‘Who pays?’

| Father Charles Lachowitzer | July 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

There has been much discussion concerning the settlement reached in the reorganization of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as a corporate entity. As Catholics, we know that the “archdiocese” is a reality much greater than the definitions of civil law. Yet, at every level of the Church, there is the question, “Who pays?”

Father Charles Lachowitzer

Father Charles Lachowitzer

There are a lot of details in the settlement that identify different sources of the total amount of dollars. The legal process under the federal laws governing a bankruptcy proceeding is highly complex and linear. In short, it is not completely done, and until it is, there are still a lot of questions begging for future answers.

Some answer the question, “Who pays?” with a finger of blame that is an understandable reaction. The anger is justified, and it is a relatively common reaction to want someone to blame, and that whoever is to blame should be made to pay.

The deeper truth is that when there is enough blame to go around to cover all aspects of Church and society, there is a greater systemic evil than any one person could have known or imagined. This is not to excuse the individual responsibility of priests who have engaged in abusive conduct. They have been removed from active ministry and reported to authorities. This is also not to excuse those leaders who must be held accountable. Hindsight may point out mistakes, failures and lessons learned the hard way. Nonetheless, it has fallen upon us in this day and time to know how painfully we have come to an open-eyed awareness of one of the most tragic ills in societies around the world.

For many of us who have an awareness of the critical need to listen to the stories of the victims of child sexual abuse by members of the clergy, also falls the burden and the responsibility to do something about it and be part of the solution. No, we are not the ones to blame. Yes, we are the ones who can work toward restitution, reconciliation and much healing.

Through the difficult stories of victims and survivors and their willingness to help the Church reform its processes and commit resources for the safety of children, we can no longer be blind, deaf and voiceless. We have seen the survivors and heard their stories. We must be voices on their behalf, and we know we have a long road ahead, beyond bankruptcy, to continue our work with the survivor community. There are also many silent sufferers who we will never know or hear from. They, too, are listening for our voices. We all have a role in the ongoing efforts to be instruments of healing and guardians of safety for all our children.

When there is a tsunami in nature, there is the devastation of life and property. Blame and anger are futile. People from near and far pitch in to rebuild lives, homes and communities.

Then there are the tsunamis of human nature. Waves of scandal devastate lives and destroy trust. The aftermath does not so readily produce the mobilization of agencies and volunteers to rebuild and restore. Eventually, however, blame and anger alone are futile. It is a clear example of the meaning of “anachronistic” to take today’s awareness and blame the blindness of the past. At some point, we must learn from the past, move beyond the anger and blame and, each in our own way, pitch in to rebuild lives and restore trust.

The sacrifice of a greater love in the face of great evil is given its meaning and purpose in the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus, innocent and without blame, paid for all sins for all time. By our baptism, we enter into the death of Christ in order to rise with him to newness of life. By our participation in the mission of the Church to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every land and every life, we are a light in every darkness and a sign of hope in all circumstances. We all know what it is like to confront the powers of sin with the greater power of Christ’s mercy and forgiveness. We are called as disciples of Jesus Christ to follow his teachings and imitate his life.

From this point of view, when the question is asked, “Who pays?” the answer is simply: We all do.

¿Quien paga?

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Category: Only Jesus