Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Jeremiah 2010-13; John 10:31-42)
Very recently the Catholic Church in Germany has been rocked by a clerical abuse scandal. Over one hundred victims have come forth claiming that they were sexually molested by priests. As the president of the German episcopal conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, admitted, sexual abuse is a heinous crime. It is especially outrageous within the ranks of the Catholic Church because she preaches restraint of passions and because priests take a public vow of celibacy.
In today’s gospel Jesus provides the basis for our redoubled effort to avoid scandal. He tells his persecutors that they are to believe because of the works that he performs. Because all Christians are part of Christ’s body, Jesus implies here that we also are to draw non-Christians to belief by our actions.
The Church bows its head in shame for all the sexual abuse of children that has come to the surface in recent years. Accordingly, Archbishop Zollitsch apologized to all the victims. However, the Church hopes that objective reviewers will not lose confidence in her divine commission. Over the years and still today the Church has given a tremendous testimony to charity. She has raised no doubt tens of millions of children in orphanages, educated probably hundreds of millions in her schools, provided spiritual guidance to billions of people through her preaching, and administered divine assistance to similar numbers in the sacraments. Normal human frailty can account for the abuse, which nevertheless must not be tolerated. Can anything but God’s own authorization be attributed to this record of accomplishment?