Monday, May 06, 2002

Self Examination

A few days ago Brian from Kairos asked the following rhetorical question in a post on Bishop McCormack's apology:

"So why am I responding to it as though he told me he did not have sex with that woman--Miss Lewinsky? Is this a failure of Charity on my part, a justified reaction to continuing cynicism by the Bishops, or something else?"
I'm glad to see him asking the question, because I fear that many of us aren't bothering to do so. There is a lot of anger and rage over the actions of the Bishops these days, much said with too broad a brush and with too little attention to the worldwide nature of the Internet medium. The poison of sarcasm and rants can too easily get swept up in the wind of the Internet and spread like wildfire. As Michael Dubruiel mentioned today, it's healthy to face up to the truth. And the truth is some of our bishops have been woefully negligent, and others possibly worse. But facing the truth means the whole truth. For most of us that means we need to admit we just don't know the scope of the Bishops' failures. As I mentioned in my post presenting a defense of Cardinal Law, there are a range of explanations for his failures. Knowing which one was true for a given case may help us in finding the proper solution.

As I mentioned in my original post on the scandal, we do have some control over how the scandal affect us. If you are not taking this point seriously, I suggest you read the parable of the prodigal son again, but focus this time on the elder son. Examine his attitude and behavior. As the pope highlights in Reconciliatio et Paenitentia:
"But the parable also brings into the picture the elder brother, who refuses to take his place at the banquet. He rebukes his younger brother for his dissolute wanderings and he rebukes his father for the welcome given to the Prodigal Son, while he himself, a temperate and hardworking person, faithful to father and home, has never been allowed he says to have a celebration with his friends. This is a sign that he does not understand the father's goodness. To the extent that this brother, too sure of himself and his own good qualities, jealous and haughty, full of bitterness and anger, is not converted and is not reconciled with his father and brother, the banquet is not yet fully the celebration of a reunion and rediscovery."
I don't present the parable as an analogy for the scandal. I just sense a danger that, in our desire for justice and restoration, we might fail to realize how we have let the situation corrupt us and poison our attitudes. And that doesn't have to be.


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