I wish I had words to describe the ghastly, sick feeling in my stomach when, a few days ago, I read of a new scandal affecting the Catholic Church, this time in Spain. It appears that as many as 300,000 babies were literally stolen from their birth parents, who were informed that their children had died. The infants were then passed on - in many cases, sold - to adoptive parents who were considered 'more suitable' to care for them.
Ever since I first read these reports, I've been trying to shake off the sensation of living in a nightmare. I just can't get it through my head that someone could take vows as a Catholic priest, or monk, or brother, or nun, or sister, and then turn around and do things like this. It's as bad in its own way as the pedophiles who used the Church as a cloak to conceal their vile, wicked activities. I can, however (and do) believe that God's punishment on those guilty of either offense is something I'd rather not even imagine, let alone experience!
Tragically, I can understand the mindset that appears to have led so many in the Spanish Catholic Church to behave this way. It's the same mindset I've seen operating in so terribly many US Catholic bishops over the child sex abuse scandal here. It starts with the absolute, unshakeable conviction that God has ordained and appointed them to be the Apostle(s) of His Church, and that the Church is in their hands - and no-one else's - to defend and uphold against all enemies, at any cost. By definition, anyone criticizing or attacking the Church is an enemy, irrespective of their motivation, or whether or not their allegations are true. This morphs into an attitude that "We can and must do whatever we see fit to protect the Church, and the souls given into our charge. We don't have to explain, or justify, or defend our actions to anyone - God has given us the authority to do whatever is needful." That, in turn, leads to finding certain parents 'unsuitable' because of left-wing political sympathies, or insufficient enthusiasm for the right-wing Spanish dictator Francisco Franco (whose fascist political party, the Falange, was tightly integrated with the Spanish Catholic Church). From there, it's a short step to depriving parents of their birth children, under the absolute conviction that what one is doing is simultaneously blessed by God, in the best interests of the child, and vital for the stability of the State.
I weep for the Church. I grew up in her, and am very Catholic in my faith, in my heart and soul . . . but I can never again trust the vast majority of her leaders. I know there are upright, Godly individuals in the episcopate; but there are far too few of them. I greatly fear that the collective hierarchy of the Church has become what our Lord called the scribes and Pharisees.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."(Matthew 23:27-28)
How I hope and pray that I'm wrong about that . . .
May Almighty God have mercy upon us all.