Bernardo M. Villegas
By BERNARDO VILLEGAS
April 15, 2010, 5:55pm
I fully agree with Mayor Edward I. Koch, the Mayor of New York City, and a Jew. Those who have been very vocal in attacking the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI for the sexual abuse of children by a few Roman Catholic priests in countries like Ireland, Germany and the United States have an axe to grind. They are no longer interested in the truth but are pushing their respective anti-Catholic agenda. Mayor Koch, in a column in The New York Post last April 6, 2010, did not mince any word: “Many of those in the media who are pounding on the Church and the Pope today clearly do it with delight and some with malice. The reason I believe for the constant assaults is that there are many in the media and some Catholics as well as many in the public who object to and are incensed by positions the Church holds, including opposition to all abortion, opposition to gay sex and same-sex marriage, retention of celibacy rules for priest, exclusion of women from the clergy, opposition to birth control measures involving condoms and prescription drugs and opposition to civil divorce.”
Well, if the critics of the Catholic teachings on these issues think that using the sex abuse scandals will soften the stand of the Pope against these acts which are considered by Catholic morals as intrinsically evil, they are in for a surprise. Although Mayor Koch candidly admits that he disagrees with the Church on all those points, he has enough intellectual honesty to recognize that the Church has the right to demand fulfillment of all of its religious demands by its parishioners, and indeed a right to espouse its beliefs generally. He quotes a good friend of his, John Cardinal O’Oconnor: “The Church is not a salad bar, from which to pick and choose what pleases you.” Let this be a reminder to columnists and others in the local press who think that they can soften the stand of the Filipino bishops against the Reproductive Health Bill (which promotes the inherently evil artificial contraceptives) by constantly raking up the sex abuse scandals.
Mayor Koch gives us an example of objectivity in assessing this sordid happenings in the Catholic Church: “The sexual molestation of children, principally boys, is horrendous. This is agreed to by everyone, Catholics, the Church itself, as well as non-Catholics and the media. The Pope has on a number of occasions on behalf of the Church admitted fault and asked for forgiveness. For example, The New York Times reported on April 18, 2008 that the Pope, “came face to face with a scandal that has left lasting wounds on the American church Thursday, holding a surprise meeting with several victims of sexual abuse by priests in the Boston area…’No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse,’ the Pope said in his homily. ‘It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention.’”
The Mayor zeroes in on what he considers the fatal human error of the superiors of the offending priests: “The primary explanation for the abuse that happened–not to excuse the retention of priests in positions that enable them to continue to harm children–was the belief that the priests could be cured by psychotherapy, a theory now long discarded by the medical profession. Regrettably, it is also likely that years ago the abuse of children was not taken as seriously as today. Thank God we’ve progressed on that issue.”
Catholics who practice the theological virtue of faith, without being insensitive to the sufferings of the victims, may actually strengthen their adherance to the teachings of the Catholic Church as infallibly taught by the Pope. They know that this is not the first time in the more than 2,000 years of the history of the Catholic Church that we are witnessing some rottenness from within. Without the constant protection of the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church, if it were only a human institution, would have long disappeared.
But as Jesus Christ Himself promised, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church that He founded. Mayor Koch, who considers himself a Conservative Jew and attends an Orthodox synagogue, also knows how to quote from the New Testament in asking the critics to stop their anti-Catholic attacks: “He (or she) that is without sin among you, let him (or her) cast the next stone.” (John 8:7) For comments, my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.