Friday, January 30, 2009

A "bad catch"?

Eucharistic Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All are invited!!
Here are some questions from bloggers:

1) “I've been curious about the meaning of a ‘good confession’ for some time. There are articles on the internet that refer to; ‘How to Make a Good Confession’. I'm sure there are little handouts that describe the steps to making a good confession. I understand that there is a protocol or format to confession. I also understand that all sins are not equal - some are mortal, some are venial. On the other hand, all sin is equal in that it is wrong. If a person has basically followed the format; i.e., examined their conscience, been honest with self and confessor, has true sorrow for their sin(s), desires not commit sin(s) again, verbalizes some form of the Act of Contrition, receives absolution and completes their assigned penance, wouldn't that make for a good confession? If one can make a good confession, can one make a bad confession as well?”

Imagine if during this weekend’s Super Bowl one of the announcers says that a wide receiver makes a “bad catch”. Can a receiver make a bad catch? No. He may not make the most graceful catch, but if he catches it, it is a catch. Some catches are better than others, but every pass caught is a good catch. It’s the same with making a confession. Everyone who follows the “format” as you have laid it out (and you nailed it!) makes a good confession. Some confessions are better than others, but everyone who does their best in following the format makes a good confession.

2) “I’m sporadic with Bible Study in general, but I missed this past Advent’s series, so PLEASE answer me- in response to today’s homily (12/31/08), where in the Bible does it speak about Mary’s prayer life?”

There are many examples in the Gospels that refer to Mary’s prayer life, and several are posted in the comments under my post of 12/30/08, “We have a new bishop!” The Gospels do not give a general description of Mary’s prayer life, but they do provide many instances of Mary at prayer. I used one of these instances (“Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” - Lk 2:19) as a basis to present Mary’s prayer life in general in my homily for the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God.

3) “I have a question about Baptism by Desire- Say someone had heard of Jesus, was not a Christian but still answered a call to do a life of good work. Perhaps they were well-educated but were raised in a place where Christianity was not prominent and the lived values espoused by another faith, and their life was committed to love, peace and equality. Would that person be considered saved- if they knew of Jesus but did not claim him as their savior?”

I cannot say whether or not a person like that would be saved because it depends on what they know and how they’ve come to know it. We’ve discussed full knowledge on this site before – how much do they really know about Jesus Christ? What have they been exposed to? Also, how have they been taught about Him?

Someone came up to me after a Mass in which I preached on the different types of Baptism. They asked if someone who had been well-educated about Christ (or the Church) but in the wrong way could be saved. An example of this would be that the person was taught about the Resurrection, but that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead: his disciples stole the body from the tomb. (Some people today still teach this!) This can also include being taught about the Bread of Life discourse in John 6 but that Jesus was only speaking symbolically. God understands that if people are given the wrong knowledge about His Son (from parents, teachers, priests, rabbis, etc.) their whole lives even though they believe it’s the truth, then they are not accountable for the errors of others.

With salvation, it’s all about people doing the best with what they’ve been given. If someone has been given less than full knowledge or been given the wrong knowledge but has truly desired to do God’s Will in his/her life, then they can be saved (baptism by desire). That desire basically means that their heart claimed Christ as their Savior because to live God’s Will is to live Christ. To live Christ is to live God’s Will.


At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something entirely unrelated, from Maryland Catholic Conference:

The Maryland General Assembly will soon consider legislation, Senate Bill 238, that would make it easier for to sue the Church for decades-old claims. SB 238 could cost the Church millions of dollars and would devastate the Church's financial ability to maintain its educational and social service programs, which are already strained due to the current economic crisis. The bill only applies to private institutions like the Church and does not apply to government entities like public schools.

The Catholic Church in Maryland is committed to healing victims and to protecting children. Our bishops have reached out to personally apologize to victims. Our dioceses provide unlimited counseling to victims and, in many cases, to their families. They also offer financial settlements without regard to the passage of time. Employees and volunteers undergo mandatory fingerprinting and criminal background checks. Employees, volunteers, and children also receive awareness education.

Suspending or extending the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse would do nothing to protect children and would instead discourage early reporting of abuse. Efforts to pass this legislation, supported by out-of-state money, have been rejected in Maryland in the past, and by more than 20 other states. There is no criminal statute of limitations in Maryland, and child abusers in our state can rightly be prosecuted and jailed for their crimes until the day they die.

At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Suspending or extending the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse would do nothing to protect children and would instead discourage early reporting of abuse.”

In Md, I believe the current statute provides for civil damages if abuse is reported within 7 years of reaching legal majority. My husband was abused as a teen, and it wasn’t until he was in his 30’s, and after TWO years of therapy that he was even willing to admit it happened. With his case, the priest was a repeat offender who the Archdiocese moved after allegations would come forward (not the ADW). This Archdiocese was apologetic and has even compensated some victims after the statute had expired (they paid for the cost of my husband’s therapy). I admired their willingness to make their victims whole, but I don’t think their willingness (past that 7 yrs) to do so should have been subject to their discretion.

There are people whose lives change dramatically after abuse- OFTEN after they pass that seventh year of majority. The effects of abuse can be interwoven into lives in such a way that the “problems” don’t surface until WELL after the timeframe in which the abuse occurred. The time frame for reporting abuse should be increased. I don’t know what it should be, but based on our experience, 7 years was hardly sufficient.

Understand- for many it is not always about seeking monetary restitution. For us it was about having the Church, because their actions contributed to ongoing abuse, acknowledge the extent of damage their actions caused. In my husband’s case, I think the Church satisfied that, but in another area, perhaps a Bishop would have responded differently.

I disagree with legislation that provides an open window. Laws here can’t be retroactive; requirements for handling abuse have changed over the decades and many offenders are no longer alive. I also don’t think the Church should be responsible as the employer of an abuser is she continues to screen and promote safety for its children and handles abuse allegations according to the law.


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