NEW YORK, MARCH 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- U.S. Catholics, especially priests, should respond to these “sad days” with virtue and holiness, says Archbishop John P. Foley.
The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications revealed that a cardinal once asked him: “´What is our best defense against the charges of sexual abuse against the clergy?´ I responded that our best defense is virtue — and, in the absence of virtue, candor.”
He made these comments during a homily he delivered Wednesday at St. Charles Seminary near Philadelphia, the archdiocese to which he belongs. The archbishop is visiting his country from March 12-18.
“Tragically, there has apparently been a great absence of virtue,” Archbishop Foley lamented. “In some ways, perhaps, there has been an excess of candor, because of actions of over half a century brought to public notice, with the consequent danger of revealing the names not only of victimizers but also of victims, a great humiliation and embarrassment for them and their loved ones.”
“However, the basic principle is this: Each one of us is responsible for each one of our deliberate thoughts, words and actions,” he said. “Each one of us will be judged by God on the basis of the state in which we die — a state of innocence, a state of repentance, or a state of unforgiven serious sin.”
“The real tragedy of the present crisis, apart from the undermining of confidence in the Church and her clergy that results from such terrible actions and such revelations, is not embarrassment for the Church,” the archbishop said. “It is the fact of a grave offense against God and a grave offense against God´s children.”
“We truly need holy priests, priests who are pure in thought, word and deed; priests who are men of prayer; priests who are generous in service; priests who are self-giving, self-sacrificing; priests who are dedicated to making known the saving knowledge and love of Jesus,” he continued.
“In this time of great tragedy for the Church, I have suggested to the highest authority that the three days before Holy Thursday, which is the day on which we recall the institution of the priesthood, be dedicated to reparation and to prayer for the sanctification of priests,” Archbishop Foley concluded.