Pope Benedict XVI: April 2010 Archives
The papacy of Benedict will be marked in history as one that attended to the recovery of the sacred and the beautiful. Recall some of the words he spoke at his inaugural Mass as Pontiff:
"It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God. It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God's joy which longs to break into the world."
Pope Benedict XVI
Homily at the Mass for the Inauguration of the Pontificate, 2005
This coming Monday is the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Communion and Liberation is encouraging people to attend Mass, pray a Rosary, or attend Eucharistic Adoration on that day to pray for the Holy Father, in thanksgiving for his witness to Christ.
The following letter is from Father Julián Carrón, the President of Communion and Liberation, sent to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica (April 4, 2010).
Let Us Return, Wounded, to Christ
Father Julián Carrón
None of us has ever been as dismayed as we are in front of the heart-wrenching story of child abuse. Our dismay arises from our inability to respond to the demand for justice which springs from the bottom of our hearts.+The request to assume responsibility, the acknowledgement of the evil committed, the reprimand for the mistakes made in the handling of the affair - all of this seems to us to be totally inadequate as we face this sea of evil. Nothing seems to be enough. And so we can understand the frustrated reactions that have been coming forth at this time.
This has all served the purpose of making us stand face to face with our demand for justice, acknowledging that it is limitless, bottomless - as deep as the wound itself. Since it is infinite, it can never be satisfied. So the dissatisfaction, impatience and even the disillusionment of the victims are understandable, even after all the injuries and mistakes have been admitted: nothing can satisfy their thirst for justice. It's like entering into an endless struggle. From this point of view, the ones who committed the abuse are paradoxically facing a challenge similar to that of the victims: nothing can repair the damage that has been done. This in no way means that their responsibility can be lifted, and much less the verdict that justice may impose upon them; it would not be enough even if they were to serve the maximum sentence.
If this is the case, then the most burning question, which no one can escape, is as simple as it is unavoidable: "Quid animo satis?" What can satisfy our thirst for justice? This is where we begin to feel all our powerlessness, so powerfully expressed in Ibsen's Brand: "Answer me, God, in the jaws of death: Is there no salvation for the Will of Man? No small measure of salvation?" In other words, cannot the whole force of human will succeed in bringing about the justice that we so long for?
This is why even those who demand it most, those who are most insistent in calling for justice, will not be loyal to the depth of their nature with its demand for justice if they do not face this incapacity that they share with all men. Were we not to face it, we would fall prey to an even crueler injustice, to a veritable assassination of our humanity, because in order to keep on crying out for the justice that we formulate according to our own measurement, we have to silence the voice of our hearts, thus forgetting the victims and abandoning them in their struggle.
It is the Pope who, paradoxically, in his disarming boldness, has not fallen prey to reducing justice to any sort of human measure. To begin with, he admitted without hesitation the gravity of the evil committed by priests and religious, urged them to accept their responsibility for it, and condemned the way certain bishops in their fear of scandal have handled the affair, expressing his deep dismay over what had happened and taking steps to ensure that it not happen again. But then, he expressed his full awareness that this is not enough to respond to the demand that there be justice for the harm inflicted: "I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated." Likewise, even if the perpetrators serve their sentences, repent, and do penance, it will never be enough to repair the damage they did to the victims and to themselves.
Benedict XVI's recognition of the true nature of our need, of our struggle, is the only way to save our full demand for justice; it is the only way to take it seriously, to take it fully into consideration. "The demand for justice is a need that is proper to man, proper to a person. Without the possibility of something beyond, of an answer that lies beyond the existential modalities that we can experience, justice is impossible... If the hypothesis of a 'beyond' were eliminated, that demand would be unnaturally suffocated" (Father Giussani).
So how did the Pope save this demand? By calling on the only one who can save it, someone who makes the beyond present in the here and now, namely, Christ, the Mystery made flesh. "Jesus Christ ... was Himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, He still bears the wounds of His own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church."
Calling on Christ is not a way to seek a hiding place to run off to in the face of the demand for justice: it is the only way to bring justice about. The Pope calls upon Christ, and steers clear of a truly dangerous shoal, that of distancing Christ from the Church, as if the Church were too full of filth to be able to bear Him. The Protestant temptation is always lurking. It would have been very easy to give in to, but at too high a price - that of losing Christ. Because, as the Pope recalls, "it is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ." And so, aware of the difficulty both the victims and the guilty have "to forgive or be reconciled with the Church," he dares to pray that, by drawing near to Christ and sharing in the life of the Church, they "will come to rediscover Christ's infinite love for each one of you," since He is the only one able to heal their wounds and rebuild their lives.
This is the challenge facing all of us who are incapable of finding an answer for our sins and for the sins of others: agreeing to take part in Easter, which we celebrate during these days, as the only way to see the re-blossoming of hope.
The picture one is getting in the press today of Pope Benedict is that of an out-of-touch old man in 3000 miles away. Somehow from what is commonly known and personally experienced of Benedict XVI, I don't quite think the editors of the NY Times and other press agencies have it right, much less some scheming lawyers trying to make as much money off the sexual abuse crisis. I sometimes wonder if the newspapers and legal profession comprehend reality as it is presented or if fiction is the only genre worth digesting in their diets.
Bishop William Lori offers another view of the Pope, and he outlines some interesting facts of the clergy sex abuse industry and what the Church actually did in an article titled, "The Holy Father I Know."
Jesus told us to ask His Father for that which we need because we radically depend on Him. We are bold to bring to God the Father, in the name of Jesus, under the power of the Holy Spirit, the following needs that Pope Benedict named for the Church:
The general intention
That every tendency to fundamentalism and extremism may be countered by constant respect, by tolerance and by dialogue among all believers.
The missionary intention
That Christians persecuted for the sake of the Gospel may persevere, sustained by the Holy Spirit, in faithfully witnessing to the love of God for the entire human race.