Turn to God when faith shatters
This column is called Faith Matters. Its purpose is to discuss matters of faith because faith matters to many.
This is why when faith shatters it is a serious matter.
There are things in life that can rock our faith and cause significant damage. An example from the Bible can be found in Job. He had a very good life and everything seemed to be going well until Job experienced many tragedies, sickness, and appeared to have lost everything.
His faith was severely shaken; he questioned but he did not reject God. He said, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
Not everyone is able to have the same attitude as Job when tragedy strikes. We have seen this in the anguish of so many who are struggling with the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and the earthquake in Mexico.
People who have lost so much are often bewildered and have difficulty finding God in all of this destruction.
Faith is tested and at times even shattered.
It is not only natural disasters, serious illness or personal loss can also do this. Sometimes it may be individuals and institutions who cause both faith and lives to shatter.
Sadly, an example of this can be found in the Catholic Church.
Last year on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Pope Francis issued a Pastoral Letter to the Bishops of the World. In this letter he stated: “(the Church) recognizes the sins of some of her members: the sufferings, the experiences and the pain of minors who were abused sexually by priests. It is a sin that shames us. Persons responsible for the protection of those children destroyed their dignity. We regret this deeply and we beg forgiveness. We join in the pain of the victims and weep for this sin. The sin of what happened, the sin of failing to help, the sin of covering up and denial, the sin of abuse of power. The Church weeps bitterly over this sin of her sons and she asks forgiveness.”
It is a tragedy when a person who is supposed to represent Christ and His Body, the Church, commits heinous offences; it can shake our faith to its core. It can leave us questioning God, asking how this could be allowed to happen. We question the Church, which ought to be a place of sanctuary and sanctity.
The unimaginable harm that is done to innocent victims of clergy abuse is devastating, and there is a ripple effect, harming family members and the whole church. This will always be a dark period in the history of the Catholic Church; however, the God of mercy can bring healing and hope.
In the same letter, Pope Francis states, “Let us find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated.”
The Diocese of St. Catharines is committed to doing this. We cannot erase the past, but we can learn from it and build a better future.
As a Roman Catholic bishop and a shepherd, I feel deep remorse for the actions of clergy and religious who have caused harm by their sinful acts. I also feel joy for the priests, deacons and religious who do tremendous good, serving in the Diocese of St. Catharines, striving to be faithful and live holy lives.
Like Job, when faith shatters let us turn to God who brings comfort and healing. “Come to me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)