In recent months we have once again been forced to confront the sinful evils we have inflicted upon one another. Currently the focus is rightfully on the sins of the clergy. The sexual predations of some clergy have a three-fold effect on the victims and on the Church.
First there is the violation of the Sixth Commandment by all who engage in illicit sexual union. Sin always causes harm; it always sets evil loose. Even illicit sexual union between two fully consenting adults harms human dignity; it dishonors the body and the meaning of human sexuality, and it weakens marriage by usurping one of its privileges.
A second effect of sexual abuse by clergy is that those who perpetrate it gravely violate their vow of celibacy. This adds sacrilege to the list of grave harms and brings the very Sacrament of Holy Orders into disrepute.
Yet a third effect is the terrible violation of trust. Men who are called “Father” turn against their own in a kind of spiritual incest. The horrifying impact of this on the victims is evident in listening to their testimonies. The wounds are deep and lasting. While most of the victims were post-pubescent teens or young adults, the harm is the same. The typical case is a religious superior exploiting someone under his care and authority. The relationship is not one between equals. The victims have suffered behaviors ranging from sexual harassment to outright sexual abuse. In the priestly scandal most of the cases have been ones of homosexual predation, but homosexual or heterosexual, the sin of any sexual predation is grievous and causes tremendous harm.
One of the cultural issues that underlies this scandal, as well as others that have been in the news recently, is a tendency to treat sexual sins lightly. Since the 1960s there has been a steady erosion in the proper understanding of sexuality. While no one lived perfectly before that time, sexual sins were considered serious; blatant disregard for biblical sexual norms was considered by most to be shocking and scandalous. Cohabitation, sex before marriage, the portrayal of sexual acts in movies, and so forth were thought to be serious violations of decency.
At first, many thought it was “no big deal,” even calling it a “liberation.” All the while, though, the horrible effects continued to mount: an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, the skyrocketing of abortion rates, an increase in human trafficking (especially of minors), a steep decline in marriage rates, a steep increase in divorce rates, and an increase in single motherhood/absent fatherhood. And revealed most recently, the additional tolls of sexual harassment, molestation and sexual abuse.
Saying that sex is no big deal doesn’t make it so. It has been said that God always forgives, men sometimes forgive, but nature never forgives. We have sown the wind and we have reaped the whirlwind.
Today’s reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians gives a simple reminder on the seriousness of sexual sins and perversions:
Instead, you inflict injustice and cheat, and this to brothers. Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9-11).
Note that this passage links these sexual sins to an injustice so serious that, if one dies unrepentant, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Put more plainly, the unrepentant will go to Hell.
Perhaps as we awaken from our long moral slumber we will begin to see that texts like these are not indicative of the “sexual hang-ups” of St. Paul or of an earlier age in general. In a stern warning like this, God is not trying to “take away our fun”; he is trying to protect us and those we might harm by illicit sexual union and summon us to conversion and repentance before it is too late.
It is a simple but clear warning issued in love and out of a desire to protect us, who often make light of sin.
16 Replies to “A Simple but Clear Warning”
True indeed .
As we come to another 9/11 anniv., may we bring to our Mother, the thirst in every human heart , to know The Father and His love , thus to help deliver many from the enemy lies that equate lust with love .
She , in turn , would bring that thirst to our Lord , who took up that thirst for our sake, on The Cross , to fill our hearts , with the Blood and Water of the Father’ love, in His Spirit , to be poured in , esp. into every straying heart , to help heal the wounds of alienations and fears and lies .
Glory be to our Father .
The church is being forced to take a look at why this continues to happen in the church among the clergy. Why?! Stop turning the attention away from the inside of the church and putting this onto a societal problem. The sexual liberation did not cause this kind of perversion. The church has allowed this sin to go on. The pope still has not satisfactorily dealt with this in any way that will make changes. He has to set the precedent!!
Bravo Mary, best post yet!
Sometimes it is better to just consider how we, ourselves, have caused the mess and seek repentance for our own sins. The Church will be healed one person at a time.
“Stop turning the attention away from the inside of the church and putting this onto a societal problem.”
The Church is not outside society, Mary. We are part of it as it is part of us. The problem exists everywhere, and to pretend that what is going on outside the church has no effect on the Church is to stick your head in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong in the world – that this abuse by clergy is an isolated incident.
Yes, we ABSOLUTELY must clean house, but by no means should we stop there. If one were to fully investigate the public schools across the nation over the same time period as encompasses the Church scandal, what would we find? What about abuse in hospitals, asylums, nursing homes, or prisons? Is the abuse somehow more tolerable outside the Church than in? Are people held captive either by health or by choice (crime) somehow less in need of protection?
Make no mistake Mary, the abuse is happening all around us and will continue as long as we hide from the truth. WE are at least fortunate in that we see it now and can face it head-on. What about all the other places where we still pretend it’s ok -that it’s liberating? Who is caring for the victims of that lie?
There’s a saying that goes The Devil will allow a dollar’s worth of truth if you will take a penny’s worth of lies. The penny lie is that the abuse crisis is *uniquely* Catholic, or that certain Catholic doctrines or practices *cause* the abuse. The media of course is invested in this penny lie. An obsession that betrays a lack of genuine concern for the problem. It’s not an either/or proposition. We can scourge the Church of abusers AND condemn the lies about the Church.
The liberation should be treated as a very specific term. And applying it to such cases is just bewildering. Sexual sins are caused by liberation too. I think that once there’s a gap between a person and God, there will always be a sin. And that is why, we all need to be brave and strong to see what others try to impose on us, the misconceptions that occur in our lives and misleading circumstances. Once and for all, the flesh and the soul need to have a dedication to server the good.
May grace and blessings be in your path,
“Nature never forgives.” I like it. Natural consequences of serious unrepentant sin. I believe it’s built into the system, as it were. The land will have it’s rest. Our part is to choose – easy way (wooden yoke), or hard way (iron yoke of sin), chastisement – discipline. The Old Testament shows us repeatedly what unfaithfulness leads to, and it’s not going to be comfortable. Not going – to – be – “nice.” But it will be “kind” – meaning meant for our repentance.
Yes Monsignor, thank you for this. I also think that most sexual sins have one person who may lead another to commit sin. And according to Our Lord (Mt 13, 33), “those who lead others to sin will be garthered up to burn in hell”. Which makes me ask myself how I may lead others to commit sin..sobering.
These are CRIMES of the worst kind, sexual crimes against children! Sexual crimes against children by predator priests, covered up and facilitated by other priests, bishops, cardinals, and yes, even popes. The mob has nothing on the corrupt Catholic clergy and hierarchy. Call the atrocities what they are first and foremost. The UN should put the corrupt Catholic Church on trial for targeting children. The clergy and hierarchy have no credibility, absolutely none. We are all sinners, we’re not all rapists and molesters. Stop watering down the reprehensible corruption by preaching on sexual sin!
I pray that wasn’t his intent, and the UN is part of the corruption, but your prayer has reached the Lord. This is justified righteous indignation. All we can do is not follow their example since they will not take heed.
If I may… it is the ‘Lord who rises to accuse’ (Is. 3:13).
Not really sure if you mean ‘Lord who rises to accuse” is in support of calling out crimes or in favor of onging deflection but thanks for the lead int to Francis’s latest obfuscation in his Sept 11 2018 homily:
Prayer and humility are attributes necessary for bishops as they face “the Great Accuser,” the Pope said:
In these times, it seems like the “Great Accuser” has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The “Great Accuser,” as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, “roams the earth looking for someone to accuse.” A bishop’s strength against the “Great Accuser” is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction. Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world. – pope Francis
There is a third option to consider! Who is the ‘accuser’ in your post?
You’d have to ask Ezekial 34 above or the pope for clarification on what they meant.
I believe my post was clear. These are sexual crimes against children. No amount of subterfuge, deflection or denial is credible.
Mom, Your posts are very clear but I doubt you have the truth concerning the Pope, just like the rest of us. I was giving a warning that you should have a better look at yourself. Undermining the character of the Pope can be a mortal sin. Just because there have been grave sins committed by members of the Church it does not give anyone a free pass to commit other grave sins as a reaction to those sins.
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