Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 24, 2002
Let the scandalous virus run its course
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
"Put your mouth to the dust and wait!"
- Book of Lamentations
As well, this humiliation should teach us something about the dangers of clerical privilege. The chickens inevitably come home to roost. A season of nasty disprivilege will always follow a time of privilege.
We misused power, took too many things for granted, enjoyed privilege, and kept too many things secret and in-house too long, however sincere we may have been. Now we are paying the price. We must never again let ourselves fall into the trap of privilege.
Third, we need too to widen our compassion so as to include the perpetrator, that person who suffers from pedophilia. It's easy to have a selective compassion, to reach out for those whose weakness or illness is clean, uncompromised, and doesn't taint us in any way.
Finally, carrying this scandal biblically also means that we must resist the temptation to personally distance ourselves from it by taking the attitude: "Don't look at me! I'm innocent! Don't paint me with that brush!"
We're family and this has happened inside our family. A biblical faith and Christ-like compassion does not link itself to the family's graced moments, its saints, martyrs, and proud achievements and then distance itself from it dark history, its compromises, its betrayals and its sin.
Jesus didn't do that. His love for us and his solidarity with the family made for a painful conscription. He was crucified between two thieves and was judged by association to be as tainted as those who died around him.
People present at the crucifixion were not making distinctions as to who was guilty and who was innocent. Jesus was seen as tainted, pure and simple.
Perhaps that was the most painful aspect of all for him as he underwent the crucifixion. This too is what's asked of us. The sex scandals re-make present the original scene at Calvary - Christ dying between two thieves. We are, each, all three of those characters.
To carry all of this is not easy, especially in the short run. We have to be prepared for a season, perhaps a long one, of continued pain and embarrassment and a further erosion of trust. We need to accept this without self-pity and without being overly self-protective.
Partly we are ill (though everyone is) and, like a virus that has infected the body, this has to run its course and the body, in fever and weakness, has to build up a new immune system.
In a situation like this, there is only one thing to do and the Book of Lamentations spells it out graphically: "Put your mouth to the dust and wait!"
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