Update – 3 March, 2019…
Since writing my original editorial comment below, I have been moved by the information given by bloggers and the evidence provided by several (not least the Australian bloggers) which appears to point to the Cardinal’s innocence. Read on, and tell us if you agree.
St John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, teaches that “…the person who does not become irate when he has cause to be, sins. For an unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices: it fosters negligence, and stimulates not only the wicked, but above all the good, to do wrong. (Homily Xl, super Matheum, 1c, nt 7).
So, what is the correct Catholic response to this sort of horrendous news? Horror at the Cardinal’s crimes (of which he insists he is innocent); compassion for his victims? Compassion for the Cardinal himself, that he has, apparently, succumbed to a shocking temptation and thus fallen from grace and brought his high office – and the Catholic Church itself – into disrepute?
Anger? Compassion? A combination?
One key question, however, has to be whether or not these appalling crimes are doing irreparable damage to the Bride of Christ, His Church. Of course Christ has promised to be with His Church until the end of time, that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church. There was no promise, however, that the gates of Hell wouldn’t come close, and they have never been as close as they are now, in our times. It has to be the case, then, that in some souls, the answer to the “irreparable damage” question is definitely “yes”. Some will never see the beauty of the Faith, some will be convinced that all priests are abusers, that the Church is evil. And isn’t that where St John Chrysostom’s exhortation to righteous anger should move us to action? But, what, if anything – beyond prayer and sacrifice – can any of us do about this sordid scandal of the abuse of children and vulnerable adults? There must be something we can do – but what?