It’s not pleasant being a Catholic right now. There seems to be no perspective, no sense of reality in the Press’ unrelenting attacks on the Catholic church and, therefore, on me. What is hard to understand is the way the Press, whether TV, radio or print seems either unwilling or unprepared to use the journalistic skills with which it prides itself and actually discover and tell the truth. There can be no denying that terrible things have been done to minors by a relative few, and that compared to society, that proportion is not very high; but the Church does not deal in relativism, and every priest or religious who abused and every bishop who covered up cannot hide behind statistics as the secular world does: The fact is that the Church corporately over time has failed in many ways, but there is more to this present furore, and the press’ inability to think logically, than the cases presented to us now.
What is ignored, blatantly, by the press and much of the public, is that the overwhelming majority of these cases date from decades ago. That’s not to say that abuse does not happen now, human nature is a wily thing, and those who prey on the vulnerable are even more so, but the Catholic church’s child protection policies and procedures are some of the most robust in the world. Scratch the surface, and you can see that those pushing this agenda, and I do not mean the victims themselves, are engaged in repetitive distortion and mis-selling of the facts and are committing their own kind of exploitation and abuse of the vulnerable.
What is also ignored is that Pope Benedict is, actually, one of the good guys – it was he who as Cardinal Ratzinger started the reform of the way the church dealt with allegations of child abuse. But the secular world does not want to see this, it wants to see the Catholic church brought down – a peg or two if not completely. It sees the Pope as an enemy of the secularised western way and always has done. Time after time, at Regensburg, over condoms in Africa, over SSPX, and now the press has twisted and rewritten facts until they bear little relation to the reality. To them, he is the enemy.
One only has to read the comments on many of the news blogs to see the seething, pathological hatred which exists for the church and its leaders; diatribes which in many other circumstances and with other faiths would have Mr Plod arriving on the doorsteps of the writer, go unchallenged and are accepted as fair comment. They are not, They are, in many cases, warped, hate filled bile. Sadly too, there are those in the church who have axes to grind with the present Holy Father who have also been using the current situation to their own advantage; the liberal agenda which has warped and diluted the Faith of Our Fathers for so long has been halted in its unrelenting thirst for watery compromise and it is not happy. There is nothing as illiberal as a liberal; their time for revenge is here, and they are going to use it.
So where do I stand? I stand with a church that has itself stood for two millenia against the tempests of time. It has seen nations come and go, it has seen empires rise and fall, it has gathered and lost great temporal power and wealth and it has reformed itself time and again when it has felt itself edge too far into the word of man and away from the Glory of God. It has at times been used by wicked men in the furtherance of their own agendas and it has been responsible for uncountable acts of self-sacrifice and love. It is God’s Church, the Bride of Christ and though many wish to see her destroyed, it will not happen.
So I stand humble, but proud to be a Catholic. I will pray for those who have suffered and I will weather the storm. As will the Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against her.
Faith of Our Fathers, we will love both friend and foe in all our strife, and preach thee too, as love knows how, by kindly word and virtuous life.