I am a lifelong practicing Roman Catholic. I am now a member of parish in Kirkwood, Missouri. I have not been a victim of abuse.
I have seen the efforts of my Church to deal with victims of abuse by priests and I don’t see the matter being handled in the way in which I was brought up in my faith. The examples of selflessness, compassion and dedication to the Gospels which I have experienced throughout my life in the Church are inconsistent with what continues to be a serious threat to the continued existence of the Roman Catholic Church as a faithful expression of the Gospels of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Roman Catholic Church efforts to reconcile with its victims of sexual abuse are failing. The failure has been because of a lack of willingness upon the part of Church leaders to simply ask, humbly and contritely, for forgiveness from those which they have harmed. It is incomprehensible to any adherent to a faith which professes to be a true expression of the Gospels of Jesus Christ that someone who has harmed another would not seek to reconcile themselves to that fellow Church member and God by asking forgiveness. The leadership in the Roman Catholic Church needs a refresher course on the Sacrament of Reconciliation (formerly Penance).
Roman Catholic Sacraments are outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace. The Sacraments are rooted in the Gospels, and in the case of Reconciliation, in the role of a priest as an intermediary. Christ told the Apostles what they bind and unbind on earth shall be bound and unbound in heaven; it is in this teaching that the Church has its roots for the role of the priest as intermediary for our seeking temporal repair for sins against God. The process is one whereby a sinner may reconcile themselves with God and restore themselves to God’s grace.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation has three essential parts; the penitent forms the proper mindset acknowledging they have done wrong against God, “confessing” sins before a priest and, requesting and obtaining absolution from the priest. The Roman Catholic Church has an obligation to set itself right by its victims in order to remain a true expression of the Gospels of Jesus Christ. In the matter of abuse victims, the roles are reversed. It is the Church through its leaders, and if necessary its members, which must form the proper mindset and acknowledge its wrongdoing. It is the Church through its leaders, and if necessary its members, which must confess its sins to those which it has harmed. It is the Church through its leaders, and if necessary its members, which must request and obtain absolution from those which it has harmed.
No one can know how forgiveness for the sins of the Church would look but, the first step is to ask. If Church leaders will not do so, then it falls to members to do so if the Roman Catholic Church is to remain a true expression of the Gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ.