” There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3; 22-24)
It was question in our community: “Should we talk about sins of Catholic Church, special sins of priests and members of religious communities?”. We ask also if there are more sins today that in the ancient time. Nobody has obligation to confessing sins in public. Also nobody has rights to judge others. There is tendency in Church to hiding difficult information to avoid public scandals and to protect people from loosing faith or respect to Church. However in the same moment there are five things important to good confession:
(1) Examination of Conscience; (2) Sorrow for having offended God; (3) A resolution of sinning no more; (4) Confession of our sins; (5) Satisfaction or penance.
I personally believe that there is less abuse in Church today than in the ancient time. Abuse in Church is just more known to the general public because is more difficult to hide information. Power of church is more limited and the new young priest and religious people have more pure motivation to the religious service.
I also believe that this is OK to talk about sins of the Church servants. This is not to judge anybody, but because we can learn from the mistakes of other people to avoid them in our lives. Examination of conscience can help us understand what we are doing wrong or what some of our (limited number) of members do wrong. This help us understand why it was happened and how to avoid this. We can sorrow for having offended God as a Church and make resolution to sinning no more.
Confessions of the sins is very important. Confession means full understanding and naming the sins. If sin is public or if there are many victims in the society, public apology is important. This can help understand that perpetrators are conscious about the sin and willing not to repeat this mistake again. In many cases form of compensation for the victims is also important. This showing that we are humans who respect others and taking full responsibility for our life and behavior. This make us grow as a people and help to grow others. This can help not only healing the victims but also heal all of us as a community of Church.
When I’m talking about this I have in mind one monastery in South Dakota, USA. I prefer not to mention the name of the community or name of the monk. I’m only willing to learn from this story. One of the monks (addicted to alcohol) was guilty of sexual abuse of the Native American school kids. Why it was possible? I think that reasons was following: (1) It was country monastery, away from villages and with limited contact with the world. (2) Abusive monk was sick person – means addicted to alcohol. (3) Indian children was away from home with no possibility to talk to parents (4) Rank of Native Americans has lower rank than people European origin. They was called “savage”.
What problem was solved? After victims ask for compensation the abusive monk (already in age 71) was moved to another place, away from monastery. Monastery give formal apology to the victims, but at the same moment they do everything to not to give any information to the public. Monastery was closed five years ago (in 2012) because only few old monks left and it was nobody young to join. Place was sold to group of lay Christians and serving now as a retreat center.
What we can learn from this. Sexual misconduct of priest popular in media today is really very rare in Church and less possible that in time when Church have had more power. However there is still enough power in the Church to bring harm and disaster inside and outside of the religious communities. Only the virtue of humility and other great Benedictine virtues practice with care can save us from this. Special humility is important. This is the most noble virtue which helping us respect others and attracting respect from others at the same moment. I have notice that more noble people in my life was more humble at the same moment. They just have no reason to search for nobility anymore, but was interested to serve others instead. I will learn to be more humble starting from this Easter. God help me and bless me in this resolution.
We will pray to Jesus on the cross to forgive our sins protect us from sins and give us peace this Easter and forever.
Photo of mentioned above monastery taken by author of this blog in 2016