|“Beloved, this saying is trustworthy: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task.” Timothy
Alas for the American Church! Some of our bishops have fallen far short of the qualities that Timothy’s letter says they should possess to perform their noble task: “irreproachable, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money.”
How many practicing Catholics like me cringe with fear every time we see the words “sex abuse” in a headline? How many of us feel betrayed and ashamed of a Church we still love? Is there anything we can do to promote reform and healing?
At least a few committed Catholics are trying. Regular Daily Reflections reader Kevin Hayes emailed me about his efforts in the Pittsburgh Diocese which has been hard hit by the devastating Pennsylvania investigation of clerical sex abuses and cover ups.
Kevin and others have formed Catholics for Change in Our Church(CCOC). On its website, CCOC describes itself as “an independent organization of concerned, committed Catholics, based in Pittsburgh, formed to affirm the laity’s rightful role of co-responsibility in the Church. Our focus is to bring about positive changes grounded in working collaboratively with the clergy and having the qualities of transparency, accountability, and competency.” The site contains details about its push to work with “ordained Catholics” on issues such as caring for abuse victims.
I haven’t checked the group out beyond what Kevin has sent me but I suggest that anyone who wants to learn more should visit the website. Kevin reported that a recent meeting drew over 90 people and efforts are underway elsewhere to form chapters or similar groups.
To me this says that Catholics who abhor the scandals but are committed to staying in the Church are hungry to find a way to reform it from within. There’s historical precedent for this. After the Protestant Reformation, the demand for reforms led to the Council of Trent.
I also encourage everyone who wants to stay Catholic despite the current horrors to pray for the Church and for the many good bishops and priests who are among those hurt worst by the betrayals of their fellow clergy.
Today’s reading from Timothy speaks powerfully to our current situation by reminding us that “deacons” and, yes, “women” are among those with responsibility for the Church – in other words, all of us. And pray for healing the Church. The world needs our credible witness for justice and care for the poor.