Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia speaks out about the sex clergy abuse scandal.
This has been an ugly week: first for the survivors of sex abuse; second, for Catholics across the state; third, for the wider public. For many, rage is the emotion of choice. The latest grand jury report is a bitterly painful text. But rage risks wounding the innocent along with the guilty, and it rarely accomplishes anything good.
The Stoics believed that anger is never a healthy thing: It always involves an inhuman appetite to hurt others, and it always poisons the soul. But this isn’t the Christian view. The anger Jesus showed toward the Temple moneychangers, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees was not merely acceptable but right and good. The anger Philadelphians felt toward the Archdiocese after the 2005 and 2011 grand jury reports was likewise well placed and justified….
This week’s grand jury report on clergy sex abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses covers more than seven decades. Some people, credible people, have challenged its processes and disputed elements of its content. But the substance of the report is brutally graphic and profoundly disturbing as a chronicle of evil inflicted on hundreds of innocents. The only acceptable responses are grief and support for the victims, and comprehensive efforts to ensure that such things never recur. And anger. Anger is also a righteous and necessary response – but it needs to be an anger that bears good fruit; an anger guided by clear thinking, prudence, and a desire for real justice. That kind of anger all of us should feel this week and carry with us into the days ahead.