Anger. Hurt. Sorrow. Confusion. Misleading. Distrust. Disillusionment.

Emotions many Catholics around the world are likely experiencing, and one could argue with good reason.

Once again, allegations of clergy abuse are rocking the Catholic Church, and although this is not the first such scandal, perhaps none have been as far reaching, from affecting nearly an entire state to landing high in the church’s hierarchy.

In mid-June, allegations of abuse to a minor implicating then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick were found to be credible. He submitted his letter of resignation from the Cardinalate to the Vatican on July 27, which Pope Francis accepted one day later. Although he remains a priest, Archbishop McCarrick was suspended from public ministry by Pope Francis.

That was followed by reports an investigation had been launched into potential abuse at a Boston seminary. The allegations remain under investigation.
The latest and most impactful bombshell dropped Aug. 14 when a grand jury released findings of systemic clergy abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses, implicating more than 300 priests and identifying more than 1,000 victims.

The outcry among Catholics has justifiably been outrage. If, indeed, the allegations are eventually proven to be accurate, then an entire congregation will be shaken, wondering how church leaders could be so blatantly irresponsible in their handling of priests engaging in adult on adult abuse as well as alleged pedophiles placing so many youth in harm’s way.

Many Catholics are doubting their own faith, and others, not surprising, are questioning leaving the faith for another denomination or totally eschewing organized religion.

Such questions only breed additional and far more difficult questions.

As Catholics, we must recognize that the church is made up of human beings. Our clergy members, our bishops, our cardinals, even our pope, are human beings, and are inherently flawed, as are the flock they shepherd. Clergy members are not absolved from facing the same temptations, grappling with the same desires, haunted by the same demons that the laity confront daily, which is not to say that all priests, or the laity are pedophiles, just that they are human.

Should the clergy be held to a higher standard? One could easily advance the argument they should but ordination does not guarantee human perfection.

 And one should never lose sight of the fact the overwhelming majority of priests, especially those in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, are faith-filled and of high moral character who, unfortunately, are suffering because of the heinous acts perpetrated many years ago by a small minority of rogue colleagues.

For those considering bailing out of the Catholic faith, what would be the best option? No religious denomination has ever gone unscathed.

Some ardently maintain celibacy is the church’s spiritual Achilles heel. But while many contend eradicating celibacy might be a step in the right direction it is not the magic elixir. For more than 1,000 years priests were allowed to be married, yet the church still faced countless scandals.

Even then, it was a church of flawed human beings.

Finally, and most importantly, only the Catholic Church offers the opportunity to receive the true body and blood of Christ. The Eucharist is the very foundation of the church, the very foundation upon which we build our faith, our beliefs, our lives.

Although it’s easy to get caught up in the scandal, the dysfunction and even the politics of the church, justifiable anger should never dictate emotions. Faith is rooted in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Trinity, in the true body and blood of the Lord, with the promise of eternal salvation. No fellow human being, either by their actions, no matter how heinous, or their words, should ever be allowed to shake that foundation.