Catholics around the world are outraged at their Church’s hierarchy, and they have a right to be.
For those of us living in the UD Bubble, it has been easy to shut out the clerical sexual abuse crisis which has been sweeping the Church to its core in these past few months.
Within the walls of the Vatican, the scandal began to unfold following the shocking revelations about the crimes of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
However, that the infection in the Church is spreading rapidly and hitting closer to home, it is becoming increasingly difficult to overlook.
On Jan. 31, according to The Texas Tribune, all fifteen of the Catholic dioceses in Texas released “every credible allegation of sexual abuse going back as far as the 1940s and 1950s.”
In total, the Catholic Diocese of Dallas report included 31 clerics who are suspected of having engaged in criminal sexual activity.
Fourteen of these clerics, including Reverend Edmundo Paredes, the former pastor of St. Cecilia’s Church in Dallas and a graduate of our own Holy Trinity Seminary, are still alive.
The investigation of Paredes’ case began in May 2017, when it was discovered that the rector of 27 years had stolen $60,000 to $80,000 from his parish.
After Paredes verified the allegations, he was suspended from the ministry and removed from St. Cecilia’s in June 2017. Then he fled.
The investigation is far from over. While his financial misconduct was reviewed, officials discovered evidence of sexual crime in Paredes’ record.
According to The Dallas Morning News, they found “that he had molested three boys in their mid-teens more than a decade but less than twenty years ago.”
This past August, The Dallas Morning News published several articles about the Paredes case and also looked back at “the Past Sins of Holy Trinity Seminary [which] Continue to Haunt the Dallas Diocese.”
According to an article titled, “How Rudy Kos Happened,” published by The Dallas Magazine in 1998, in the mid-1970s, Holy Trinity Seminary was a place that seemingly attracted and supported a homosexual community.
It was in this era that Paredes received his priestly formation.
Bishop Edward Burns revealed the news of Paredes’ part in the sexual abuse crisis this past August. Parishioners were outraged. They cried out for assurance, transparency and justice.
This cry for a restoration of trust in the clergy has been echoing in this state, the nation and world.
Pope Francis has been forced to face this calumny undermining the Church. However, he seems to be doing so rather reluctantly. On several occasions, rather than speaking about the tough decisions coming, the Holy Father has opted to downplay the issue and warn the Church about seeking out scandal and schism.
In response to the Pontiff’s relative silence on the issue, many of the faithful are forced to ask, “Holy Father, how can we be silent when you, who have an obligation to speak for us, refuse to do so?”
The pope’s famous statement, “Who am I to judge?” summarizes his reluctance to speak.
However, it is the duty of the pope to teach, sanctify and rule. Pope Francis ought to take this issue up strongly, to lead with grace and certainty against the dangers of this scandal.
Despite lacking the abundance of constructive rhetoric the Pontiff ought to offer his flock, the Holy Father has called a meeting of bishops in February in order to “restate [the Church’s firm resolve to pursue unstintingly a path of purification … to protect children, to avoid these tragedies.”
As Catholics, members of this tightly knit Catholic community or persons who detest these crimes, we can pray that this meeting will help to resolve these issues so deeply embedded in the Church’s past.
Catholics, dependent as we are on the clerical hierarchy, have a right to feel wronged. Christ foresaw this situation in the Church and warned the apostles of it.
In Matthew, chapter 18, he says: “Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must be that scandals come … woe to that man by whom scandal cometh … See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of My Father.”
Comfort can be found in knowing that Christ is the Good Shepherd the Head of His Church. He will be with us “all days, even unto the consummation of the world.”
We, the members of Christ’s Body, must endure the storm, loving truth and justice and living accordingly.
Our faith in Christ and His One, Catholic, Apostolic and above all, Holy Church, is our deep-rooted conviction, our anchor.
“O Jesus, I pray for your faithful and fervent priests; for your unfaithful and tepid priests … for your tempted priests; for your lonely and desolate priests; for your young priests; for your dying priests; for the souls of your priests in Purgatory.” -St. Therese of Lisieux