Depending on whether your local priest has mentioned the current sex abuse crisis in the Church, you may be able to keep your younger children from knowing about what’s going on. However, your teens are going to know and have opinions on the subject.
Teens are often in rebellion against the Church. It is a natural time of questioning, only made more challenging by the world at large and its message of “anything goes” and “if it feels good, do it.” The current crisis gives them a huge reason to want to walk away. That’s unfortunate because if our Church is ever going to manage to recover from this and thrive, we need our young people.
In talking with my own teens, I have emphasized that we belong to the Church because of Jesus, the Eucharist, and the Sacraments. We are not there because of the Pope, the Bishops, or our local priests. They are all human. Ultimately, the men who hold those offices are sinners just like the rest of us. Sometimes, their sins are huge. The Church is a hospital for sinners. Just as doctors need medical care for their own bodies, our spiritual leaders are in need of repentance, forgiveness, and mercy. We do not need to defend their wrong actions. Indeed, we need to condemn abuse and do all we can to prevent it from happening again.
But even in the midst of all of this ugliness, the Catholic Church is the only place to have the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is the only place to have our sins forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The words of this past Sunday’s Gospel rings true:
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69)
I have no idea how this whole situation will play out. Sadly, even if the Pope and all the bishops resign and new ones take their place, there will still be corruption and sin and abuse. There always has been and always will be due to humanity’s fallen natures. Yet, I will continue to pray for our Church and our leaders and trust that God has ultimately already won the battle. In the words of Jesus, “ Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
As parents in this difficult time, we need to model what faithful discipleship looks like, and we need to pray for all the teens out there that they will see the beauty and gift of our faith even in the midst of all the muck.