From The Hand of Fr. Aaron Ferris For February 10, 2019

One of the chief areas of concern for many people regarding the priests who abused children is why it seems so many in the Church covered up the abuse. The simple answer, of course, and one that is certainly true in some (many?) situations, is that people covered up the crimes of others in order to save face and to avoid appearing on the front page of the newspaper. Everyone has at least been tempted to lie in order to not get caught doing something wrong, so there should be nothing surprising about this.

Another important factor, though, is that decades ago there was a culture-wide faith in the ability of psychological treatment to cure any number of mental and emotional problems. We know better now; we know better the good that counseling, therapy, and medications can do, but we also know better the limits. That has taken decades of experience, though.

This reality ties into one of the chief works of the Church: forgiveness and redemption. If those in charge believed that they could heal the sick in mind through psychological treatment, then it would be easy to think that they should be about doing that. And, if someone comes out of treatment having been declared by the experts to be cured, then why not put them back into service? Why not let someone who has been saved and redeemed go back to work to heal the damage they have caused?

In principle it sounds good. Think of the recovering alcoholic or drug addict who works the Twelve Steps, makes amends to those he has hurt, and strives to help others overcome their addictions. That is a good and noble thing.

Abusing children, though, is not the same as alcoholism. We know that all too well now. Many knew it years ago, and to our shame, still carried on with placing abusers in parishes. There is no excuse for this, but many situations are often more complex because often good people do bad things for seemingly good reasons, and innocent people, innocent children, suffer. Good people suffer at the hands of people trying to do good.

This is not to excuse or justify the evil people who did evil things nor those who simply tried to cover­ up the crimes in order to save face. There are evil people in the world; there are evil people in the Church. This has been true since Judas betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Many, though, like Peter denied Jesus, or like the other nine disciples ran away, because they couldn’t rise to face the difficult situation to their shame and to the harm of others.

Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron R. Ferris Ordination Date: June 6, 2009 Pastor, St. Anthony Parish (Saranac) and St. Mary’s Parish (Lowell) 402 Amity Street Lowell, MI 49331 Phone: 616-897-9820
%d bloggers like this:
Skip to toolbar