But let no one protest, let no one complain; with you is my grievance, O priests! You shall stumble in the day, and the prophets shall stumble with you at night; I will destroy your mother. My people perish for want of knowledge! Since you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from my priesthood; Since you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your sons. One and all they sin against me, exchanging their glory for shame. They feed on the sin of my people, and are greedy for their guilt. The priests shall fare no better than the people: I will punish them for their ways, and repay them for their deeds. They shall eat but not be satisfied, they shall play the harlot but not increase, Because they have abandoned the LORD to practice harlotry. Old wine and new deprive my people of understanding. Hosea 4:4-11

How these words ring true today! As I read the news which is surfacing I find myself growing more and more angry and more and more saddened. I struggle to focus my anger in the right directions, but it is hard. I love the Church and I am watching is being destroyed from the inside and the outside. Satan is having a field day, he found his way in and waited for it to all come to pass. Where have the good men been? Wasn’t there anyone with the nerve to put a stop to all this?

I am angry that these atrocities could be committed by men who professed faith and obedience. They were counted among the very men who should be our shepherds but they turned out to be wolves. There is no excuse for these crimes and they are particularly heinous when they were committed in the name of Christ and His Church. How can a priest dare to use his hands, which have been anointed and set apart for the Eucharist, to then go an abuse a child?

I am angry that the bishops and others who were responsible for protecting the flock from these wolves failed. They had a responsibility to defend the weakest members of society, but like the priests in the quote from Hosea, they were more concerned with themselves. Their priorities were all wrong!

I am angry that so often the law enforcement authorities gave abusers a free pass. The police are paid to uphold the law no matter a person’s social status.

I am angry that the media is making it look as though this is a Catholic problem. It isn’t! It isn’t even mostly a Catholic problem. Protestant churches have just as many or even more abuses cases against their clergy.

I am angry that good priests are suffering and are looked at with suspicion. Most priests are good and holy men who have been greviously harmed by being associated with evil men who used the gift of the priesthood as a means to commit and get away with abusing children.

I am angry that priests who have been falsely accused have virtually no recourse. Once accused they are finished. The Church pretty much abandons them and leaves them to fend for themselves. They become double victims.

I am angry that the Church is doing such a poor job at responding to these reports. They need to be upfront and give messages that actually say something.

I am angry that I need to devote so much of precious time that the children come for religious education classes teaching them how to identify abusive situations. That shouldn’t be my job!

I am angry that seeing certain members of the hierarchy makes me feel physically ill.

I am angry that the Church is being battered. I love Christ and I love His Church. I have devoted more than half my life to service in the Church.

As we look forward to Holy Week, I am reminded of the traditional Good Friday reproaches. I imagine Christ speaking these words to us today. My people, My people what have I done to you, how have I offended you answer me!

I led you out of Egypt from slavery to freedom, but you have led your Savior, and nailed Him to a cross.

Holy is God, Holy and Strong,
Holy Immortal One , have mercy on us.

For forty years in safety, I led you through the desert, I fed you with my manna, I gave you your own land, but you have led your Savior, and nailed Him to a Cross.

Holy is God, Holy and Strong,
Holy Immortal One , have mercy on us.

O what more would you ask from me? I planted you, my vineyard, but sour grapes you gave me, and vinegar to drink, and you have pierced your Savior and pierced Him with a spear.

Holy is God, Holy and Strong,
Holy Immortal One , have mercy on us.

For you scourged your captors, their first born sons were taken, but you have taken scourges and brought them down on Me.

My people, My people what have I done to you, how have I offended you? Answer me!

From slavery to freedom I led you, drowned your captors. But I am taken captive and handed to your priests.

My people, My people what have I done to you, how have I offended you? Answer me !

Your path lay through the waters, I opened them before you, my side you have laid open and bared it with a spear.

My people, My people what have I done to you, how have I offended you? Answer me !

I led you, held securely, My fire and cloud before you, but you have led your Savior, hands bound to Pilate’s court.

My people, My people what have I done to you, how have I offended you? Answer me!

I bore you up with manna, you bore me down and scourged me. I gave you saving water, but you gave me soured wine.

My people, My people what have I done to you, how have I offended you? Answer me !

The kings who reigned in Canaan, I struck way before you. But you have struck my crowned head, and struck it with a reed.

My people, My people what have I done to you, how have I offended you? Answer me !

I gave you a royal scepter but you gave me a thorn crown. I raised you up in power, but you raised me on the Cross.

Holy is God, Holy and Strong,
Holy Immortal One , have mercy on us.

This Holy Week will be a difficult one as the Church undergoes her own Passion. Let us offer our Holy Week for the victims to receive healing, for the good and holy priests to be strengthened, and for God to have mercy on those who have committed these crimes.

This is a time of purification. I pray it ends soon but I also pray that it is complete. We need to get back to worship, faithfulness, and love of God and others.

I am deeply saddened to see Pope Benedict being dragged into this mess. I don’t understand how he could have allowed himself to be so much “out of the loop”. If I was the bishop of a diocese where there was a priest who was a known abuser I can’t imagine not being on top of it at every moment. Still, I also know that despite anything he may have done in the past, Pope Benedict gets it now. I am sure that he is very remorseful for letting these things slip by him and he has shown himself to be part of the solution.

My confusion continues and wounds that had healed have been reopened. My diocese is where it all began 20 years ago. At the time I don’t think anyone could imagine the extent of the problem. My wounds burn and my heart is broken.

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