Our Church Needs Cleansing
And it needs to start with us clergy.
What is happening within our church today is causing much anguish and upset to many. Some, of course, prefer not to know about it, and that is understandable. Others have become angry and bitter - and while there is a place for legitimate anger, bitterness comes from the evil one.
But there are problems that need to be faced, nor can there be the revitalisation of our church until they are faced.
The Church is now facing up to the child abuse crisis, and thank God for that! But just dealing with child abuse will not bring the revitalisation of our Church. In a sense the case of former cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, is a symbol of the wrong thinking within our Church.
When it was discovered that there is a credible allegation against him of child abuse, the situation was dealt with properly. However prior to that emerging, despite all the allegations against him, and even settlements having been made by two dioceses, he was allowed to continue on his merry way. We cannot hope for revival until this attitude changes drastically.
God is saying to us, "Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." Rev 2:5
"All Have Sinned"
When I was a young teenager, the civil rights leader, Rev Martin Luther King was held before us as a living saint. This image has continued to be fostered to this day, with his assassination in 1968 giving him something of a martyr's status. Recently declassified FBI documents, however, suggest he was a sexual predator who preyed on dozens of women. The FBI suspected him of ties with Russia. (Nothing changes, does it!!). Because of this, the rooms he stayed in were almost always bugged. While the actual tapes won't be released for another 8 years, transcripts have been released. They do not reveal any ties with Russia. What they do reveal sadly is that the Rev King, together with the circle of ministers around him, exploited King's fame to obtain women for sex, with sex orgies similar to those revealed in the trial of two Ulster rugby players. In the June Diary I stated, "There is a basic flaw in the human condition and it very often manifests itself especially in our sexuality." As the psalmist cried out, "All have become corrupt. Will the workers of iniquity never learn?" Psalm 53:3-4
"All Have Sinned"
In recent correspondence, one person asked, "Do you not have any gay friends, Fr. Thady?" The implication is that if I had gay friends, my understanding of the teaching of Jesus would be somehow modified. It is true that sometimes we can see God working in and through people whose lives do not appear to meet Gospel criteria. That does not mean, however, that they are within God's plan for their lives. Using what we see in people around us as a criteria for what is right before God is a flawed approach. Indeed many have been deceived by those close to them, thinking that people are 'good people' or 'godly people' who are far from good or godly in their hearts. Take a recent incident in the municipal buildings in Virginia Beach, USA. Wayne Craddock was known to his co-workers as a good and loyal worker. But recently he shot dead twelve of his co-workers in what was clearly a premeditated attack. There have also been a number of 'cold case' murders solved in America where the identity of the murderer came as a major shock to his neighbours. Likewise, for myself, the contents of the Ferns Report back in 1997 into abuse in my diocese, came as a major shock. "LORD, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you." Jeremiah 14:20
What We Remember
At our recent 45th class reunion, Fr. Dan Cavanagh (Rosbercon) utterly amazed me when he was able to list off the names of all 79 students who joined with us back in 1967, and even which diocese they belonged to. Not merely did I not remember a third of them, but I had the annoyance with myself afterwards to realise that a story I shared supposedly involving one classmate was a false memory. It was actually a different classmate - whichone would think that I should have remembered since I sat beside him for a full year or more. The reality is that we all have different capacities to remember the past, something we should be aware of when we believe that someone should have remembered something. Sometimes, however, if a warning we received does not come back to us even when we are reminded of it, it can be an indication that, at the time, we were not sufficiently interested for it to register in our minds."Listen to me, my people, when I give you warnings" Psalm 81:8