Finally, autumn is here, after a long, painful summer. The Church and the country have gone to a veritable purgatory since last June. Sexual abuse scandals and allegations of sexual misdeeds and cover-ups have crowded the headlines almost every week.
The last day of spring, June 20, we found out that now former-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had been removed from ministry after an investigation found credible allegations that he sexually abused a teenager 47 years ago while serving as a priest in New York.
On Aug. 14, the Pennsylvania grand jury report was made public. More than 300 priests were accused of molesting more than 1,000 children over a period of 70 years.
On Aug. 25, the former nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, published an 11-page document accusing the Holy Father of mishandling Archbishop McCarrick’s case – and demanding Pope Francis’ resignation.
On Sept. 8, CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves was forced to step down after sexual harassment claims.
Four days later, on Sept. 12, we learned that a study commissioned by the Catholic Bishops of Germany had found that at least 1,670 members of the clergy and Church lay workers had been involved in the abuse of 3,677 children between 1946 and 2014.
Six days later, on Sept. 16, a judge allowed actress Ashley Judd’s defamation lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein to proceed, returning to the front pages the story of sexual assaults by the disgraced Hollywood mogul.
The same day, an investigation commissioned by the Conference of Bishops and the Dutch Religious Conference in 2010 revealed that over 65 years, 20 of 39 Dutch cardinals, bishops and their auxiliaries “covered up sexual abuse, allowing the perpetrators to cause many more victims.”
At the beginning of fall, on Sept. 25, The New York Times ran an article with this heading: “Sports Officials Are Making Lists of People Barred for Sexual Misconduct. Big Lists.” According to the Times, “gymnastics recently had 178 people on its list. Swimming had 163. An additional 31 are on the list from tae kwon do, 29 from figure skating and 33 more from judo.”
A few days later, Bill Cosby, one of the most beloved figures in the history of American TV, was sentenced to three to 10 years for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004.
During that same week, we witnessed the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, dominated by shocking accusations of sexual misconduct.
This is just a partial list of the avalanche of horrendous news that we have read during the last three months.
On Sept. 29, Pope Francis asked Catholics all over the world to pray the rosary daily during the month of October, asking Mary and St. Michael the Archangel to intercede for the protection of the Church. And pray we should – for the Church and for our country. Let’s pray for the victims of sexual abuse, first and foremost. Let’s pray for all the good priests who are now treated with suspicion, or worse, for the crimes of others. Let’s pray for ourselves that God will give us the moral strength to oppose injustice and abuse, regardless of the consequences.
And while we pray, let us not forget the phrase attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola: “Pray as though everything depended on God; but act as though everything depended on you.”