NOTICE: any minors who read and are affected by this article, please talk immediately with your parents or any trusted adult about what you feel and think.
Our Lord warned us they would come–wolves dressed in wool, disguised as priests, and even as bishops, but actually minions of Satan working to deceive and sow dissent. Jesus went so far as to give us examples in Judas Iscariot, and also St. Peter (before his repentance).*
The brutally bare warnings are throughout the New Testament, but my personal fave (if there must be such) is from the repentant St. Peter himself (2 Peter 2:1-2):
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled.
The rest of the passage is even more brutal, yet this is my favorite passage on false shepherds because it comes from a man who denied our Lord, knows the terror and despair of denying Christ, and returns to the Church to strengthen us evermore as our first pope (Luke 22:31-32):
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”
This gives me hope that despite the vomit-inducing evils of some members of our Church leadership, the grace to repent and convert exists for them and for all of us sinners.
That being said, I must also clearly say that any child or young person who has been harmed in any way (mentally, physically, spiritually) by any cleric/teacher must not only inform their parents immediately, but must also report everything to police without delay–even if it happened long ago. Tragically but realistically, we can no longer only trust our Church’s authorities to protect our most vulnerable; we must also turn to civil law and authorities (yes, call 911).
After scandal after scandal, cover-up after cover-up, victim after victim, and even a full-length film, I can no longer in good conscience remain publicly silent about this filth in the Church (quoting Pope Benedict XVI). My students, the youth I mentor, and my god-children (and all adults who love them) deserve to know the truth and how to hold abusers accountable. We must not fear any threats from any abuser! Criminals frighten victims because they are afraid of what victims can do to them. Criminals actually fear victims because they do not want to face justice. Helping false shepherds keep their evils a secret only encourages their abuse to continue, and even keeps them from a chance to repent.
We must help the Church clean house. And mark my words: if any of my beloveds are abused by false shepherds and teachers, I will not hesitate to report everything to police. That is a promise to my Lord and my God, and to the little ones and to the Church that He loves.
Mother Mary, protect us and keep up close to your Son, especially those furthest from Him.
For more information on this filth, please see these articles (click author names for full statements):
- Dr. Janet Smith: It is very painful for any Catholic to learn of the shocking and immoral behavior of Cardinal McCarrick, which exploited, violated and betrayed the trust of so many young men. Even more appalling is the fact that his success in the Church reveals a continued existence of a culture within the Church that permits such behavior to take place and prevents it from coming to light. Bishops, priests, religious and laity must band together to find a way to eradicate what has been repeatedly spoken of as a network of homosexuals who abuse people and who control too much of what goes on in dioceses, orders, and even in the curia.
- Christopher R. Altieri: At a bare minimum, you must see to it that the children and young people everywhere are safe, and that vulnerable people are protected; that no seminary should become or continue to be a farm for perversion, nor any chancery or chapter a hotbed of corruption and disorder – for, so long as they are, parishes and schools and oratories cannot fail to become playgrounds for perverts. I say again: it is your duty to see, and to act – even to see and to denounce your brother bishops’ failures and misdeeds and miscarriages of duty when and where you do see them.
- JD Flynn: But when a bishop behaves with sexual immorality, the effects ripple across his entire diocese. Priests and seminarians who object to that sexual immorality leave quickly, or find themselves marginalized. Those who rise to leadership positions are those who are left: those who are willing to accept the bishop’s sexual immorality, those who are complicit in it, or those who are too naive to notice it. Those in the first two categories, being willing to accept some rejections of Catholic teaching, are usually also likely to accept other rejections of Catholic teaching. That can be reflected in their pastoral leadership and catechesis, and consequently, an entire diocese can be formed with a theological perspective framed by relativism, tolerance of immorality, or compromise. The effects of a bishop’s sexual immorality can lead to spiritual and catechetical decline across an entire diocese.
*A possible reason Jesus gave us the example of Judas and pre-repentant Peter: to show us that we are all capable of betraying and denying Him, and to rely on His grace to not fall away, and to repent if we do. Moreover: to show us that our faith, hope, and love must be in Jesus alone–not in any mere man, even if he is a priest/bishop/pope.