About a week ago, one of the Baptist pastors with whom I've had some correspondence decided he'd had enough dialogue for a while. He wrapped up his comments to me with one follow-up email attacking the Catholic Church on the grounds of the sex abuse scandal involving a small percentage of Catholic priests as well as the poor decisions made by a number of Bishops in dealing with these priests. When I have a chance, I'll ask this pastor if he would allow me to share his email, which basically made the "we'll know the tree by its fruits" argument to claim that the Catholic Church is an evil institution. (Bunk.) For now, I simply post my response:
Indeed, the scourge and scandal of sin within the Catholic hierarchy is shameful. I'll be the first to tell you. (For that matter, every one of my own personal sins is scandalous and shameful, and if not for the grace of God, there is no telling what evil I myself could accomplish.)
I myself met a homosexual priest during my time in San Francisco, and one encounter that I had with him at the end of my first semester (he simply said "we'll miss you" in a look that made me extraordinarily uncomfortable) convinced me to stay miles away from that Church.
There is probably a lot about this situation that you do not fully understand, and so it is going to be difficult help you distinguish between how you imagine the situation and what the situation actually is. Remember that the media absolutely hates the Catholic Church, and so the media will take details and twist them in the way they get reported to make the situation seem worse than it is.
Now...the situation is frighteningly terrible, and it shows the work of Satan in our midst. But, Satan's work is further accomplished when Christians believe the twisted details given by the media. So, beware. I'd hate to see you falling into any of the evil one's traps.
Secondly, the new policies within the archdiocese involve the removal of priests who have been accused of wrong doing. This does not mean they are guilty of wrongdoing. Are you not aware that one of the consequences of some priests' shameful actions is that some people have seen dollar signs and lodged false accusations against innocent priests? The new policies in the Catholic Church say that someone (priest, nun, teacher, music minister, etc.) is removed just by being accused, a policy that is far stricter than any organization I know of. (If I walked into your church and falsely accused you of something, would you immediately resign? Of course not! In fact, in your case, there isn't anyone with authority above you to remove you just to be on the safe side. And if you were guilty, you wouldn't need a bishop to move you to another church. You'd just do it yourself, if in fact you were actually that malignant a character. I strongly assume that you are not.)
Also, it is important that you are aware of the dreadful situation in many seminaries about 40-60 years ago, where orthodoxy was shunned and liberal theologies promulgated. Because unorthodox seminary directors were allowed to occupy positions of authority, good priestly candidates (perhaps even like your friend) were shunned and weak candidates (perhaps even demonstrating sinful proclivities) were accepted. This was a disastrous situation for the Church, and one that resulted in priests that went on to commit acts that were often not pedophilia (involving pre-pubescent children) but were actually acts of homosexuality.
So, because the Church went through a period of being too lenient with homosexual men becoming priests, the rotten fruits of those decisions indeed came to pass, as they likely had to. Yes, that tree has born bad fruit.
The good news in this situation is that the Catholic Church is owning up to her mistakes. We now have a new generation of priests, inspired by Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who are committed to orthodoxy and the Church's teaching on sexuality. Thus, these new priests are rooting out the modernist views of sexuality that for a time invaded too many of our seminaries. These priests are on fire for Jesus and are helping usher in the new evangelization of the Catholic Church. The priestly scandal is one last ditch effort by Satan himself to spoil the new evangelization, but I can tell you, my friend, that the situation for Catholicism is getting better. Young Catholics like myself are growing in number, and we are fighting back against Satan and the forces of secularism.
Satan is our enemy in this battle.
Yet, because Satan won the battle in seminaries and some of the priests they produced, and in some very foolish decisions on the part of bishops, let me get this right...
Are you saying I should be suspicious of EVERY Catholic priest that stands at the alter on Sunday morning?
Do I need to remind you that the rates of abuse in the Catholic Church are on par with those in Protestant circles? In public schools? etc. etc.?
Do you apply this same suspicion to every school teacher, every doctor, every mailman, Protestant pastor, just because a few percent of them have committed evil?
The Catholic Church is getting flogged (rightly) because they hold the highest moral standards of any Christian organization. The Catholic scandal is so large precisely because of the high moral ground occupied by the Church. No one is scandalized when Planned Parenthood aborts a baby. But when a Catholic hospital aborts a baby, it hits the evening news! Thus, the size of the scandal is magnified because these acts violate church teaching.
Despite the fact that a small percentage of priests committed evil atrocities against the very flock they were supposed to protect, this still is a far cry away from a church actually saying that those atrocities are morally permissible.
Outside of Catholicism, the following moral atrocities are deemed morally acceptable: abortion, contraception, divorce and remarriage, and homosexual acts.
Beware, my dear friend. Satan has the churches that teaches these things right where he wants them. No change needed. Woe to them that call evil good. (NB: I'm not saying that these denominations are morally and doctrinally bankrupt or completely in Satan's grip. Rather, it is those teachings that come Satan, not from God. Satan is very pleased to see Christian denominations teaching that some serious sins are morally permissible.)
The Catholic Church is the only church that hasn't caved on a single one of these teachings, and Satan knows it, and he is mad as you know what about it. If you think for one second that I am spiritually safer outside the Catholic Church than in it, then you'll need to try to convince me that each of those moral atrocities are in fact morally acceptable. Otherwise, I'd rather stay in a church that teaches rightly, even though a small number of her members act wrongly, than a church that teaches wrongly, leading most of her members to act wrongly.
And yes, we have a lot of cafeteria Catholics in our midst that pick and choose which moral teachings they will follow. They, like you and I, will have to answer to God one day.
If you feel like joining Satan on the Catholic attack, go ahead, but you do so at your own spiritual risk.
I wouldn't recommend it, though.
I would recommend praying for us. I would recommend joining us in spiritual solidarity (since you know full well that Baptist pastors have committed similar sins...though just without the national media spotlight). I would recommend joining us Catholics at the abortion mills to pray. I would recommend studying the Scriptures on divorce and remarriage and on artificial contraception, the latter of which was deemed morally abominable by all Christians until 1930, when the Anglican Church (go figure) first caved in at their Lambeth Conference. Since 1930, every single Christian denomination (at least that I know of) has changed their teaching on contraception except one.
Finally, I would recommend listening to podcasts of Catholic priests. Try Christ the King Catholic Church's (Ann Arbor, MI) or Fr. John Riccardo's podcasts. These are not men who will cause you to think that they participate in some mysterious, evil subculture. I have met countless priests over the years, and I can tell you that the vast majority of them are like these priests, in love with Jesus and obedient to His teachings.
Remember: human beings fail. I fail every day. This doesn't mean that I am devoid of truth. I know that I fail precisely because in those moments I choose not to live according to the truth.
The Catholic Church is full of new creations, whether you choose to acknowledge them or not. Mixed in with the wheat, just like Jesus said there would be, are tares. You pointing out tares does little to change my mind about the Church. Jesus beat you to it. In fact, Jesus himself chose a tare for his original gang of 12. Sometimes I wonder if you would have rejected the apostles since 8% (1/12) of them were clearly "devoid of the truth."
How sad it is that many people will succumb to Satan's plan and never consider the truth of Catholicism! How sad it is that many people will focus only on the victories of Satan within the Church yet willingly ignore the much more splendorous victories of God's grace at work within the Church. These people never spend as much timing pondering in their hearts Catholic saints as they do Catholic scandals. How sad. The scandals are all too human, almost boringly so. (The devil is quite a bore, in fact, compared with anything God does through those who love him.)
I pray for these people to gain a sense of balance in their perspective.
Thanks for sharing your concern about this issue with me! Don't let Satan have the final victory here.