Cardinals and bishops attend the opening session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct 3. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Speaking Out: Staying faithful amidst a crisis

By  Vincent Pham, Speaking Out
  • October 4, 2018

Scrolling through my Facebook the past two months as the terrible scandals in the Catholic Church unraveled, my news feed was filled with commentary both disturbing and sad.

It is certain that there are many enraged Catholics — and non-Catholics — out there. There are some Catholics who want to leave the Church after learning of these revelations of clerical sex abuse. 

The latest revelations may also be discouraging to youth, especially in the light of this month’s Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment” in Rome.

A non-Catholic friend sent me an article a couple of weeks ago and asked me to help him clarify some facts about the Church. Honestly, it was embarrassing for me to have to discuss our current state. Such scandals distort the image of the clergy of the Catholic Church. 

This scandal is costing priests and bishops the trust of their flock. Due to this distrust, many Catholics and even some bishops think it is not the right time for the Synod of Bishops on Youth. Many do not trust Catholic bishops to steer the wheel of the future of the Catholic Church. 

 There are certainly “bad apples,” but I know for certain that there are many holy priests and bishops all over the world who strive to faithfully live out their vocation. It is unfair that the innocent clergy must suffer because of the sins and crimes of a fraction of their brother priests and bishops. 

The Youth Synod is needed more than ever to provide means for youth to safely live out their faith and clear any doubts and fears of answering a vocation, especially a priestly vocation. Through the Synod, we can renew the face of the Catholic Church. 

I believe this is a time to reflect on the reason why we are Catholic. We are Catholic because we believe in one God with three persons. We are Catholic because we believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and, through that, we sinners are saved. We are Catholic because we believe in one holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. Those truths we profess every week at Mass through the Creed. 

Nowhere in the Creed do we profess a perfect Catholic Church. The Catholic Church consists of human beings who are sinners. Ordained ministers are no exception to this reality. 

We must make it clear to ourselves that the Catholic Church, like any institution, has imperfect leaders and members, some who have made mistakes graver than others. Yet, this does not diminish the message of the Gospel. 

We cannot simply look at these scandals and make a judgment on the Church. There are many lay people and clergy who are living out the Gospel in their homes, schools, parishes, hospitals and even out in the streets as missionaries worldwide. There are still many Catholics around the world who religiously practise the faith. 

The media overlooks much of that, but we must not. 

(Pham, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Chaminade College School in Toronto, Ont.)

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