Friday, December 4, 2009

Works of Mercy: Ireland and Uganda

Thanks to Google, I happened to land on a Canadian News service to read the story of the settlement awarded to victims of abuse by Irish nuns.   However disturbing the news story,  it was the ignorant comments by readers that triggered my response.  Their hatred is as despicable as the sins they criticize. In as much as logic and language itself are often inadequate, honest commentary and criticism has a place.  Those who have read some of my posts know that I have "Catholic issues".  However, I can be, at times, somewhat of an apologist.  I posted my comment/reply to this story:

The situation is so tragic for all involved. Of course, especially for the victims of abuse, but also for the Sisters, most of whom, both past and present, lead prayerful lives of service in education, medicine, social work, homeless shelters and many other areas. They must now suffer for the sins of others who lived in a very unenlightened age. It is not at all unlikely that those who perpetrated the abuse, were themselves abused as children, whether by family members, strangers, foster parents, priests or sisters. There is enough blame to go around, for sure. As for the money, I imagine most is tied to property – convents, schools, retreat facilities – and to investments/endowments that are used to fund the services to the poor and sick. Unfortunately, there are no winners here.

Just as a reminder, the works of Mercy (and,  I think,  the definition of the Catholic Church at its best) are as follows:

The corporal works of mercy are:
To feed the hungry;
To give drink to the thirsty;
To clothe the naked;
To harbour the harbourless;
To visit the sick;
To ransom the captive;
To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are:
To instruct the ignorant;
To counsel the doubtful;
To admonish sinners;
To bear wrongs patiently;
To forgive offences willingly;
To comfort the afflicted;
To pray for the living and the dead.

This is a sad time for the Church.  I would hope and pray for a new beginning - where mercy is shown in a true spirit of humility and integrity.

And while we're at it, read a plea for help from Uganda:
And see this report on the topic from Rachel Maddow


  1. An observation from somebody who used to be very "into" church - One of the nice things about the Catholic Church is that you do get all these nice, neat, tidy lists that spell it out for you.

    Whereas in the Protestant, evangelical churches all you get is the Ten C's and the Lord's Prayer, and about a million jillion words of sermons, Sunday school, and assorted periodicals and books.

    Eventually everything on those little tidy lists is covered, but you have to sort through a lot of blather, and the infinite repetition of the Plan of Salvation, which is all some preachers know to talk about - even when the audience has heard it and memorized it since they toddlers.

    But then of course you grow up, I mean really grow up, and you realize there is Something beyond all the lists and all the sermons that can't be summarized in words, something much more important than any rules devised by man: Love, the big divine mystery at the heart of all things.

    Words can only ever be signposts pointing in that direction; but they can't substitute for the thing itself, though we like to try.



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