. The meeting concluded in Rome, last Sunday, as I received tragic news of the family death. Originally called to address the international scourge of clerical sexual abuse by Church hierarchy, the agenda was surprisingly diluted to instead… re-address clergy abuse of minors and eliminated any focus on the urgent need to eradicate the significant long standing homosexual subculture. I will, to eliminate any personal opinion, relate some of the assessments provided by Edward Pentin, Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register, a publication service of EWTN.

The attending Conference presidents mostly welcomed the meeting’s outcome and the rare opportunity to discuss face-to-face these issues from a global perspective. However, in addition to abuse survivors’ disappointment regarding a focus on holding bishops fully accountable, others were also disillusioned by what they saw as the meeting’s failure to adequately tackle root causes beyond blaming such abuse on “clericalism.” The meaning and nature of sin was hardly raised, they observed; neither were breaches of the moral law, lack of trust in God’s grace, the serious problem of homosexuality, especially in the clergy, the procedures of episcopal appointments and the role of the bishops. Also omitted was what some see as the chief underlying cause of abuse: a collapse in upholding the Church’s moral doctrine, especially when it comes to sexuality and chastity.

Many others were disappointed, angry or frustrated with the meeting’s outcome. Victim-survivor groups largely viewed the event as not radical enough and a deflection from effectively preventing abuse, achieving real accountability and ending a cover-up culture in the Church. U.S. Bishops Conference representative, Cardinal DiNardo, stressed the need to establish specific “protocols for handling accusations against bishops, user-friendly reporting mechanisms, and the essential role that transparency must play in the healing process.” Achieving these goals, he stated, requires “the active involvement and collaboration of the laity.” The Church needs their prayers, expertise and ideas.

Three bishops said they tried to raise the issue of homosexuality in the working groups but were unable to mention the issue or “get it through,” according to one of them, because they had to “stay focused” on the issue of child protection. This was despite a widespread view, noted by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller and others, that over 80% of clerical sex abuse was being perpetrated by males on male teenagers (homosexuality) in the U.S. and parts of Europe.

Observers also noted that the majority of testimonies were from women, apparently to avoid what some have called “the pink elephant in the room” – which is the topic of active homosexual priests and a subculture of homosexuality in seminaries and other Church institutions. Cardinal Brandmüller said this is a “terrible problem” but believed discussion of homosexuality was suppressed, as it would have “become dangerous” for the organizers due to the “evident” existence of homosexual networks in the Vatican. While certainly disappointing, others have stressed that the summit is just the beginning and that, according to Archbishop Charles Scicluna (who took a leading role in preparing the meeting), the meeting’s follow-up would be its most significant aspect. The Church is a “huge ship,” said Fr. Hans Zollner (one of the meeting preparers), and to “change her course takes a lot of effort and energy” that will need longer than a “couple of months.”

Disappointing, certainly. But Hope springs eternal! Concerned clergy and laity (which should include you and me) need to stay the course and insist on a purge of all vestiges of predatory homosexuality in the clergy, top to bottom. We cannot turn a deaf ear or put our heads in the sand. That’s how this scourge has flourished these past several decades. The “Smoke of Satan”, overwhelming in the culture at large, has grown to a point just shy of suffocation in our beloved Church, as well. The “Smoke of Satan” and the “Gates of Hell” shall not prevail against His Church, Christ has promised us. But…but…our silence is not golden. He told us through St. Faustina Kowalska, that our luke-warmness, our ambivalence, makes Him want to vomit us out of His mouth. Let us confidently be part of the solution.

Yours, confident in Surrender to Him, His Teachings, His Truth,