Judgment must begin at the house of God
“Why,” they wail, “should the victims of clerical abuse be singled out by the media? Why are the prepubescent prey of perverted priests, libidinous bishops and carnally-minded cardinals deemed more worthy of scrutiny and investigation than those abused by other groups of predators?”
And so they cite the vice of various children’s homes, the Church of England, the Baptists, the Lutherans and a few ‘progressive’ schools which have nothing to do with any religious foundation at all.
Pederasty, they aver, is not simply a papal problem.
And Cranmer has some sympathy with those who feel some injustice in the matter.
But he has little patience with the poverty of their spirituality and the ignorance they display of the teaching of their first pope.
St Peter said:
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1Pet 4:14-17)
It may be that Pope Benedict XVI is indeed suffering ‘as a Christian’ as he is ‘stitched up’ by the media and thrown the wolves by his liberal ‘enemies inside the Church’ (which, reportedly, includes members of the College of Cardinals).
But other clerics rightly suffer for being murderers of innocence, thieves of childhood and meddlers in collusion and cover-up.
Yet it is a bit rich for those Roman Catholic journalists to cry foul over an ‘anti-Catholic’ media frenzy when they are not averse to dishing out the same (and worse) upon every trial faced by the Archbishop of Canterbury and every tribulation to befall the Church of England.
Those who berate The Times for its measured, reasoned and intelligent reporting of this crisis are the very journalists who are the first to crow about ‘the end of the Church of England’, the ‘wreckage’ its incompetent bishops leave in their wake, and demand that the proper (ie Anglo-Catholic) Christians swim over to Rome.
But that, of course, is not ‘anti-Anglican’ or ‘bigotry’. That is pastoral concern for the spiritual edification of deficient Protestants and a genuine desire for wholeness in the soteriological fulfilment of wayward and misguided Anglicans.
The media are full of vipers, serpents, dragons and beasts: it is a world of darkness and a den of demons governed by the prince of the power of the air. You might think, therefore, that Christians might seek to be united to confront the zeitgeist.
Unity is impossible when The Daily Talibgraph prefers to talk of forging alliances with atheists rather than with Anglicans; when its journalists are more absorbed by their own embittered egos and puerile carping than with rational discourse; and when they consistently resort to ad hominem attacks upon their competitors in order to deflect from the religio-political substance they prefer not to face, or their own cognitive dissonance prevents them from even perceiving.
Those robust defenders of Pope Benedict who defame The Times (or, now, ‘the recent Media’) for daring to ask some awkward questions ought themselves to ask these questions. They might learn from the example of Cardinal Sean Brady as he presided over Mass yesterday. In deep pain, from the depths of his anguished soul, he thanked and praised the communications media – even the serpents, dragons and beasts who have been unforgiving in their agonising crucifixion of him over recent months. He was patient, courteous, respectful and humble: in short, he was Christ to them. Even if Ruth Gledhill had been there, he would have extended the right hand of fellowship and smiled warmly at her, instead of descending into hysterical, unreasoned and un-Christian abuse.
The negative media surrounding Pope Benedict is being fanned by his co-religionists, both clerics and journalists. They are gorging this ravenous ‘mood of the moment’ by which the obsessive media live and breathe. It is a game to them, though it be life and death to others. And now Pope Benedict’s entire papacy risks being forever tarnished with allegations of pederasty in exactly the same manner as that of Pope Pius XII has become synonymous with anti-Semitism. And history has a very long memory.
But Christians – real Christians – would not be spitting at the media organisations or cursing the journalists. They would love, as Christ did, and forgive them, not least because judgment begins with the house of God. And we might expect that wrath, when it comes, to be more severe. From those who have been entrusted with much, much is expected. And if that trust involves the guardianship of the lively oracles of God, then there can be no fellowship with darkness. The hypocrites have been rightly and justly exposed, and this is a work of the Holy Spirit in cleansing the temple. But, as Pope Benedict reminded us, let us not fool ourselves into believing that pederasty is the sole preserve of the ordained and religious: it is also a pursuit of the laity. It is perfectly possible to project the sanctified façade of being a Benedict-adoring, Latin-loving, orthodoxy-exalting media hack and a holier-than-thou participant in God's work of chastisement and judgment, while secretly harbouring a penchant for young boys.
Those who seek to wound and destroy their brothers and sisters in Christ are only bringing judgment upon themselves. And that judgment will surely come.