For most of us the resurrection of Jesus remains a beacon of hope. But it has become a beacon surrounded by gloom.
We are invited to rejoice. Not easy! Every hour of every day we are relentlessly forced to confront the terrible revelations of sexual abuse of the young by a relatively small but still notable number of our clergy. These revelations, though frequently distorted by the media, remain none the less real.
In fairness we need to be grateful to elements of that media for having revealed to us and to the rest of the world what the Church itself was unwilling to confront.
And so the burdensome stress we carry on this Easter Day, when added to all of our other cares and concerns, is indeed significant and cries out to be addressed. I think it to be of major significance because it effects the bottom line of our spiritual life.
It has caused "The Rock" to tremble though not to topple. Millions of Catholics are asking the question: "Will we ever be able to feel the confidence we once had in the Church and particularly in its leaders?"
My answer to that question is a resounding YES. YES, provided that our confidence was realistic in the first place.
The Holy Spirit has been at work throughout this crisis. The Church today is a very different one from that of 8 or 9 years ago when the horrible story began to get legs. As a result we have been blessed with sufficient humility to be open to learning critical lessons.
For example: radical changes have been made in the screening and training of candidates for the priesthood.
Bishops, where necessary, have learned that traditional antipathy to scandal in the Church must take a back seat to reporting without delay serious criminal activity of the ordained to the proper civil authorities and this in spite of consequent and costly litigation, not to mention embarrassing encounters with victims and their families.
Failures within this context have come to be recognized as a greater cause of scandal than the actions of psychologically damaged members of the clergy.
Today, the Church, from the Pope down, is struggling to move in what people far wiser than I are saying is the right direction.
That does not mean that we have passed through the "revelations" stage. Many of the cases being brought forward are, as in the past, 40 or more years old and not all of them are legitimate.
This will not go away in a hurry…and that is how it ought to be.
We need some degree of continuing pressure in order to assure that it will never be business as usual in the corridors of power.
Learn from the Pascal Candle. The darker the church the more evident the light of Christ!
This light is gradually penetrating the gloom and is revealing a Church that is getting up from its knees and at long last looking to the teachings of the 2nd Vatican Council to find its balance.
This is a Church that has been severely jolted and consequently humiliated. I for one see this as a great blessing arising from an even greater tragedy.
Only the incarnate Christ knows the depth of this tragedy; suffering as he did with each of the young victims of this sordid chapter in our history.
All around us are signs of new life. New life in our recovering economy. New life in the high hopes expressed by those working toward nuclear disarmament. New life in the countless helping hands reaching out to the needy survivors in Chile. All signs of the glory of the risen Lord, penetrating the shadows of our lives.
If Haiti’s earthquake survivors emerged from the rubble singing God’s praises how can we not chant "Alleluia" for these signs and for countless others of new life we encounter. My dear friends, fear not. Rejoice, I say to you rejoice…Christ is risen.