The tragic abuse inflicted upon thousands of children and their families by leaders within the Catholic Church calls for a response that the church seems incapable of taking. Perhaps the telling of the terrible story in the enquiry just announced by the Victorian Government might prompt some new thinking
If I were a Catholic I would feel profound shame at the betrayal by my church’s leadership. This betrayal involves both those who committed the crimes, and those who used their power to protect them, enabling them, in many cases, to continue to rape and injure children.
The leaders of the Catholic Church should immediately declare a decade of lamentation and repentance, during which they would lead their people in praying for victims and their families, seek that the perpetrators of these crimes be brought to justice, and lament the failure of leadership and the betrayal of the gospel.
Even a decade may not be long enough. The time needs to drag like a great weight, reminding the church of the unrelenting pain of those who suffer because of the crimes committed in its name.
A decade into the process the church might then begin to ask difficult questions about its life and witness. Having destroyed any credibility it once had in moral leadership, it needs to determine how it can best be a truly loving and healing community, what its gospel message should be, and what might need to be discarded as no longer being of use.
It might even decide to enter more fully into the life of Jesus by allowing itself to die in order that the Spirit might give birth to something truly new. Facing death calls for vision and courage, but when sacrifice is valued ahead of preservation, then we will know that Jesus and his message are being served.
(I feel a bit presumptuous writing this, but some might find it helpful)