Catholic Exchange: A Call to Spiritual Arms in Response to the Sex Abuse Scandals

What do we do now? That is the question facing all of us within the Mystical Body in response to the ever growing scandals being brought to light. No doubt we are angry, but we must channel and harness that anger lest it become wrath and remain at the level of blind rage long-term.

As long as we are ruled by rage, we are unable to prudently decide a course of action. We often also go deaf and ignore the calls of our true shepherds who seek to guide us through this hurricane.

Spiritual Warfare

The calls for reform, letter writing campaigns, protests, and other similar responses are good. However,they are not the primary means by which we win this battle. The Church needs to be purified from this evil. But that purification requires our willingness to enter into the great spiritual warfare that is going on around us. It has always been our mission, but often we become blinded by the material aspect of our nature and set aside or abandon the spiritual. That, or we  simply forget that the spiritual is higher than the material.

This war is against Satan. It is not simply a matter of Fallen men choosing to do diabolically evil acts. Satan is always after the priesthood and he’s always after each one of us. Every hour of every day, he seeks to drag us to hell.


The Enemy wants us to turn on one another. He seeks to sow greater seeds of division. He wants the laity to distrust the priesthood. He wants the priesthood to distance itself from the laity. That’s the whole point.

If we cannot harness our outrage for good and beg for the Holy Spirit to give us the eyes to see as Christ sees, then we will be impotent in the face of the Enemy. The spiritual battle is where purification will spring forth. It will be a long battle. One we will wage for the rest of our lives, but it is the battle we are all called to at Baptism.

We must not forget that the Church is “militant”. She is “the army of Christ”, the “levy of the living God”; “the levy of the great King”, in which we were enrolled at baptism and confirmation.

Henri de Lubac, Splendor of the Church, 185.

Prayer and Fasting

Evil never gives up power easily and without a fight. Our letters and outcry won’t matter at all unless we are first and foremost praying and fasting in atonement for the sins of the Church. Our Lord Himself tells us that certain sins must be driven out by prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29).

We must view this fight through the eyes of faith, not the organs that allow us to see the material world around us. The Church battles “powers and principalities” internally and exteriorly. The scandals reveal to us the breadth and depth of the fight before us and the rot that infects the Mystical Body.

“The Church is unceasingly torn by internal as well as exterior conflict”; the “mystery of iniquity” is at work without as well as within. The great struggle that had its prelude in heaven is fought out among men through the whole of time. People do not like their apathy thus disturbed and they are afraid of too lofty a vocation; the bonds of flesh and blood take some breaking. The world views as an insult and provocation anything that does not conform to its own ideas; feeling itself threatened by the least of the Church’s spiritual conquests, it is never without reaction to them.

Ibid, 187

This reality is true within the hierarchy, within the laity, and in the world. Far too many people grow apathetic, indifferent, or even hostile to the vocation we are all called to, which is sainthood. This conflict plays out in many ways, and tragically, even to the point of demonic sexual abuse of minors and other people. St. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 that the Enemy disguises himself as “an angel of light” and his followers will disguise themselves as righteous leaders. While it is shocking to hear of the horrific deeds committed, it is not surprising once we understand the rules of the battlefield we are all standing on. We are fighting the powers of hell inside of the Church today. It’s been the same way since the institution of the Church.

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.

4 Replies to “Catholic Exchange: A Call to Spiritual Arms in Response to the Sex Abuse Scandals”

  1. I keep hearing from fellow parishioners that the Church teaches that we are NOT to criticize priests. How are we to stop the abuse of our children if we cannot or will not question the actions of all those around us who are behaving in a troubling manner. I left the Church in the early 80’s because of the pedophile issue. I returned because of need for the Eucharist. I was told that the Church had accepted responsibility for covering up these evils. Now it appears that the coverup has continued unabated with the cooperation of the faithful who won’t accept their responsibility in protecting the weak and young among us. Christ will “take care of everything” in His time, but I weap for all those who are attacked and possibly condemned while we wait.

    1. I didn’t say we can’t ever criticize our priests. What I am running into–in ministry, social media, and in my own parish–is people who are taking their indiscriminate rage out on our priests because the priest doesn’t respond to things the way the individual wants them done. There are, in fact, many good and holy priests who are trying to shepherd and lead their flocks during this crisis, but whose calls and support are falling upon the deaf ears of the angry who are shutting themselves off from their spiritual fathers.

      And the Church doesn’t teach that we can’t criticize priests. If we do so, then it needs to be done appropriately and respectfully rather than in ranting, raving, screaming, yelling, throwing things, etc. Yes, all of the above have happened to perfectly innocent priests recently. If we suspect something serious is going on with our priest then we have an obligation to report it. We also need to make sure that we don’t make assumptions in an age of suspicion, so we have to find some balance. If a priest is acting inappropriately towards children or adults, then it needs to be addressed.

      My primary point is that we are in a spiritual war. It’s time to engage. Pax Christi.

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