Sex. We dare to begin this edition of Wisdom Wednesday with this topic. Jim McDermott, writing in America, recalls his priesthood preparation training class on hearing confessions. He says,
We did case studies that hit all ten commandments, the seven deadly sins and, occasionally, the plotlines of major movies. . . . We talked about adultery, family conflicts, murder, work. But you know what we did not talk about much? Sex.”
Father McDermott offers “5 helpful guidelines” for priests hearing confessions.
Coincidentally, Flora x. Tang in National Catholic Reporter asks, “What if you experience harm instead of healing in the confessional?” She notes,
While the silence of the confessional booth creates a protective space for deeply personal sins to be freely confessed and absolved, this same silence and anonymity also cover up experiences of abuse and harm received in that space.”
ProPublica reports on a disturbing finding at Liberty University:
The school founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell ignored reports of rape and threatened to punish accusers for breaking its moral code, say former students. An official who says he was fired for raising concerns calls it a “conspiracy of silence.”
There is another significant topic, hidden in silence in some quarters: The world synod. Even if your diocese is not promoting the synod, Christine Schenk in NCR says, “No matter what, you can still participate.” She says synod events are being planned by ecclesial leaders of both “liberal” and “conservative” persuasions, but “if your diocese is balking, [you can] download synod resources, gather your friends and submit your feedback directly to the general secretariat by April 1, 2022.”
Massimo Faggioli, writing in La Croix International, says the Synodal process is the biggest consultation of the People of God in Church history. “But in the Christian tradition, the act of listening is always connected to reading” and “Many who belong to the Catholic gerontocracy are digitally illiterate, while people in other sections of the Church are illiterate in a more traditional sense of the word.”
[Reminder: AUSCP members have a free subscription to La Croix International.]
Speaking of the synod, here’s a quotation in a story from France, also in La Croix International. “I am amazed by the debate, openness and transparency shown by the synod and by the sometimes audacious, very free speeches.” That’s not from “our” synodal process, but rather from French Protestants.
Sex and the Synod are two topics not getting enough attention. But one horrifying aspect of human trafficking is being revealed, from Facebook, and reported by the Associated Press. You can do a quick search for “khadima,” or “maids” in Arabic, and you will find photographs of Africans and South Asians for sale. Their ages and prices are listed next to their images.
What’s happening this week?
From the Associated Press, “President Joe Biden heads to a vital U.N. climate summit at a time when a majority of Americans regard the deteriorating climate as a problem of high importance to them, an increase from just a few years ago.”
News Decoder, a global service for young people, has a straightforward explanation of the climate crisis: “Earth is headed towards unsustainably high temperatures. The jury is out whether world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow will be able to stave off disaster.”
Robert Mickens looks to a possible announcement from Pope Francis. He says, ‘if the Jesuit pope were to hold another consistory to make new cardinals before the end of this calendar year, it’s quite possible that the announcement could come this Sunday.”
An ongoing struggle for the pope: to reestablish the central place of Vatican II in the life of the Church. Massimo Faggioli analyzes the battle, and those who oppose Pope Francis.
The Rights of Priests
The Mutual Support Committee of the AUSCP has prepared a document delineating the rights of priests. It was prepared with the input of several canonists, bishops, and members of the Leadership Team. Along with the document is the text of a wallet card which the committee asks priests to print copies for themselves and their friends.
“You probably know of one or another priest who has been accused of sexual abuse, perhaps even yourself,” the document begins. “The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) is aware of such situations among its members and beyond. Some have been accused but exonerated. Others have been accused and convicted. Many others have been accused but ill-defined and protracted civil and ecclesial investigations leave them hanging for months and years. Some are never convicted or exonerated.”
We hope you have enjoyed this roundup of recent news about faith, politics, and culture. We will return next week with another edition of Wisdom Wednesday.
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