Wednesday July 17, 2019
7:03 am
Bishop Hying

In the midst of current crisis, ‘There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us’

As published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic on September 9, 2018

 

      Given all of the difficulties and controversies in the Church these days, some people may be thinking of leaving the Church and giving up on the practice of the faith. I certainly understand the questions, frustrations, fears, anger and consternation that folks may be feeling. We are moving through some rough and stormy waters as Catholics.  

      I offer here some basic and simple reasons why I will never leave the Catholic Church, or give up on my vocation. Our most essential conviction as Catholics is that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, that his life, death and resurrection is the meaning of human existence, and that he intentionally founded the Catholic Church as his Body, to continue his mission of proclaiming the Gospel, celebrating the sacraments and shepherding people into a saving relationship with the Father. 

      Every other branch, denomination and local manifestation of Christianity in the West ultimately diverged from the Catholic Church from the 16th century onwards. For the first 1500 years of Christian faith in the West, Catholicism was it.  

      I readily affirm the goodness, holiness, faith and Scriptural adherence of many Christians who are not Catholic and gratefully recognize the spiritual beauty of their discipleship, but history tells us that the Catholic Church is the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic one that Jesus founded. I cling to the belief that Jesus will never abandon his Bride.

      I love the sacraments!  In these grace-filled celebrations of God’s grace, we encounter the Lord who fills us with life, love, mercy and holiness. From baptism to our final anointing before death, the sacraments accompany us throughout the pilgrimage we undertake to the Father’s house, as a ready assurance of God’s presence and blessing. 

      The fullness of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection has been folded over into the sacraments, which allow us to share, as adopted children, in the rich relationship that Christ enjoys with the Father and the Holy Spirit. I cannot imagine my life without the intimacy and power of the Eucharist, or the consolation and mercy of reconciliation. I could never leave the Church, because I would not be able to spiritually survive without the Mass as the meaning of my life. 

      I remain with the Church because of all the amazing, holy and good people I have met within her embrace. We would all agree that we have encountered the best individuals in the world through our parishes, schools and organizations. Through the Church, I have found a beautiful family of love, joy and inspiration. I can’t walk out on my family.

      The clarity of Catholicism’s moral teachings, the inspiration of the lives of her saints, the richness of her philosophy and theology, the beauty of the art, music and architecture sponsored and inspired by her faith, the enormous amount of good done by the Catholic Church throughout the world all are reasons for me to stay.  

      The Catholic Church houses, feeds, educate, heals and helps more people in need, distress and poverty than any other institution in history or in the world. In the length and weight of our religious tradition, we carry baggage of sin, intolerance, infidelity, arrogance and the scourge of clergy sexual abuse, but weighed in the scales, the greatness of Catholicism’s contribution to the proper understanding of the human person and the flourishing of fundamental rights, the ongoing struggle for social justice, generous mercy and genuine peace and the essential mission of proclaiming the saving victory of Christ over the power of sin and death is significant.  

      By no means do I intend to dismiss or diminish the dark history of sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the clergy. We need to continue to diligently do all we can to ensure a safe environment for our children everywhere, not just in church. We need to hold any leaders accountable who enabled the abuse of others to occur. We need to call for the same transparency and accountability in any institution which cares for children in any way.  

      Most sexual abuse of minors occurs in the home and a significant amount of it happens in public schools. No one can think this scourge is uniquely a Catholic problem. We care about all children in every school, family and institution.

      In the last several weeks, various people have shared with me their own painful history of sexual abuse as children, both within the Church, but often in other contexts. For some of them, this moment is the first time they are dealing with the sorrow and wounds which they have often carried for many years.          We pray for all victims of abuse, for their healing and peace, as they struggle to come to terms with what happened to them. We pray for all perpetrators of abuse, that they may recognize the horror of what they have done and seek the help and forgiveness they need. We pray for the Church, that all of us may be even more committed to live the teachings of Jesus and reflect to others the authentic face of Christ and the true values of love, mercy, respect and care that the Gospel reveals.

      I find consolation and strength in this quote from St. John Paul II, “There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for and does not now bear with us.”  

      Please know of my love and prayers for you every day!

 

       + Donald J. Hying  

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