The Church Enters Difficult Times

ABS-CBN News [Philippines]
Downloaded April 14, 2003

As we head into Holy Week, there is a greater sadness than usual that hangs over the Church. Good Friday and Jesus' fateful meeting with death takes on new meaning in these difficult days for the Church.

This has been a time of scandal that is unique to the Church in the modern age. Stories of priests and even bishops involved in various scandals have rocked and shocked the faithful. Like a virus, the scandals have spread across the globe. In America, the Church has been especially hard hit as the number of sex abuse cases multiply each week. The Church there and in other countries, (some of them staunchly Catholic) is on the defensive. Huge amounts of money have been levied against the Church in the form of fines and lawsuits. Priests have gone to jail. Bishops are hard put to reassure the people that the Church is not corrupt through and through. It surely isn't the best of times for the Church.

The seminaries are under attack for failing to better prepare its candidates for the priesthood. The priesthood itself is being questioned because of the many priests who have brought it shame.

The attacks in the media are fierce and often vicious and unfair. So much so that our confused laity are led to ask themselves what's going on? Have our leaders lost control of the situation? Is our parish priest one of the faithful ones or is he living a double life? Is celibacy going out of style? Is it truly possible to live the vows? Would I want my son to become a priest? A lot of questions and few good answers. The confusion among our people is such that they do not know where to turn to get answers. This is why they must increasingly call upon their faith to hold strong, to keep their spiritual sanity.

As the media continues to reveal new scandals, the people of God are increasingly shaken. It isn't that they were so naive as to think that their priests were sinless. They have always known that some priests were not behaving as they should. They heard rumors about too much drinking, about priests having affairs here and there. But these stories were told in whispers. When, however, all hell broke loose in the media and the scandals were broadcast all over the world, that was something else again. It was no longer a family scandal that was kept quiet and swept under the rug. Nor was the bad news isolated in a few places.

The horror of it all was that the scandals seemed to pop up everywhere. The scale of wrongdoing was such that even the most solid Catholic was forced to ask himself if it wasn't all just a terrible nightmare. It was hard to believe so much rot was to be found in so many places. Like waking up one terrible morning to find your house infested with termites and falling apart. The very scale of the scandal is what disoriented our people and shook their faith like never before.


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