The Flame: November/December 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The news reports about the clergy sex abuse scandal during the second half of this year have been disturbing and disheartening. More reports are on the horizon as many states are following the lead of Pennsylvania by calling grand juries to investigate the records of the Catholic dioceses.

Pope Francis is responding in two ways. He has called for a full investigation into the Archbishop McCarrick situation. He has also called for a meeting in Rome of the heads of the National Conferences of Catholic Bishops throughout the world to discuss clergy sex abuse. That meeting will take place in February 2019.

How are we to respond to all of this? Here are three ways.

gratefulReparation: Prayers, sacrifices, Holy Hours and rosaries offered to the Lord on behalf of the victims and perpetrators of these horrific actions express to the Lord our sorrow as well as our desire for forgiveness, mercy and healing. Some parishes are hosting Holy Hours for this explicit purpose. We want to let the Lord know we are sorry and that we care. We may think, “What did I do wrong?” Hopefully nothing! All the more pleasing to the Lord are those who intercede for the common good and seeking His mercy. As the Psalmist says, “We are His people, the flock He shepherds.” (Psalm 100:3c) I believe that there is a special grace when we come before the Lord as a community.

Spiritual Warfare: Pope Francis has called the whole Church to engage in spiritual warfare. The Pope frankly acknowledges that the root of these egregious sins is the devil. We need to combat him. This may sound intimidating. However, Pope Francis simply asked the Church to pray the Rosary and the St. Michael Prayer in the month of October. And though October is passed, there is no reason we cannot continue to pray these prayers daily for the purification of the Church. Again, God hears his people who cry to Him with faith and humility.

Keep the Faith: Some people are tempted to drop out of the Church or believing in God altogether. They think, “If this is the Catholic Church, I want no part of it.” Sometimes facts from outside the Church can add some balance. This is from an article by Dr. Plante in Psychology Today:
According to the best available data (which is pretty good, coming from a comprehensive report by the John Jay College of Justice in 2004, as well as several other studies), four percent of Catholic priests in the U.S. sexually victimized minors during the past half century. No evidence has been published at this time which states this number is higher than clergy from other religious traditions. The four percent figure appears lower than school teachers during the same time frame, and certainly less than offenders in the general population of men.
(Six Myths About Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church by Dr. Thomas G. Plante, Phd. ABPP, www.psychologytoday.com)
The article went on to debunk the myth that celibacy was the cause of this abuse.

In the end, these sins are sins! Statistics may put things in perspective. However, they do not justify these actions. I pray that the uncovering of these sins will lead to a greater purification of the Church and a more robust proclamation of Christ and the manner of life He gives us. However, this can only happen if we resist yielding to anger, despair and the like. We must continue to live as faithful Catholics.

Now I must change the topic. Practically speaking The Flame has a great need. Our editor, Theresa Virkler is stepping back as editor. THANK YOU THERESA FOR BEING A FAITHFUL SERVANT OF THE LORD! When Theresa became the editor of The Flame things were much more labor intensive. It involved driving to Parma to drop off a hard copy of The Flame to the printer. Once printed, it was picked up and transported to remarkable, steadfast, volunteers to be folded, labeled and carefully placed into several mail trays. On completion, it was hauled out to Wickliffe to the local Post Office where it was mailed. Besides straining her brain and eyes (along with recommendations from exceptional individuals who Flameproofed the newsletter), she put a lot of miles on her car. Again, thank you and those in The Flame ministry, past and present, for this labor of love. May the Lord richly reward you all.

If you are interested in working with The Flame, please contact me (franco@stpeternr.org or 440-327-2201) as soon as possible. By the way, driving to the printer, volunteer's homes and the Post Office is no longer necessary. Thank God for automation and electronic communication.

Final word: Amid the trials of our earthly journey, we have much to be grateful for. As we enter the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I pray that the Holy Spirit fill you with ever deepening gratitude for God’s blessings, as well as a deeper comprehension of the person of Jesus Christ, the New Born King and our sure hope!

In Christ,
Fr. Bob Franco
Bishop’s Delegate to Catholic Renewal Ministries