This is a discouraging start to the Easter season (which is supposed to be a time of joyful celebration of new life and new beginnings):
During Easter Mass in St Peter's Square, Cardinal Sodano expressed solidarity with the Pope, who has himself come under scrutiny for his role in handling past cases of abuse.
"Holy Father, the people of God are with you and will not let themselves be influenced by the petty gossip of the moment, by the trials that sometimes assail the community of believers," the cardinal said.
With all due respect to the dean of the Sacred College, no, the people of God are not with the pope--at least not as long as he continues to pretend that nothing is wrong in the Church, and allows people to speak in his name dismissing the current crisis as nothing more than "gossip" or a "smear campaign." Nor should the people of God be "with" the pope on this. The people of God should be (and many of us are) clamoring for a full and open investigation of this suppurating wound on the Body of Christ, thoroughgoing reforms with real substance behind them, and an institutional change of heart away from the "protect the hierarchy at all costs" model that has been in effect for at least the last two pontificates, and back toward something more closely approximating the approach of John XXIII of blessed memory.
We need more pastors in the Church, and far fewer lawyers and career clerics whose major concern is to keep their noses clean so they can land a plum assignment. The primary duty of the clergy is the cura animarum, the care of souls--and they have been falling down on the job in that respect for decades.
In fairness, I will say that many of the critics of the Church (and of its handling of this latest scandal) are not doing much to help. The level of ignorance of Church doctrine and canon law displayed by many critics (and virtually all media outlets) is simply stunning. The critics, particularly those who are not themselves Catholic, can perhaps be forgiven--but the media should know better, and do better research. (Then again, when has this not been the case for the last couple of decades? Journalism, it seems, is--if not already dead--moribund.)
Were it not that I have a fairly good idea of what he means by "deep change," I could find a tiny crumb of cold comfort in this part of the pope's Urbi et orbi message:
In our days too, humanity needs an "exodus," not just superficial adjustment, but a spiritual and moral conversion. It needs the salvation of the Gospel, so as to emerge from a profound crisis, one which requires deep change, beginning with consciences.
What the pope most likely means by "deep change" is, in my estimation, for more people to adopt the attitude toward the papacy exemplified by the bull Unam sanctam, promulgated in 1302 by his predecessor Boniface VIII ("...Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff."). The correct attitude for him to adopt, just as for anyone approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation (which the pope should be for the way he has behaved since this latest round of allegations surfaced), is one of deep humility, sincere repentance, and a firm desire to turn away from the mistakes of the past. I have yet to see so much as a scintilla of evidence that such a disposition is present in the pope, or in anyone close to him who has thus far spoken on this matter.
Our Orthodox brethren chanted the Paschal troparion last night:
Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν,
θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας,
καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι,
Christ rose from the dead,
Trampling on death with death,
And gracing life
Upon those in the tombs.
(My translation from the original Greek)
It is difficult to see how the attitude displayed by the pope, by Cardinal Sodano, by the Vatican homilist (a Franciscan, no less!) the other day, or by virtually any other member of the hierarchy, constitutes a gracing of life upon those whose "tombs" include surviving abuse by members of the clergy whom they ought to have been able to trust. And therefore, I suspect, Jesus wept again today, for the σκάνδαλον (stumbling-block) placed in the way of τῶν μικρῶν ...τῶν πιστευόντων (the little ones who believe; Mark 9:42).