The Catholic faithful in the United States have been bombarded with the ominous news regarding the predatory nature of some of their clergy and for the most part they have silently accepted the somber news with silence and gracious but unspoken indignation. With the revelations of the former papal nuncio to the United States now fueling the discussion regarding the known activities of Archbishop McCarrick and the conscious silence on the part of the Holy See it is now time for the Catholic faithful to openly show their disdain for the horrendous activities perpetrated by Archbishop McCarrick and intentionally covered up at the highest levels of the Catholic Church’s administration.

Archbishop McCarrick’s activities were morally wrong and the fact that the Holy See, along with many American bishops failed to disclose his illicit activities is equally wrong. While a canonical tribunal awaits Archbishop McCarrick, the clerical wall of silence is symptomatic of a larger problem within the Church that seems to destroy the Church’s credibility with the faithful for perhaps generations to come. The proclivity of Archbishop McCarrick towards coerced homosexual activities with young seminarians and priest illustrates the ever so clearly that the absolute power wielded by members of the College of Cardinals, and the episcopate is often unchecked and subjectively viewed by the holder as absolute over all of those around them. The episcopate as an absolute monarchial office is as antiquated as the notion of feudalism within our modern society. It is indeed time for the Catholic bishops throughout the United States to adopt and adhere to American Republicanism as it pertains to the governance of the Catholic Church in the United States and remove the vestiges of the Holy Roman Empire from their codices of antiquated errors and realize that the ministry of a bishop is one directed towards pastoral and fatherly concern of those entrusted into their care. Most importantly, the notice that bishops are above the law is a superfluous notion that expired with the divine rights of kings and rightly has been consigned to the wastebasket of history. If indeed the bishops of the United States want to salvage any dignity from the fiasco of the clergy sex abuse scandal, they need to become humble in front of God and indeed before His people.

If the American Bishops want to extricate themselves from the Pandora’s Box of scandals and abuse that they themselves only have themselves to blame, it is time to completely come clean on their transgressions and ask the faithful of the Catholic Church for not only forgiveness, but the assurance of support as collectively the Church in the United States prayerfully and methodically works through the many levels of the scandals towards a period of forgiveness and healing for everyone involved.

The Nuremberg Defense, namely, “I was only following the orders of my metropolitan, or orders from Rome,” is a feeble today as it was after the demise of the ill-fated Nazi era of Germany. American prelates need to own the responsibility of culpability and acknowledge their conspiracies in covering up the myriads of clergy sex abuse and, “man up,” taking full responsibility for those shortcomings and errors. If indeed bishops, archbishops and cardinals need to resign then those are the consequences of owning their erroneous actions. Catholic members of the hierarchy are aware of the matter and form associated with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so as penitents they should have no issues with making a full contrition of their shortcomings. Most importantly as part of the total recognition of their collusion, the prelates of the Catholic Church in the United States need to completely and honestly divulge information to civil authorities, including law enforcement for the veracity of their commitment to ring true and faithful to America’s Catholic faithful that have been scandalized by decades of failure on the part of their clergy.

While the clergy sex abuse scandal is the tip of the ecclesial iceberg, the realities involved in the struggles within the Church are indeed more deeply rooted in spiritual ideologies that place the American bishops in camps of liberalism and conservatism, deeply divided against themselves and the Catholic faithful are caught in the crossfire. The Catholic Church in the United States is on the verge of schism, not only from the precepts of the Catholic Church but form the sociological and ideological identities that have been part of Catholicism from the most nascent days of the early Church. Clearly, the battles for control over the world’s Catholic faithful is reaching a feverish pitch between the ideological differences between the callings of the modern world and the traditional role the Church has played in the theological and sociological roles of the faithful. Secular humanism seemingly has infiltrated the modern Catholic Church and the fabric of the Church’s garment is starting to tear at the seams. In addition to their part in concealing the clergy sex scandals in the Church, the hierarchy indeed have embraced modern trends that are indeed incompatible with Catholicism and the traditional teachings expounded by Mother Church from ancient times. Catholic identity is really what is at stake in the escalating battles over the Church’s internal legislative issues, sacramental disciplines, the status of celibate clergy and the ever-increasing role of the laity in the life of the Church.

While the document, Gaudium et Spes, The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, was promulgated over fifty years ago and the Church seemingly assimilated the teachings of the Second Vatican Council we are at a new crossroads of modernity that needs a supplemental extrapolation of the Church’s teachings for the 21st century. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council could not have imagined the complexities of the 21st century and the increasing rise of globalism as part of the human condition into the life and understanding of the Catholic faith. While the Second Vatican Council laid the framework for the modern Catholic Church, it did so in a world that was divided by Communism, still living in the shadows of the atrocities of the Second World War and attempting to deal with the significant discoveries of modern science that would revolutionize the world. Seemingly, the role of the Church needs to be revisited and rediscovered in the context of the 21st century if the Church wants to eradicate the problematic scandals that continue to plague the Church, especially those of clergy sex abuse of minors.

The Church in America needs introspective contemplation to understand the mission to which it is called in the spiritual lives of the Catholic faithful. It is time for the Catholic Church in the United States to unconditionally repent, reform and restore itself to ensure integrity to the Church’s life and sacramental ministry. While such a reflective transformation is perhaps painful and quite difficult for the Catholic hierarchy in the United States, it is necessary to restore credibility among the People of God and bring decades of clerical mismanagement to an end and bring the Catholic Church in the United States to a restored vitality of faith in the Word and the Sacraments of Christ.

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