With recent news exposing the Catholic Church’s cover-up of the sexual abuse of over 1,000 minors in Pennsylvania and mishandling of the abusive Cardinal Theodore McCarrick—which allegedly worked its way up to Pope Francis himself—Catholics worldwide are demanding that their spiritual leaders discipline those involved in the abuse cover-up and promise such corruption will never happen again.
The obvious priority for the Catholic Church should be to find out the truth about who exactly knew of the abuse, when they learned about it, and how they covered it up; then purging all those involved. Although countering this crisis should not stop there.
The Catholic Church cannot effectively fight evil by simply purging the evildoers. As St. Augustine often argued, evil is a “privation of good.” Therefore, when we discover evil within the Church, we must reflect on where and why there is a lack of goodness, at both the institutional and individual level.
Institutionally, as we previously knew and recently learned more of, leadership within the Catholic Church has covered up the abuse of minors by priests. Meanwhile, seminaries consist of rampant homosexual activity.
These sinful actions from Church leaders obviously contradict Catholic teachings, but as Timothy P. Carney notes in the Washington Examiner, that doesn’t necessarily mean the abusers within the Church are hypocrites.
Carney argues that the sexual predators in the Church cannot possibly be hypocrites because they refuse to even promote Church teachings on sexuality.
“[T]he Catholic Church in America — in my experience — spends very little time articulating, justifying, or insisting on its teachings about human sexuality,” Carney writes. “So little time, in fact, that most people, Catholic or not, don’t know what the Church teaches.”
Catholic Church teachings are a divine goodness given to us through the Holy Spirit — and there’s a privation of this goodness in the modern Church.
How many Catholics can say they’ve heard their local pastor preach about the importance of Catholic teachings on sexuality recently? Sexual topics are never easy to discuss, but judging the sexual corruption within the modern Church, these crucial teachings are certainly worthy of more attention.
How many Catholics know who wrote Humanae Vitae and can accurately explain what it’s about? After all, July marked the encyclical’s 50th birthday.
This is where the issue comes to the individual level. Catholics should never rely entirely on Church leaders for spiritual guidance. We as individuals are responsible for educating ourselves on the importance of Church teachings so that we can live out the faith that Jesus calls us to share with the world.
If Catholics want to prevent future scandals from breaking out in the Church, we, along with our spiritual leaders, need to dedicate ourselves to its teachings. We should never be ashamed of our beliefs. Rather, we should cling to the truth of Christ’s Church — and live it out while rejoicing in the goodness of God’s love.