Friday, April 02, 2010

"The Elephant in the Cathedral"

Especially as some attendees at Pittsburgh's Chrism Mass -- one of the relative few still held on Holy Thursday morning -- wrote in about it, today's Post-Gazette finds Ann Rodgers' report on the "emotional homily" given at yesterday's rite by 'Burgh Bishop David Zubik:
"There is no way we can mark this great moment in our liturgical year ... without recognizing the elephant in the cathedral," he said.

His litany of pain ranged from harm done to victims to what he described as biased media coverage.

"I ache. I'm sick and tired. I'm angry. I'm insulted. I'm confronted by the headlines of newspapers and ongoing stories that seek to once again annihilate the body of Christ," he said, preaching without notes from the pulpit of St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.

"It would be an absolute lie on my part to stand here today to say we bear no responsibility for great sins committed in the past by people who were trusted leaders of the church, by priests, deacons, bishops and others. So that is not what gives me the ache.

"What gives me the ache is not only the hunger and thirst to rush to judgment without an honest look at the facts, but the absolute hatred ... and disrespect for who we are and especially for what we believe."...

In an interview, Bishop Zubik said some stories implied that Cardinal Ratzinger had been in charge of sex abuse cases since 1981, when he only took over that duty in 2001. Bishop Zubik credits the pope with being far stronger in his efforts to remove predators than anyone before him.

"The conclusion they're drawing is that the pope is guilty and they're not looking at all the facts," he said.

In his homily, he named many groups who he said his heart ached for. They included "anyone who has been victimized by a priest or deacon or bishop or mother or father or teacher" and for families of those victims "who carry the heavy cross of what their sibling or son or daughter has been through."

He cited faithful priests who live under a cloud of suspicion and Catholics tempted to leave the church due to shame.

"I ache for the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, who ... has spoken out not only on the wrong and the sin, but especially the crime, of abuse," he said.

But all of this pain, he said, comes from the sin that Jesus died to atone for.

"We would not be celebrating the Eucharist today if God did not ache," he said.
...this time last year, the native-son prelate voiced a similar "litany of pain" as he presided over a Holy Week Service of Apology, planned on his own initiative to beg the forgiveness of anyone harmed or hurt from within the church.

At the cathedral prayer -- which was closed to cameras -- Zubik apologized in these words:
In a very real moment of woundedness, I stand before you tonight as Shepherd of the Church of Pittsburgh and embrace the presence of each of you, women and men, who come here tonight showing by your presence that somewhere, sometime in your life you have been hurt by someone who was entrusted to represent Jesus and His Church, but failed to do so. Some of you have already expressed your hurt; for many others of you, you do so this night by your being here. You call me, as leader of the Church of Pittsburgh, to not only not forget the sins of those who have hurt you, but you charge me with the need to continue to work to secure that the sins not happen again.

As I stand before you, I see also the face of Christ, the Jesus who met Peter on the seashore, confronting Peter’s betrayal. Your very presence here tonight both painful and trusting, confronts the need for the Church to ask forgiveness from you and the opportunity to renew your trust in the Church as Jesus renewed His trust in Peter.

To those of you who looked for the compassion of Christ in the sacrament of Penance but found only scolding and harsh judgment in return—I ask you, the Church asks you, for forgiveness.

To those of you who found sacred moments in your life and the life of your family (baptisms, weddings, funerals) met with callous, heartless, unfeeling, un-Christian-like attention to your need—I ask you, the Church asks you, for forgiveness.

To those of you who are here tonight who have in any way been the victims of any abuse, sexual or otherwise, whether as a child or as an adult, or as a parent, or sibling, or friend who shared in the pain of that someone you love—I ask you, the Church asks you, for forgiveness.

To those of you who came to the Church, rightly expecting her to help you understand the rich tradition of our teachings and traditions, but met with a less than half-hearted response—I ask you, the Church asks you, for forgiveness.

To those of you who have been hurt by the poor judgment of others entrusted with leadership—I ask you, the Church asks you, for forgiveness.

To those of you who believed in the Church to be a voice against prejudice but found, rather, a deafening silence—I ask you, the Church asks you, for forgiveness.

To those of you who looked to the leaders of the Church—lay, religious or ordained—to give good example but met, rather, with a philosophy that said: “Do as I say, not as I do,”—I ask you, the Church asks you, for forgiveness.

To those of you who needed the Church to be with you in sickness, in grief, in trauma, in turmoil, but found her representatives to be too busy—I ask you, the Church asks you, for forgiveness.

To those of you who have offered your talents for the mission of the Church, but experienced an injustice in the Church’s workplace—I ask you, the Church asks you, for forgiveness.

For whatever ways any representative of the Church has hurt, offended, dismissed, ignored, any one of you—I ask you, the Church asks you, for forgiveness.

For any ways that I personally, as your Bishop, whether in speech or deed, by omission and commission, have disappointed, not heard, or dismissed you, I ask you for your forgiveness....

With all the love in my heart and with all the sincerity in my soul, you can be assured that I will do all that I am able to do to restore your trust in the Church and to work together with you to reflect the very love, compassion, mercy of Jesus Himself in and through the Church.
PHOTO: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette File