Though I have managed, on this feast of the Assumption, to keep my word and not read any of the PA grand jury document, details about what was done to some of the children have continued to filter out into the news media. A priest I know warned against getting too caught up in the media reports, and it's not an unfair thing to say--after all, not everyone is capable even of reading or hearing about crimes like these without being psychologically, emotionally, or spiritually harmed, and this is especially true of anyone who was a child victim of sex abuse or who has a close family member who was a victim. However, when a story of this magnitude breaks, it's almost impossible to avoid seeing and hearing more of the specifics, and we had all best be prepared for the reality that in the coming days the really awful stuff from this report will reach our eyes and ears, if it hasn't already done so.
One word keeps coming to my mind: diabolical. I'm not a fan of blaming everything bad that happens on the devil; that's giving him too much credit, I'm afraid. The world and the flesh conspire together to be the accessories to most of our sins. It doesn't take much in terms of weakness to get us to veer into casual gluttony or prideful snobbery. We don't need demonic temptations to lure us into wretched sins.
But when you read or hear of priests--men ordained to serve God in the ministerial priesthood, to administer the sacraments, to stand at the head of the parish as the spiritual father of all--committing violent, sadistic, and blasphemous acts against young victims, you can't help but wonder if the impetus for evil is really coming from the devil this time, and in cases like these. It's not that humanity isn't capable of coming up with these horrors; it's that priests and bishops could look into the faces of men whom they knew had committed acts of violent rape and abuse against children and have more sympathy for the priest-abuser than they every displayed for his victims.
And though I put that in the past tense, the reality is that it is still the case. There are still far too many bishops whose attitude toward the victims of clergy sex abuse is to promise them change and transparency just to make them go away, and then quietly ignore the reality that the predator is still serving in ministry. Even these, though, seem somewhat better than the cardinal who says that though he was former Cardinal McCarrick's roommate for a number of years he never saw anything and is shocked by the allegations, or the other cardinal who built a website to whitewash his reputation into that of a champion of victims instead of as a moral midget at best and a criminally negligent facilitator of clerical evil at worst.
When the devil's fingerprints are all over a thing, it's time to call in the exorcists.