On Friday, July 31, the Diocese of Covington released a list of the names of all priests, religious, deacons and lay employees of the diocese who have one or more substantiated accusations of sexual abuse of a minor. In last week’s Messenger there is a letter from Bishop Foys and an article narrating the history of how that issue has been dealt with over the past 20 years or so. The article does not include the list of priests. For that you must go to the diocesan website. Some of the local news sites have also included it.
There are a number of names that have been made public before. Some of them, though, have not. Very concerning to the people of Mother of God Church is the inclusion of the names of three very popular and respected pastors of our parish. The names of Father Bill Mertes, Father Ralph Hartman, and Father Ray Holtz are all on the list. I know that for many of you this is very disappointing, hurtful and very sad. I share those reactions, as I knew all of these men and admired each of them.
Many of us are grieving right now—grieving for the children whose lives were wounded so terribly, grieving for their families, and for the families of the abusers, grieving for ourselves, and for the Church herself. Each of us must face and deal with that grief in our own way. I hope that all of us will make prayer an important part of this grieving process.
As I said at Mass last week, (you might want to watch one of the Masses from last Sunday, on our parish website), I beg you not to give up on the Church. We must not judge the Church by those members and leaders who have failed to live up to their vocations, but by those who do.
Focus on the saints and not those who have fallen or failed. Remember the truth that the Church teaches and the grace that she provides through the Sacraments. Recall all of the good that the Church has done and continues to do in providing schools, hospitals, orphanages, food panties and food kitchens, emotional and spiritual counseling and support, and so much more.
The Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus founded and intended, and the Catholic faith is the fullness of truth revealed by Jesus to his Apostles and handed down faithfully by the Magisterium (the popes and bishops), under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is not a guarantee that the leaders of the Church will not make mistakes or fall into sin. It is a promise that Christ “will not leave us orphans,” but that he will be with us until the end of time.
–Fr. Mike Comer