Loading

God’s Mercy and Forgiveness – even in Boston

Jennifer Manning

Boston. Beantown. Boston Strong. “The Athens of America.” Home of Red Sox Nation, Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings, Cheers, and countless other cultural phenomena.

But in 2002, Boston unwittingly became known for something far less luminous—Boston became ground zero for the clerical sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Without warning, this predominantly Irish Catholic city was thrust into the epicenter of a massive scandal unlike any other. It was unparalleled because those at the heart of the scandal were people whom we loved and trusted.  The whole crisis carried with it a sense of unspeakable betrayal.  Forgiveness and reconciliation seemed like a bleak, far-off impossibility.

Since then the Catholic Church both in the United States and globally has worked tirelessly to ensure that this crisis can never recur (the Vatican has a helpful website highlighting the response and protections in place).  But the healing process continues – particularly for those who have suffered.

All members of the Church are called to suffer with those who have been victimized or otherwise suffered for the sins—and crimes—in the Church. For as St. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, the Church is made up of many parts, but one body, and “if [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)

Since the scandal erupted, each pope has met with survivors of clerical abuse, and earlier this week Pope Francis did the same. He celebrated Mass at Santa Marta on Monday morning and met individually with six survivors of abuse afterwards.  The homily from Monday’s Mass is powerful, and I would urge you to read it in its entirety here, but I’d like to focus on one aspect of the homily in particular—what Pope Francis calls “the grace of reconciliation.”

He said:  “Dear brothers and sisters, because we are all members of God’s family, we are called to live lives shaped by mercy.  The Lord Jesus, our Savior, is the supreme example of this; though innocent, he took our sins upon himself on the cross.  To be reconciled is the very essence of our shared identity as followers of Jesus Christ.  By turning back to him, accompanied by our most holy Mother, who stood sorrowing at the foot of the cross, let us seek the grace of reconciliation with the entire people of God.  The loving intercession of Our Lady of Tender Mercy is an unfailing source of help in the process of our healing.”

To be reconciled is the very essence of our shared identity as followers of Jesus Christ. The words are so beautiful when the Pope preaches them, yet so difficult to live in practice.  Of course reconciliation should be the very essence of our shared identity as Christians, but is it the essence of our communities, of our families—of our local church and domestic?

As St. Paul wrote in Corinthians, we are many parts, but one body of Christ. Christ is what gives us this shared identity. And Christ models the grace of reconciliation for us throughout the Gospels—for instance, when He forgives Peter for denying Him three times. In this example Christ not only forgives Peter, he makes him the foundation of the future Church.  As with all things, Christ calls us beyond our humanity to something far greater—He calls us to be reconciled to Himself and to His Church.

Reconciliation in the face of such betrayal and unspeakable hurt is a tall order. I’m not a native Bostonian—I moved here for college in 2004 and settled here permanently in 2012—but I’ve learned much about the people here.  Perhaps it is those proud Irish roots, or the revolutionary foundation on which the city is built, or the result of decades of tirelessly yet passionately cheering for a losing baseball team, but Bostonians possess an unbreakable spirit.  People here are tough, they love hard, and trust, once broken, is nearly impossible to regain.  The combination of the culture and that Boston was the epicenter of this crisis makes reconciliation here markedly difficult.

But our Holy Father is the earthly shepherd of the Church, and like Christ, his role is to call us all back home to the fold.  As Pope Francis reminds us, “we are called to live lives shaped by mercy.” We must try to turn back to Christ in our hurt, in our anger, in our mistrust and “seek the grace of reconciliation with the entire people of God.”  We must continue to work for the safety of all in the Church’s care, and lovingly and humbly welcome all—especially those hurt by the Church—into the Body of Christ. I know that here in Boston, under the leadership of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, and the guidance of Pope Francis, we are slowly witnessing the grace of reconciliation. May we—as a Church and as individuals—continue to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Topics: Current Events , Forgiveness , Mercy , Pope Francis , Suffering

Jennifer Manning is a Catholic schoolteacher in Massachusetts and a volunteer with Catholic Voices USA.

View all articles by Jennifer Manning

Ads by Google
(What's this?)

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

OUR TOPICS

Abortion (49)  Advent & Christmas (19)  Beauty (3)  Bioethics (4)  Books (55)  Church history (18)  Church teaching (35)  Contraception (28)  Culture (124)  Current Events (98)  Dating (15)  Death (6)  Depression (14)  Divorce (7)  Education (14)  Eucharist (4)  Exercise (3)  Faith (226)  Family (92)  Fashion (5)  Feminism (14)  Fertility (3)  Fitness (1)  Food (2)  Forgiveness (19)  Friendship (18)  Generosity (2)  Girl Scouts (2)  Grieving (1)  Health (23)  Home Management (17)  Humor (15)  Leadership (4)  Lent & Easter (13)  Liturgical Year (11)  Marian devotion (9)  Marriage (37)  Mature Years (5)  Meditations (17)  Mental illness (1)  Mercy (3)  Military Families (2)  Ministry (5)  Miscarriage (1)  Motherhood (59)  Movies (2)  Music (5)  Natural Family Planning (2)  Nutrition (4)  Parenting (45)  Personal Growth (106)  Politics (4)  Pope Francis (4)  Pornography (3)  Prayer (34)  Pro-Life (28)  Psychology (1)  Reflections (8)  Relationships (44)  Religious freedom (11)  Religious Vocation (1)  Saints (16)  Scripture (7)  Service (8)  Sexuality (20)  Single years (4)  Social justice (1)  Social Networking (5)  Special Needs (3)  Spirituality (2)  Suffering (15)  Suicide (1)  Travel (11)  United Nations (1)  Welcome (1)  Women in the Church (7)  Women's Health (21)  Workplace (12)  Writings of the Saints (11)  Young Women (40) 

Oct
31

Liturgical Calendar

October 31, 2014

Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Featured Videos

An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 14:1-6

Gospel
Date
10/31/14
10/29/14
10/28/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Phil 1: 1-11
Gospel:: Lk 14: 1-6

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
10/31/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 14:1-6

Homily
Date
10/31/14
10/29/14
10/28/14
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: