April 30, 2010

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Pray for abuse victims and our faithful priests

During my recovery from surgery, I have thought a lot about gratitude.

I keep two letters in my favorite Bible, one from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and the other from my mother.

Mom’s letter was written as she was recovering from hip replacement after suffering a bad fall. I thought of her letter because in it she expressed her gratitude for our family standing by her. In doing so, she reflected on the meaning of her ordeal and said that she was overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessing and love of our family.

I believe in joining the test of my illnesses of the last two years in all their complexity to the redemptive suffering Jesus offered for all of us. In this sense, in addition to my prayers, I offered and continue to offer the sacrifice that accompanies sickness for our local Church family in all its members.

As we come to the conclusion of the Year for Priests, I also offer my illness and its consequences especially for our priests, seminarians and for the continued blessing of vocations for our archdiocese.

As I pray gratefully for the outpouring of prayers and for our archdiocesan family, I want to ask a favor of all of you. I want to ask for your prayers for those innocent victims of sex abuse, especially those offended by clergy and others who serve our Church.

I have joined my recent illness in solidarity with the enormous suffering of Pope Benedict XVI during recent months and more. I can’t imagine the cross that he carries in bearing the burden of evil and sin that mars the holiness of our Church.

I am particularly mindful of the grievous sins of sexual abuse committed by ministers of the Church. As I pray daily for the victims of sexual abuse in our archdiocese and the resulting suffering they endure, it is not difficult also to intuit some measure of the anguish of the Holy Father. He bears this heavy cross with confidence in

acknowledging the truth of what is evil and the pain it has caused victims of abuse, especially by priests and bishops.

At the same time, the Holy Father also bears witness to the truth of the redemption from sin promised, won and offered by Christ in his suffering, death and resurrection.

I feel badly for sexual abuse victims and for all of us who face the embarrassment, pain and scandal of abuse.

At the same time, I offer my sentiments of admiration and gratitude for the steady fidelity of faithful members of the Church.

I pray gratefully for those who continue to express confidence in the faith that God’s grace continues to support us during this time of purification. I deeply appreciate the faithful trust of believers of our community that God continues to hold out his healing to victims of abuse and his mercy to a sinful humanity, especially in the Church.

I feel badly for the overwhelming majority of our priests who live their pastoral love generously and with integrity. Our faithful priests need to know of our support for them as they stand tall and continue to serve with humility. It has not been and is not easy.

In solidarity with Pope Benedict, we join in asking the guilty clergy and others who violated the Church’s trust to “answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals.”

An editorial in the April 2010 issue of Traces, Communion and Liberation’s International Magazine, asked: “Alongside all the limitations and within the Church’s wounded humanity, is there or is there not something greater than our sin, something radically greater than sin? Is there something that can shatter the inexorable weight of our evil? Something that, as the pope wrote in his Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, ‘Has the power to forgive even the greatest of sins, and to bring forth good even from the most terrible evil?’ ”

This is the power of God’s mercy, which is available to every one of us sinners.

In the same pastoral letter, the Holy Father said, “Conversion to Christ ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one’s own need of his forgiveness and his friendship.”

As the Communion and Liberation editor noted: “This is the embrace of Christ, in our wounded and needy humanity, far greater than the evil we can do. If the Church, with all its limitations, had not this to offer the world, especially the victims of those barbarities, then we would be lost—because the evil would still be here, but it would be impossible to overcome it.”

When all is said and done, our most radical reason for gratitude in any and every circumstance is God’s unfathomable gift of healing and his loving mercy. †

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