Come Out From Among Them

In Oregon, 150 people have agreed to a settlement with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland. Their lawsuits against the Church allege sexual abuse by priests. The U.S. District Judge in the case, Michael Hogan, isn’t disclosing a dollar figure in the settlement, but he says all the claims can be settled without selling off the property held by the parishes.

Question: Just how much money does the church have that it can settle with 150 people out of surplus cash?

A better question: Are the individuals who brought the lawsuits still Catholic?

Some believe you shouldn’t change your religion. “Born a Catholic, die a Catholic.” But let’s look at an analogy.

If your father drove a Ford, and his father drove a Ford, does that mean you have to drive a Ford? And if you did buy a Ford, and it turned out to be a lemon, and Ford royally screwed you over on the warranty, would you continue to buy and drive Fords?

No, religion and automobiles are not the same thing; religion is much more important. Then why do most people put more thought into what car they’ll drive than into what religion they’ll practice?

But aren’t all religions really the same, just different paths leading to God? Not according to Jesus. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Read it in context at Matthew 7:13-23.

Further, consider the apostle Paul. He started out as a zealous practicer of Judaism, but after seeing the light – both literally and figuratively – converted to Christianity. (Acts 9:1-22)

Are those priests who committed the abuse still priests? For that matter, are they still Catholic? Since these particular lawsuits have been settled without going to trial, those charged have not been proven guilty and the abuse is, therefore, alleged. There are, however, countless charges of sexual abuse by priests that have been proven, so lets consider those instead. In many of these cases, even after the abuse became known by the Church hierarchy, the priests were simply moved to other parishes and allowed to continue their abuse.

Read 1 Timothy 3:2-7. Would a man who sexually abuses children be considered “blameless,” as the King James version renders it? Could he have a “good report” from those outside, if anyone really knew him? And what’s with the whole celibacy thing, when the Scriptures plainly state that he should be “the husband of one wife” and have children?

By the way, no, the reference to a wife does not refer to the Church or his congregation. The apostle Peter had a mother-in-law. You can’t have a mother-in-law without having a wife, although for sure some men wish otherwise.

Oh, but isn’t excommunication too harsh? Not according to 1 Corinthians 5:9-13: “Not to company with fornicators.” And, “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

Oh, but we shouldn’t judge others. Perhaps not, but we do need to be discerning. How else could we know to ‘put away from among ourselves that wicked person?’

On the other hand, we do have to be forgiving. But forgiveness is not unconditional. Forgiveness is contingent on repentance and turning around from one’s wrong deeds. Acts 3:19: “Repent ye therefor, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 shows that fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God, but adds, “Such were some of you.” Yes, some in the congregation had been fornicators, but were no longer. If a priest continues, unrepentant, to sexually abuse those under his care, is he still “blameless?” Should he not rather be “put away from among yourselves?”

If you’re a member of the Catholic church and you see that these things have gone on and are still going on, why are you still there? “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

Yes, abuse suffered by some in the Catholic church is tragic. More tragic still is that many have not learned from it. Do you hear the knocking at the door?