Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Heaven and earth

According to press reports Roger Cardinal Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, was attacked last summer after dropping some letters in a mail box in downtown Los Angeles, near of Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral. Apparently, the attack was quite brutal, causing His Eminence to be hospitalized. The assault was apparently related to the sex abuse scandal, which the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has recently paid $660 million dollars in claims to compensate victims.

Cardinal Mahony did not report the assault to police, instead choosing, according to a priest of the Los Angeles archdiocese, to offer it up as reparation for sins committed by abusing priests. Cardinal Mahony himself has not spoken publicly about this matter, but has discussed it with priests of his archdiocese.

I bring all of this up because without a doubt what has come to light these past few years in many dioceses across the country has been shocking, disappointing, and very discouraging to us all. Nonetheless, we must keep our bishops in our prayers constantly. Without a doubt, even in relatively small dioceses, the duties and responsibilities of a bishop are always demanding and frequently difficult. At the end of the day, we are all human beings, with our strengths, our weaknesses, our blindspots, and areas in which we are very perceptive. We are a communion of saints and sinners. Each one of us is a microcosm in which there exists saintliness alongside sinfulness. This is precisely why we need community, communion, to pray for each other and to help each other discover our true identity as daughters and sons of a loving Father who together make-up the Body of Christ. Advent is a particularly good time to focus on the incompleteness of this world and to focus on our hope, Jesus Christ, "the light [who] shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (Jn 1,5).

In an interview with NCR's John Allen during last month's consistory, Cardinal Mahony, speaking of the Holy Father's upcoming visit to these United States, put all this very well:

"I think it's also important to acknowledge the faith of our people, especially during the six or seven years of this crisis. Our people have remained so faith-filled. They realize that the church is not about perpetrators of sexual abuse, it's about Jesus Christ and his abiding presence with the church. That's the core."

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