09 December, 2009

"The Final Call" starts a multi part investigation into the manner which the Church has treated victims of "the long lent" of sex abuse cases

Ashahed M. Muhammad -Asst. Editor- of The Final Call, ( a black Muslim website/paper) begins a series of investigatory pieces examining the manner in which the church has treated the victims of clergy sex offenders. This first installment raises the issue of race, but this is an argument that is well refuted. However, the subject soon moves to the manner in which victims are being dealt with, and the legal/financial strategies of some Dioceses, a far more damning situation for the church and its Bishops.

Whereas the State has the obligation to enforce the criminal law of the land - using the legal system to assign guilt and determine levels of compensation, whenever the Church uses the same protections offered to any legal entity in its defense, or if it adapts the tactics and standards of lawyers and insurance executives (and yes, even criminals), it is pilloried once again.

Yet, the question that I believe should guide the hearts of church men is to determine what is in the best interests of the "Good" (as understood in the Thomistic formulations that marked my formation and education). If the church exists to be the visible presence of Christ in the world, then it must always bind itself "with hoops of steel" to its primary mission of ministering Christ to the world.

So what is the "Good" as understood in these cases? Aside from the niceties of a Thomistic debate, and to steal a line from our evangelical brothers and sisters, the yardstick by which the Church is here and now being judged is "What would Jesus do?" As the earthly tabernacle of God's Holy Spirit here on earth, these four simple words provide the standard for judgment against which we are being measured. If we claim to speak for the Messiah, then must we not expect to be judged by how well our actions match our words.

Why do I believe this to be so? It is because the people who have moved into the offices of power and influence within virtually every western country, are the first of the "un-churched" to make such decisions without any significant religious or philosophical training, aside from those they received from purely secular sources. People are no longer willing to engage in studying the nuance of a situation... unless it effects them in some direct way. Understanding Christian values now happens in the stark black and white absolutes of "good" and "evil".

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