Monday greetings on this rainy Monday morning here in the Midwest.
We all awoke to the news this morning that Archbishop Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Anthony Piche of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis have resigned. Earlier this month, the Archdiocese was charged as a corporation for "turning a blind eye" to a string of reports about a priest who was later convicted of sexually abusing two boys.
I remember well waking up on that December morning in 2002, and tuning in to the "Today" show and saw the news report of the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston. Who among us had ever experienced or could imagine the resignation of such a highly placed prelate? And, of course, I remember just a few years ago, waking up and turning on the local WGN news here in Chicago and watching a newscaster fumbling for the words to describe what had just occurred in Rome; that Pope Benedict XVI had announced his resignation. Talk about a highly placed prelate!
My reaction to the Nienstedt resignation? When shepherds can no longer protect the sheep and can no longer keep them all in the fold, it's time for a new shepherd. All kinds of other things run through my mind, especially as one who is himself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Protection is something that those who suffer abuse of any kind desperately seek. I thank God today that parents and most who care for the young are educating kids at a very early age about what is safe and what is not safe when it comes to encounters with adults. This kind of thing was just not talked about in the 1970's when I was growing up. While I find the fact that these bishops "turned a blind eye" to reports of children being harmed reprehensible, I think that resignation is the only course of action. And it simply makes sense that, in addition to punishment by the civil authorities, that the Church will levy punishment as well. We've seen this most recently with Pope Francis' newest tribunal which will deal with these bishops.
This can all be quite confounding, especially on the cusp of a Jubilee Year of Mercy. But we cannot deceive ourselves. Mercy does not mean ignoring the sin. Mercy does not mean turning some kind of blind eye toward injustice. We all know that God's mercy reaches the hearts of the repentant ones. Perhaps what we are seeing is the beginning of that repentance.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.