It's no time to lose faith

By  Samantha Hermack, Catholic Register Special
  • October 16, 2009
{mosimage}October has started out as a difficult month for Catholics in Antigonish and for those of us in New Brunswick too. The news of Bishop Raymond Lahey facing child pornography charges has been hard for all of us to accept. It is devastating to think that somebody in such a position of trust and respect would possess child pornography, especially when he had just been working to help victims of child abuse.

Watching the news and reading people’s comments online, it seems that many people have lost faith not only in Bishop Lahey, but in other priests, bishops and the Catholic Church itself.

Is this really the point in time when we should lose our faith? Do we have reason to stop trusting in our clergy and our church? My answer to both questions is “no.” We do indeed have reason to be sorrowful and deeply hurt, but we cannot let it destroy all that we believe.

Many years ago there was another man in a position of trust who abused his position and betrayed those who trusted him. His name was Judas Iscariot. Judas, one of Jesus’ 12 chosen disciples, betrayed his Lord, sealing the treachery with a kiss. Now, because Judas was a close disciple and friend of Jesus, would you say that all of the apostles were evil? Would you say that everything they  taught was wrong and  none of them could be trusted? Of course not! One man’s sin did not tarnish the entire group; in fact, Judas’ betrayal was used by God as the starting point for one of the greatest events in history, the event by which we are all saved. God twisted something evil into the Resurrection. Even the worst things in life can be used by God for His glory

Unfortunately, there have been thousands of reported cases of sexual abuse in the church across Canada and the United States. Just as sadly, there have been many cases of sexual abuse by teachers, parents, doctors, coaches and other people in positions of trust.

While I do not condone sexual abuse by clergy, as these are people who should know better, I believe we cannot judge the entire church based on a few of its members.

Estimates of child abuse among priests range between two and six per cent. At six per cent, that means 19 out of every 20 priests are still non-abusive. Studies done by people such as Charol Shakeshaft suggest that abuse by teachers is nearly 100 per cent more than that by priests.

While nobody should be allowed to get away with child abuse, we do not help anybody by becoming cynical. We should trust God, our church and our neighbours, aware that there are sinners in all walks of life. There is so much good in the world, and by focusing on the evil, we miss seeing the whole picture.

Bishops, priests, monks, nuns and lay people are all sinners, but many of them also do great things to help heal our world. They feed the hungry, heal the sick, save lives and bring us closer to God. Pray for all of those truly good people in the world, that they may do their jobs to glorify God, even when the odds seem to be against them.

(Hermack, 17 is a Grade 12 home-schooled student in Grand Bay-Westfield, N.B.)

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