I had a long discussion with a wise and trusted friend today who got me to thinking and I wanted to share some of those thoughts with you.
It’s easy to get frustrated with what we see as the inadequacy or inaction of our bishops and priests, especially those of us who write and/or analyze the news every day. Essentially we live without a news cycle anymore with the latest information hitting our eyeballs every time we refresh the web browser on our favorite news sites. And that makes us impatient. In Internet terms, two years is a long time, generations almost, and that’s how long it’s been since the Scandal broke open. And we want action. We don’t like to hear that things will take time to fix, especially since it seems like they only took moments, rather than the decades they actually took to get broken.
To that end, I see in myself a tendency to get impatient, especially with regard to my own pastor, Archbishop Sean O’Malley. I see priests who openly dissent from the Church’s teachings continue on in their seemingly privileged lives while good and orthodox priests are silenced. I see that programs that do damage to the innocence of children continue to be implemented in contradiction to the Church’s clear teachings. I see a bishop tell lawmakers that gay unions are okay, then backtrack halfheartedly a week later, giving those who want to undermine the sanctity of marriage ammunition to use. And I am frustrated.
But it’s only been four months since O’Malley was appointed. And in that time, he settled over 500 lawsuits pending against the archdiocese, concluding settlement talks that before him had reached an impasse. I am told that he is holding weekly meetings with all the young priests of the archdiocese, all those ordained less than five years, to pray with and encourage them. He has appointed new leaders to the seminary to clean up the remaining messes, to ensure that only good and holy priests are prepared for the archdiocese. I am told that in the Diocese of Fall River, a previous assignment, that 40 priests of the small diocese were removed from their pastorship during his stay there because they were teaching contrary to the divinely revealed truths of God.
It’s only been four months. I need to be patient. Some days it feels like the Titanic is sinking out from under us, but it isn’t. This is the Barque of Peter and it cannot sink. Yes, we can lose crew and passengers and every one lost is a cause for grief and sorrow. But I need to take the long view. I will not stop asking my bishop to teach us, reassure us, lead us, but I will also give him time and the benefit of the doubt.
And that’s most important. Until he takes an absolute step in one direction or the other that can’t be refuted then I will give him the benefit of the doubt and pray for him. It’s my Christian duty.