«Custos, quid de nocte?»
Church and Pedophilia: Shifting the Focus from Morals to Truth
by Maria Guarini

In the present days, we are witnessing an abnormal, hammering smear campaign against the Church run by the media, which focus on the infamous cases of pedophilia —as it is right and necessary to do— but absolutize them, making summary, malevolent and poisonous generalizations. Obviously, we don’t deny nor minimize the gravity and the importance of this problem; we just believe that it doesn’t need the unleashing of a venomous witch-hunting, but transparent and efficient solutions, as those Benedict XVI is putting into practice.

We must not forget that —sadly— this phenomenon is present in all the spheres of our societies and it concerns the Church just in a minimal percentage of cases. Moreover, it is absolutely not linked with celibate, how it is often made believe when talking about priests. This doesn’t reduce its gravity; on the contrary, it makes it bigger, since we’re talking about people who dedicated their lives to the Lord and to the cure of the souls. However, there is a rift between what has happened and this hate campaign managed with artful aggressiveness that takes advantage of times in which the scarce sense of sacred risks to inflict a huge wound to Church and Christianity if firm and authoritative voices counteracting the accusations and placing this reality within a correct framework won’t arise. Unfortunately, neither the Curia nor Catholic medias distinguished themselves for their promptness and confutative precision in their interventions.

The issue of pedophilia in the Church seems to have become a panicking moral problem. Its numerical entity is not proportional to the way the medias describe it using bawling and often ambiguous titles, whipping the emotivity of the readers, emphasizing its dimensions with imprecisions, omissions and forced tones aimed to mud the Pope and to instill confusion in believers and non-believers alike. On the other side, there’s not even a hint of efficient reaction from the ecclesiastical fonts which should call to equilibrium and restore the exact dimensions of this phenomenon without denying its reprovable and repugnant nature.

We have to add that the generalized and excessive self-accusation, stimulated by the harsh plaints of connivence and conspiracy of silence, hide the fact that the priests-bishop relation is “a sacramental relation which generates very special links of spiritual paternity.” From the perspective of transparence and penitence pursued by Benedict XVI, the intervention of the bishop may be understood in two ways:

  • Paternal and prompt attention to the ascertained guilty, taking all the measures needed for his repentance and putting him in condition not to harm again, for the maximum security of his potential new victims.
  • Total collaboration with the civil justice.

Remember that the Church, from the point of view of the Mystery it incarnates, is not limited to its visible part and it cannot be represented only by those of its members who commit a sin. Moreover, sins cannot be detected and emphasized uniquely in the sphere of sexuality. Sadly, if we focus on:

  • the idol of careerism;
  • the blind slavery to the dominant ideologies;
  • the replacement of the cult of God —that is the Church’s primary duty and by which our personal and collective lives are enriched in the context of sane relations— by the obsession for the ‘social’;
  • the trivialization of the sacred;
  • the subservience to a theology whose core is not anymore Jesus Christ but the man, so that human ‘opinions’ acquire the power to invalidate the Catholic truth

we notice that the biggest sins are egoism and selfishness: All the others come from the ousting of the Lord and of His work of salvation.

Furthermore, this exasperated focus on morals —that pays attention to many aspects of life: e.g. the various, controversial choices in the field of bioethics— risks to divert the attention from the truths of Faith; the pastors —that is, those who should look after the Truth and spread it—are especially exposed to this temptation so that they deal mainly with morals or politics instead of sharing and defending the principles that are their Fundament. As a matter of fact, Christianity isn’t ethics: Its ethics spreads from the vital and authentic relation with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, lived faithfully, with perseverance, fostered by the sacramental life in His Church. We don’t mean to say that the members of the Church must not deal with morals or politics or that they may not talk about it: Indeed, they have to do it for the reasons that they repeatedly mention to the medias. So, theirs would be a true Announcement nurturing good life choices and conduct, not a sterile moralism inaccessible for the majority of believers.

But nowadays the very same Truth is hidden. Truth is not something we may ‘possess’ and impose over our brothers and sisters; Truth is acknowledged and received by the apostolical revelation and ‘shown’ according to what we’re allowed to ‘know’ (in a Biblical sense) and to live. Many signs make us notice —with bewilderment and perplexity— that Truth, in the adorable person of the Lord, is distorted and betrayed: Just remember the recent statements of French, Austrian and German bishops that would deserve a long confutation; just think about how many individuals announce the “new evangelization” — o “new” that it results to be “another”— in all the continents, though their loyalty to the Church is quite dubious.

In fact, a veil of silence hangs over the fundamental Truths of faith and the restoration of a sense of the sacred that would permit us to come through the anthropocentric trivialization which we are embroiled in. Those Truths are mentioned only in some of Benedict XVI’s homilies (1): No other voices are capable to enflame the hearts with a Transcendent Hope that may enter the everyday life of every believer and community, fostering and giving sense to all its manifestations. «Custos, quid de nocte?» («Watchman, what of the night?», Isaiah 21:11.)

June 13th, 2010

(1) The “rod” is needed to sanction a “conduct unworthy of the priestly life” and when “heresy is allowed to spread and the faith twisted and chipped away.” Those are the strong terms used by the Pope on june 11th, 2010 in his homily for the Mass concluding the Year for Priests, whose beginning was dedicated to the scandal of pedophilia.

“The shepherd needs the rod as protection against savage beasts ready to pounce on the flock; against robbers looking for prey,” said the Pope using the language of the psalmist. “Along with the rod there is the staff which gives support and helps to make difficult crossings. Both of these are likewise part of the Church’s ministry, of the priest’s ministry. The Church too must use the shepherd’s rod, the rod with which he protects the faith against those who falsify it, against currents which lead the flock astray. The use of the rod can actually be a service of love. Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated. Nor does it have to do with love if heresy is allowed to spread and the faith twisted and chipped away, as if it were something,” said the Pope, applauded by the priests, “that we ourselves had invented. As if it were no longer God’s gift, the precious pearl which we cannot let be taken from us. Even so, the rod must always become once again the shepherd’s staff—a staff which helps men and women to tread difficult paths and to follow the Lord.”

home |

| top |