I was chatting to a fellow parishioner on Sunday, over tea and biscuits (we're very civilised in this part of Wales - must be the Roman influence), and amongst the plethora of topics we skimmed across was corruption in the Church. He mentioned that the alleged selling of Catholic knighthoods had been in the paper that very day.
As I said to him, the issue of corruption - and much else besides - should not be swept under the carpet (we've surely learnt the lesson of the paedophile scandal which occurred mostly under the watch of John Paul II), but the sad thing is that the media use the bad actions of a few men to try to bring about the collapse of a God-made institution; whereas men of good will (I hesitate to include myself) would like to see the corruption and scandals removed and (to use the parlance of Minder's Arthur Daley) 'sorted,' for the good of both the Church and Catholics as a whole. The former group act out of malice and hatred of the Catholic Church, the latter out of charity and love of the Catholic Church.
FR J HARDON SJ
In his book Always With Us, about the Real Presence and the Sacramental Nature of Our Lord in the Sacred Species, Fr J. Hardon SJ says that the Church historically always, even from its first days, accepted the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, i.e. that Transubstantiation was a fact of life, and it was only later during various heresies through history that the Church clearly outlined the nature of the Blessed Sacrament, most especially at the Council of Trent, which was the start of the Counter Reformation - that Holy and blessed council of the Church which gave the 'ammunition' its 'troops in the field' needed to beat back the errors of the protestants in places as diverse as Italy, Hungary and Poland.
Holy Church cleaned out the stables, got to grips with abuses, and a purified, invigorated Catholicism burst forth in a Counter-Reformation which was based on sound Scripture and the Traditions of the Church going back to the earliest days of the Church. It was this Church Council that gave us the Tridentine Mass (now known as the 'Extraordinary Form'), and a fighting Faith that took Catholicism to all four corners of the world. It was this Faith, not new at all, but purified, codified and swept clean of errors, that produced so many Saints, so many converts, such a deep love of the Mass that many were martyred from Japan to Wales, from the Americas to Africa, to stand as witnesses for Catholic Truth.
That it took the shock, lies and half-truth of the protestant "reformation" to bring about the Council of Trent is something that Fr. Hardon places in the history of the Church, as heresies before it had brought such beautifully clear explanations to the Faithful on the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
Might we hope that the abuses of recent years might eventually lead to a purified, invigorated Catholicism which we surely need to fight back the tidal wave of secularism, rationalism and atheism currently holding sway?
On Tuesday morning there was a report on the BBC's Radio Wales concerning corruption at the Wales Audit Office (WAO), the boss of which, Jeremy Coleman, was jailed last November after a paedophile scandal. There is another scandal erupting concerning the WAO and the misuse of funds. On the radio report the WAO was suggesting that this matter should not be passed over to the police and that we should 'move on' (in that Blairite way).
It leaves one feeling deeply uneasy. If a crime is committed, whether it be in the goldfish bowl of Welsh politics or in the invasion of Iraq, when should it ever be a case of "let's move on" or "let's draw a line under it?" If something looks like a crime, then it should be investigated thoroughly, so that the guilty are punished and the innocent totally cleared. Anything else is wrong because it lets the guilty 'off the hook' and the innocent be convicted by rumour.
The paedophile scandal in the Catholic Church, primarily in the 60s, 70s and 80s, is a lesson in this. Just as with any abuse of power, any abuse of trust, there needs to be clarity and justice. With a thirst for justice and the return to stern rules for seminaries (e.g. on the absolute non-admittance to those with homosexual tendencies) the Church can at least come out of another period of trial and scandal strengthened, purified, and its stance against moral evils such as abortion, homosexuality and contraception, will in turn be strengthened.
During the protestant "reformation" many voices were raised against the Church and it was accused of all manner of abuses, corruption and hypocrisy. The Church did not surrender to the whims of the world, but came out with a strengthened Catholicism, whilst stamping down on genuine abuses.
Let us pray that in the shadow of so many abuses in today's Church (whether sexual, monetary or liturgical) that the Holy Spirit will move the Church to grasp her traditions and come out fighting against the relativist agenda of her enemies.
Until it does so it will always be accused of turning a blind eye to abuses, scandals and the actions of a few, who have done more harm to the Church established by Jesus Christ than 100 reformations.