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The Scandal of Church Abuse

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 07, 2022

The Church is one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic. Whenever we violate these marks of the Church, we abuse the Church.

Acts of Church abuse are increasing. In 2017, Father Antonio Spadaro, an Italian Jesuit—often identified as “the Pope’s mouthpiece”—defended the theological ambiguities of Amoris Laetitia. “Theology is not mathematics,” he said, adding, “2 + 2 in theology can make 5….” This astonishing and irrational remark foreshadowed an uptick in Church abuse at the highest of ecclesial levels.

Luxembourg’s Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, a Jesuit who leads the European Catholic bishops’ conference, recently called for a change in the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. In an attack on the Church’s moral doctrine, he said, “I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this [Church teaching on homosexuality] is no longer correct.” His remarks not only condone sodomy. They reveal a contempt that logically extends to the Church’s teaching on marriage and the New and Everlasting Covenant. (So far, there are no corrections from senior Church officials. Why not?)

An assembly of the German Catholics participating in a Church synod has voted overwhelmingly to endorse a call for the ordination of women, lamenting “the exclusion of women from sacramental office.” The leadership of the so-called Synodal Path, a process supported by the Vatican, has proposed radical changes in Church doctrine and discipline. Church abuse in Germany is open and widespread, facilitated by synods.

Spoiler alert: Contrary to the heterodox pronouncements of these Church leaders, God is not our creation, and His Church is not our idea. Nobody in the Church has the authority to change God’s revelation. Nobody has the right to change the Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the nature of the Sacraments. The Church belongs to Jesus.

God reveals His Church according to His plan. After the sin of Adam and Eve, the Old Testament records God’s plan for our transformation and restoration. Emerging from humanity shattered by sin, groups of families form tribes. The Twelve Tribes of Israel form the nation of Israel. God slowly prepares Israel as the historical cradle to receive the Divine Word.

In the “fullness of time,” Jesus is born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus accelerates God’s plan for universal redemption and salvation. He calls the Twelve Apostles to replace the Twelve Tribes. Henceforth, there will be only one universal tribe: The Tribe of Jesus, and we are all brothers. The Church is born on Pentecost—the descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles. As an institution and as the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church provides the definitive structure—the Barque of Peter—healing the divisions caused by sin and guiding us to heaven.

The promises God makes to us throughout human history are irrevocable. The Church is one. She has one faith and one way: The Way of Life. The Church is holy. She is the spotless bride of Christ with Mary as our mother and model. The Church is Catholic. Jesus reconciles man and God, so the Church is universal, accessible to all of humanity. We see the face of Christ in every person. The Sacraments are the “narrow gate,” incorporating those who offer their free obedience of faith into His Mystical Body. The Church is apostolic. Jesus builds the Church on the foundation of weak Apostles—who are sometimes comically incompetent and rebellious. The Church is forever “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic.”

The four marks of the Church provide the doctrinal lifelines to the history of salvation. Yet—with a pathological need for cultural acceptance—we often surrender to the demands of the secular culture and undermine and replace the Church’s theology with human ideological constructs. The latest Trojan horse of subversion comes with the slogan of “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” On the surface, the words sound benign. They’re not.

The Church celebrates human dignity. But the Church does not “celebrate diversity.” Not all cultures and behaviors have equal dignity. Some of our differences are rooted in sin. Some cultural patterns are degrading. Need evidence? Turn on the television. The Church is Catholic. The secular ideology of “diversity” regresses to the divisions of tribalism and undermines the universality of the Catholic Church.

The Church is hierarchical—with men and women and mothers and fathers having complementary roles. The Church celebrates one body: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:12) We all have a part to play according to our states of life. The Church is one and apostolic. The secularist demand for “equity” is rooted in envy. It is unachievable, irrational, and abusive. It subverts the beautiful ensemble of complementarity within the hierarchical Church with Jesus as the Head.

Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father...” (Mt. 7:21). The Church is holy and forgives sins. “Inclusion” does not distinguish between right and wrong, truth and error. It excludes Catholic orthodoxy, and its moral relativism undermines and abuses the holiness of the Church.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion” represent the precepts of a Godless secular religion that abuses the Church with the arrogance of the Devil’s temptation: “Ye shall be as gods.” (Gen. 3:5) We are guilty of Church abuse when we expect the Church’s faith and morals to change to fit our lifestyles and expectations.

High-level ecclesiastical complicity in Church abuse disrupts the teaching apostolates of faithful priests and laity. We can no longer ignore the elephant in the room, pretending good-faith disagreement in our preaching and catechesis.

The remedy is the humble reception of God’s word. “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:9)

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Feb. 08, 2022 8:28 PM ET USA

    With reference to C. Hollerich's response to CBA's false interview assertion about homosexuality, if your interpretation is correct, then his opinion that "sociological-scientific" foundations trump divine revelation is misguided. Using his sophistry, one could follow the example of the academy and assert that Saints Basil, Augustine, et al. were wrong about creation because their science was incomplete. However, they were not wrong because they were teaching religious philosophy, not science.