We have a pope! Instinctively I ask, “Is he our friend? Will he be an advocate for the abused, and not only interested in the Church hierarchy?” It seems like there is so much focus on the institution and so little on victims. That probably isn’t true, but that’s the color I see through my glasses. Although they say they want to help victims, and do reach out to them, it is not done in an overt in-your-face type way that draws victims out from the holes in which they hide because of their shame. Of course, they are half-afraid of anyone who claims to have been abused because often there are lawsuits attached to claims. And face it, there are false allegations out there, which increase the skepticism to the legitimate claims. One cannot blame them for sifting through the wheat.
We are seeing with our new pope, Francis, that the Church is pastoral. Our leaders are – should be – shepherds who protect their flock. Sadly this has not been true in so many cases. The sheep have been hurt by the shepherds and no longer can be docile. They cannot trust, but must be wary. That is not the dynamic that was intended for this relationship, but it was violated and trust forever lost. Oh sure, he can slowly edge towards his flock, doing things to regain trust. There are as many reactions as there are sheep. Everyone reacts differently.
It is my hope that the humility and spiritual poverty that Pope Francis has shown us so far will carry over into the arena of clergy sexual abuse. When he kisses the feet of those who break the law, what will he do for those who have been victims of those actions?
If you are able, pray for this Pope. If you are not, then try to find a corner of your heart to hope. There is always hope, no matter how dark it is. That is the message of Easter. Resurrection follows the cross, and that cross can be so heavy and us so beaten down that we can barely carry it that there seems to be no way to victory. We know the end of the story, and it is a glorious one.