The words of Sacred Scripture resonating in my mind today also remind me that the problem was around in Old Testament times as well. The New Testament quotes the Old Testament in this regard.
"Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy about you when he said: 'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.'"
(Matthew 15: 7-9; Please see also Isaiah 29:13)
As I continue to read the articles on the internet describing the escapades of certain high-ranking individuals in the Church, I am simply stunned. How many lives have been ruined by predatory behavior and failed leadership? I see clearly why Jesus frequently had harsh words for Church leadership back in his days upon the earth. Do the terms "brood of vipers, white-washed tombs, and hypocrites" apply today as they applied back in the time of Jesus? "Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!" (Matthew 18: 7)
Each time a new scandal has been revealed in recent years, I get an overwhelming sense of helplessness. I feel like an extremely small fish in a gigantic ocean with very little influence over anything. How can I make a difference?
I have very little control over anything other than my own behavior. Thus, I need to take to heart the words quoted above. "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." First and foremost, I need to be intentional about loving God with my whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. It cannot simply be lip-service.
May my actions never be a source sin for someone else. "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." (Matthew 18:6) That is pretty straight and to the point. The consequences are evident.
Let us pray for one another today. Let us also pray for our bishops and priests--the faithful ones as well as the errant ones. They all need our prayers. Finally, let us pray for all those victimized in one way or another. We are a Church in need of immense healing and grace.
Be strong in your faith!
"In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world."