Sermons

Summary: Church leaders are appointed to protect the flock. When the protectors become predators, you may be sure that God will shortly expose the sin and deliver judgement.

“Jerusalem sinned grievously;

therefore, she became filthy;

all who honored her despise her,

for they have seen her nakedness;

she herself groans

and turns her face away.” [1]

Shocked, disgusted, grieved, hurt—what a confused jumble of emotions flooded the heart of Christians when they learned the sordid details of the abuse of children perpetuated by priests throughout Pennsylvania. The report of the grand jury was released by the Attorney General of Pennsylvania in August, 2018. In graphic detail it laid bare the scandalous acts of over three hundred priests who had victimised over one thousand boys and girls for over seven decades. It is highly likely that many more children were victimised and for an even greater period of time, but this report provided details only for this period of time.

What was even more horrible was the fact that the report of the grand jury indicated that these priests had been excused and even sheltered by the hierarchy of the church throughout that period. Let the horror of that thought penetrate into your consciousness. Though they knew the evil deeds the priests had perpetuated on innocent children, leaders within the Catholic Church had moved predator priests around so they could avoid exposure and victims were counselled to remain quiet. The hierarchy routinely covered up the wickedness of the priests, regularly moving predators to where they could, and did, strike again. Leaders justified it as protecting the church from “scandal”—somehow ignoring the obscene scandal of their coverups.

Law enforcement officials were pressured to cease their investigations, which they did! In short, church leaders weaponised the Faith in order to institute a systematic cover-up campaign. Even the pope gave what is at best a tepid response to the disgraceful acts. Once the report had been\ released, it was disclosed that guilty individuals would likely never be held to account since the statute of limitations had run out for most of these crimes. Of three hundred one priests, only two are still subject to prosecution. The most damning portion of the report reveals, “monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected.” Then, expanding this horror, the report continues by stating, “many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.” [2] Now, we are being told of one hundred eighty-eight priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children over several decades in New Jersey. [3]

If these revelations were not enough to dishearten sincere Catholics, add the revelation that ex-Cardinal McCarrick had been defrocked for sexual abuse. [4] It is almost certain that this evil was not restricted to a few dioceses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Catholic communities in Chile, in Australia, in France and in Ireland have all reported similar scandals, some of which scandals are ongoing. Scandal has even touched Vatican City itself: At the beginning of the summer, Monsignor Carlo Alberto Capella was convicted by a Vatican court of distributing child pornography and sentenced to five years’ incarceration. In 2014, Monsignor Jozef Wesolowski, previously the Holy See’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, was defrocked for abusing young boys but died before facing criminal proceedings.

And now we read of sexually abusive Catholic nuns! More than fourteen percent of these nuns have been sexually abused themselves. Filled with unresolved rage, these nuns become physically and sexually abusive to children under their care. [5] It is evidence that sin is never confined to the one initiating the sinful behaviour, but like yeast spreading throughout the dough, sin contaminates everything. If ever there was need to confirm the pervasive nature of sin, surely this would qualify!

Evangelicals dare not gloat over the difficulties our Catholic friends have experienced. Horrific as the situation within the Catholic communion is, similar horror stories are emerging of what appears to be a systematic rot among Protestant and Evangelical churches. Recently, a sweeping investigation published in Texas newspapers detailed the horrific abuse of over 700 victims—some as young as three and four years of age—by more than 380 pastors in Southern Baptist churches. [6]

What was absolutely disgusting about these articles was the fact that in repeated instances, the accused pastors moved on to other churches. The churches in which these men were serving when first accused remained silent or, in some notable instances, actually wrote glowing recommendations in order to move them on to the next church. It was almost as if the churches adopted an “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. And the receiving church in far too many instances did not bother to check the credentials of those whom they were receiving. To be fair, most of those accused of sexual abuse were convicted and jailed; however, almost two dozen pastors, after being tried and convicted, were accepted into pastoral roles by churches!

Add to this the constant drip of news items over the past two decades as reports detail the corrosive impact emanating as Pentecostal pastors, Anglican priests, Presbyterian ministers, United Church of Canada ministers, and other religious leaders are charged with sexual and physical abuse of children and parishioners, and it becomes evident that a serious malady has infected the churches of our Lord. No denomination has been left unscathed, and the cause of Christ has received a black eye both from those who stand behind the sacred desk and from those who oversee the denominations.

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