The Legionaries of Christ, a Catholic religious order, has officially accused its founder, Father Marcial Maciel, of "reprehensible and objectively immoral behavior." Maciel is accused of being a drug addict, a womanizer and a pedophile. The order officially denounced him, eight years after former Pope Benedict removed him from service. It also issued an apology: "We want to express our deep sorrow for the abuse of minor seminarians, the immoral acts with men and women who were adults, the arbitrary use of his authority and of material goods."
As Legionaries delegates from around the world met in Rome, the apology was to show they are willing to start a new chapter and head in a new direction. Or could it be the apology only came because of a United Nations report accusing the Legionaires of ignoring child abuse by priests and specifically denouncing the "magnitude of the evil and scandal" the U.N. felt Maciel had caused? You decide.
Some may say, "good, it's about time." Others might ask what took so long.
I am not a Catholic, although many would consider me to be so. My mother is the product of a Sicilian mother and Irish father, strong Roman Catholics. My mother wanted to be a nun until she met my dad. I received the sacraments of baptism, first communion and confirmation. But my mother left the Catholic church and became a born-again Christian, officially referring to herself as a non-denominational Christian, more Protestant than Catholic. For years I was confused, especially having a Jewish father. If the religion you were taught to believe in wasn't "right" anymore, wasn't the "truth," what was? I became a Jew for awhile, then a born-again Christian myself at the age of 22. And I struggled with my faith, my religion and my relationship with God for many years.
When my son died in 2004 of a terminal illness, I was angry at God and blamed him. I asked questions I was told not to ask, and believe it or not, I received answers. God and I are OK now. I have forgiven him (I'm sure he would have survived if I hadn't), and I do not subscribe to any one religion any longer. But the issue of abuse in the Catholic church has bothered me for a long time.
I mentioned I am not Catholic, because I do not believe the pope is a representative of God on earth. I do believe he is the head of the Catholic church and I do believe he is powerful.
I never had much interest in popes until a few years ago, when a friend of mine who is Jewish was granted an audience with Pope John Paul. When she, among many others, met with him, she told him she was Jewish and he personally apologized to her for the role the Catholic Church had in helping the Nazi's obtain passports and escape justice after World War II and the Holocaust. I thought: "That's a pope! That's what a pope should do."
And since Pope Francis became the head of the Catholic church, I have been even more intrigued. Here was a pope who is speaking biblically of the poor, widows, orphans, greed. Here is a pope that speaks without judgement of the gay community. Here is a pope willing to discuss a woman's role, or lack thereof, in the church.
So where is Pope Francis when it comes to speaking out against the abuse that happened in the church? Catholics are counting on him. The world is counting on him. Even I, a former Catholic, am counting on him.
The church must admit not just its wrongdoing, but its culpability. It must remove those who are guilty and hand church records over to the authorities. For as this very biblical pope knows, the bible states:
Romans 13: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
Luke 20:25: Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.
It's the right thing to do. The just thing to do. The humane thing to do. The Christlike thing to do.