Armstrong Williams

The latest wave of abuses created seismic reverberations as stories percolated to the highest echelons of the Catholic inner circle – including Pope Benedict XVI himself. Such episodes unfortunately are not isolated to America alone. In Latin America – a Catholic bastion – the same sickening behavior haunted parishioners in countries such as Mexico and Brazil. The latest reared its head in March with allegations of sexual abuse of altar boys in Germany. Ireland, too, produced reports detailing repeated advances and sexual violations by clerics

Clearly, there’s a problem, but is the average layman aware of the church moving to offer a solution? Judgment of any sort? What punishments have been meted out? Has anyone in the church gone to jail for such crimes?

As a society, we have a zero tolerance policy for these predators. Yet with the church, tacit acknowledgment translates into passive condolence. It’s almost as if leadership has adopted some twisted version of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in hopes it will all go away.

To put it bluntly, the politics of religion is impacting the practice of religion in the church, and doing irreparable harm as a consequence.

I speak for millions when I say I’m disappointed in the current leadership of the Catholic Church. And the church, frankly speaking, should be disappointed in itself.

The times are too demanding and so many are in need of its leadership that something must be changed. The church can't afford to be on the sidelines of moral leadership. Not now.

For centuries it was known as the purveyor of truth – a corporate body of fallible men, yes, but speaking for an infallible God. Today it seems as though the institution is wandering in the wilderness; its greatest sin is that of situational ethics.

These actions are the failings of man, not the failings of a great theocracy-based, God-fearing sanctuary. No one is above the law, not the laws of man and certainly not the laws of God.

By sweeping this under the rug, the church is saying when things skate too close to the Pope himself, then perhaps it’s time if the public backed off a little - in the interests of the church and all the good it’s done through the centuries. To hear their argument, drawing attention to our one fault, our one sin, potentially blots out the benevolent things we’ve done. Or in the case of these pedophiles, the benevolent things they’ve done. Is it asking too much to overlook their predatory behavior?

Critics will say I’ve taken too many liberties with this column. That I’m overlooking key developments or that such talk will only serve to weaken the church. I want to see a stronger Catholic church. One that leads. Not one that is sheepish or keeps to the shadows because of unconfessed sins and unreconciled behaviors.

We stand in the midst of questionable times. Doubt creeps and lurks all around us. Like the great economic and political revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries, they also contained equally powerful spiritual revivals such as the Second Great Awakening. We need such a revival. Our very souls cry out for such an awakening. The Catholic Church should take up that mantle, but first it must get right with its Maker.

Armstrong Williams

Armstrong Williams is a widely-syndicated columnist, CEO of the Graham Williams Group, and hosts the Armstrong Williams Show. He is the author of Reawakening Virtues.
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