By William WanWashington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
It was planned as a solemn event -- a chance to experience the sacred liturgical roots of Catholic tradition at one of the country's most prominent churches. But after three years of fundraising and careful coordination, an elaborate Latin Mass scheduled for Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington has been dragged into the clergy abuse scandal.
Advocates for abuse victims voiced outrage Tuesday that the former Vatican official invited to lead the Mass -- Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos of Colombia -- once praised a French bishop for not telling police about a priest who had sexually assaulted children. Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests sent letters Tuesday to Pope Benedict XVI and Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, calling on them to condemn Castrillón's remarks and replace him in the Mass.So, what do you do? I admit to being a bit baffled at some of the conservative reaction to this. Protest the protesters?
It is obvious to me that this Bishop made a grave error. But what to do? I admit to having a headache just thinking about it. On the one hand, the scandal of abuse by priests has been completely blown out of proportion. On the other hand, in the few cases where it did happen, are we to stand back and do nothing about it?
On the one hand, these poor people have been trying so hard for three years to finally have a traditional Latin mass, and this is one of the few bishops available who can say it. The sins of the Bishop don't make the mass less worthy. The holy sacrifice of the mass is independent of the sins of those saying it, otherwise we would never have a good and perfect mass.
Does this bishop not say mass every day anyway, like all other priests? So what's one more? Why does this one mean anything special to the protester anyway? Would they have gone otherwise? It is highly unlikely. It is only special to those who want to experience a traditional mass. You see, it's not about the bishop. It's about the MASS.
On the other hand, is it worth creating even more scandal to go on with it? Could they postpone it and/or get someone else? Could the Bishop apologize and repent? (Not that this would be enough for some of the protesters.)
I admit to being rather scandalized at the Bishop myself. That one would congratulate another for not going to police to denounce a child-abuser is horrifying. Truth has a way of creeping up on a person. Sometimes it takes years, but to avoid scandal now is to risk creating even greater scandal later. But such was the mentality of the Church back then. NOT SO NOW.
Still, what to do? What do you think?