In 2018 Pope Francis expelled Fernando Karadima from the priesthood. He was Chile’s most notorious clerical abuser and as a result of the crisis in their country, 34 Chilean bishops offered their resignations to the Pope. It was this event which turned the tide on how the Catholic Church looked at the abuse crisis in the present.
It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. Ephesians 5 v 12
What does this mean?
Well it does not mean it is giving licence to cover-up.
It does not mean that the disobedient are not exposed because the Apostle has told us to do just that.
In 2016 the Church of England in the UK were dealing with 3,300 complaints of sexual abuse. This can be added to all the other Churches who were dealing with official complaints. Then what about those who didn’t complain or who weren’t heard. Now stretch that back decades, generations, to the time of the Apostle in prison who says what I think he is saying, “There are some acts that are so bad that we will be ashamed to talk about them, they disgust us that much.” He is not saying don’t talk about it in order to deal with them.
Perhaps the Church should step into shame even for the previous generations who abused and covered it over.
This is a hauntingly powerful story of a woman from Bethlehem. She was a concubine. In a fit of anger she ran away from her master and owner to her father’s house in Bethlehem of Judah. The man found her and wooed her back.
On the way back to his home in the hill country of Ephraim, it became late in the evening and they needed a place to stay. They depended on the hospitality of the people of Gibeah, but there was no hospitality forthcoming. Finally, an old man offered them a place to stay in his home.
That night a set of townsmen knocked on the door. They demanded the body of the male visitor. In order to appease the sexual hunger of the men outside, the old man grabbed the concubine and threw her out and shut the door.
The crowd outside gang-raped her, abused her all night. When dawn broke they left her lying on the ground. When her husband came out he saw her lying dead at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold.
It is a horrible story told in Judges 19 and there is no mention of God. Does He not care? Was it too shameful to even make an appearance or speak a word?
Her memory calls out. It calls out to the psychological numbness of those around her, and it calls out to us down the centuries to amplify her silent cries.
There are people crying today because of acts that are too shameful to even mention where the presence of God seems remote. We need to speak up and out. We need to step into the shame and feel the dirt and the pain and we need to stand for justice. For the greatest shame is on those who turn away from that cry.
One of the victims in the Chilean abuse scandal said these words after meeting the investigating team led by the Archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, “For the first time I felt that someone is listening, I think [Scicluna] was sincerely moved by what I was saying. He cried.”
Whatever nation you are in today it is certainly time to cry over the shameful pain that has gone on for too long.