Aug. 2, 2009, at 4:03pm
A Zenit item about the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ $660 million settlement with over 500 victims of sexual abuse is titled, “Spokesman: Church Saddened by Pedophelia”.
Father Lombardi spoke of the attitude the Church takes regarding the crime of sexual abuse.
He said: “Cardinal Mahony explained—as John Paul II and Benedict XVI have said many times—that the Church is evidently and above all saddened by the suffering of the victims and their families, for the harm caused by the grave and inexcusable behavior of some of its members, and is firm in its resolve to avoid future vile acts of this kind.
“The agreement, and the sacrifice it involves, are also a sign of this resolve, of the decision to close a sorrowful chapter in history and to look forward in terms of prevention and the establishment of a secure environment for children and young people in all areas of the Church’s pastoral work.” [my emphasis]
I raise this question for discussion: Is sadness the right response to wrongs of this kind? What about wrath?
In a review of Leon Podles’ disturbing book, Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, Adventist pastor, Bill Cork, argues that lack of due anger is part of the problem.
For Thomas Aquinas, anger is a necessary element of the virtue of fortitude—fortitude isn’t a matter of just putting up with evil, or of enduring sorrow, but includes actively resisting evil, bravery in the struggle, and anger at the evil which has led to sorrow. Summa Theologica, IIa-IIae, Q. 123, Art. 10.
Leon Podles is angry, and wants us to be angry, too. He wants us to be angry at the sin of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy. But more than that, he also wants us to be angry at the bishops and pope for not being angry at that same sin. That’s what irks him about this crisis more than anything else—never have the bishops or popes expressed any anger that priests molested kids or that other bishops covered it up and transferred the predators to new hunting grounds.
I tend to agree with him. But I would love to know what others think.