In February of 2006 (more than 12 years ago), I started investigating abuses in the Catholic Church, specifically in the Cleveland and Boston dioceses. As a journalist it was tough –it was a story no one wanted to talk about. As a Catholic it was even tougher – it was a story I didn’t want to talk about. I didn’t want to think that this Church that I had given my life to was associated with scandal. But it was precisely because I was a Catholic (a true, lifelong, cradle-to-the-grave Catholic) that I had to talk about it. I had to dig deep into the mess, the tragedies, the darkness…interview diocesan hierarchy, investigators, priests, law enforcement, and laity.
Fast forward more than a decade. I’m still investigating, pursuing truth, fighting for the church. The Pennsylvania grand jury report is released. I’m not completely surprised because some of the threads I started following in 2006 seemed connected to Erie. But it was nonetheless heartbreaking. Now, it’s not only my church but also my state and my diocese (the one I grew up in and the one I moved to.) Now there are accusations everywhere, even at the highest level.
The difference between now and 12 years ago is that people finally want to talk about it now. FINALLY.
Finally, “church scandal” doesn’t sound like a conspiracy theory anymore. Finally, more people are starting to see that the devil truly has attacked the Church from within. I’ve been told a few times that that idea is “BS”… but THIS HAS BEEN FORETOLD.
Ezekiel 34, Matthew 7, 2 Timothy 4, Acts 20, Matthew 24, 2 Peter 2, 1 Thessalonians 2, Matthew 23, Revelations… the church approved messages of Fatima, Akita Japan, Quito Ecuador… Pope Leo XIII and Pope Paul IV…. and our own catechism of the Catholic Church. We have been warned that there will be false prophets and wolves in sheep clothing. We have been warned that “the smoke of Satan has entered the Church,”* and that this Church must pass through a “trial that will shake the faith.”**
In every way, we have been warned. So, this scandal should not be surprising (heartbreaking, disgusting, and maddening, yes, but not surprising). Those of you who are at a loss right now, who are confused and despairing… I tell you this to give you hope, to remind you that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against this Church. (Mt. 16:18) Our Lord said it with His own mouth. It is a promise.
There will be a cleansing, yes. There HAS to be. And my personal opinion (after 12 years of intense study) is that this will get much worse before it gets better. This is only part of “the trial.” The mystical Body of Christ will undergo its scourging and crowning and crucifixion, but it will also experience its resurrection and glory.
So, the question now is: who will remain?
We are told it will be a remnant… but a HOLY remnant. (Romans 11:5 and Revelation 12:17) Is that you? Do you have it in you to follow Him through this? Like the first apostles and disciples, do you have it in you to undergo the persecutions of being labeled a Catholic in a world that misunderstands the truth of the Church? A world that only sees news headlines and filth and not they beauty in ashes? Do you have it in you to put up with those who revile the Church and seek its demise? To fight for truth and light and transparency and justice and righteousness for the sake of its cleansing?
Let me remind you, friend: greater is He that is in you, then he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4) So, yes, you do have it in you. You have Him in you. Understand where we are at in the salvation story. If you have ears to hear (Mt 11:15)… learn from the fig tree. (Mt 24:32)
Oh my dear friends, I pray that God blesses you with an outpouring of His Spirit (with holy boldness and patience and courage and power) for the sake of your own faith and the complete restoration of our Church.