"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present ..." (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)
These words from the novel by Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, apply to life in this new millennium Christmas 2002. Each of us can define what makes for the worst and best of times. We can say what we truly believe about God, we can also name those areas of incredulity.
Darkness into light
We have known the season of darkness in the world and in the Church: namely September 11, 2001, terrorism, violence, sexual abuse by clergy, and the resignation of cardinals and bishops along with high-ranking officials in government and large corporations.
Victims of sexual abuse
Our litany is long, the deeds are clear and the victims still reel with the shock of betrayal of those bishops, priests, and deacons in whom they placed their trust. It is not a pretty picture. It is dismal, and yet, in God's providence, we have been asked to accept honestly what has happened, face it head on, and make the decisions that must be made in order to prevent sexual abuse from happening again.
Truth is our way out
The truth is the way out of darkness into the light. Truth will move us from the season of darkness and the winter of despair into a new spring of hope and a new season of light.
This very day I write this column, ten days before the feast of Christmas, the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons are published and become particular law within the Church. It was just six months ago, almost to the very day, that the U.S. Bishops gathered in Dallas with the original drafts. These Norms allow us to implement fully the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
This Charter and Norms become our mandate to protect children and young people from sexual abuse by bishops, priests, deacons, and other Church personnel. As a Diocese we are committed to following them closely, carrying out every aspect of the provisions of the Charter and Norms.
Through the ghosts of the past as portrayed in The Christmas Carol, another Charles Dickens story, we have like Scrooge been led to see and hear what our sins of neglect have caused in the lives of the victims of sexual abuse. Their nightmares and broken lives make us more determined than ever to assist them. Having seen them and listened to them we can easily know the depth of their pain and heartache.
Second light and spring of hope
The blur to our image of the Church is real indeed as almost daily we are greeted with more news of sexual abuse and alleged cover up. The blurred image can blind us to see the full picture of the goodness of the Church.
Our sight is sometimes very weak and thus cannot see what the saints of God so easily distinguish - they measure their lives in God's light - they live not in confusion but live in reality and truth. Many people have been confounded in the long history of humankind because of scandals, violence, and viciousness. The saints teach us to keep our perspective whole.
Many of Jesus' disciples were so scandalized by Christ's promise that he would give them his flesh to eat and his blood to drink that they walked away from Jesus until Peter came forth and said, "Lord to whom shall we turn? You have the words of everlasting life." The Church still has from Christ the words of everlasting life. We just weren't living them.
The one Catholic and apostolic Church, marred and beleaguered by scandal, is nevertheless the Church founded by Christ. Let us make no mistake about it. It is holy because Christ is holy and it is his Church.
My best gift to all of you this Christmas, to the beloved priests and people of the Diocese of Madison, is to ask that you pray hard in order that we come to see what the holy saints of God saw and see, namely that we are on pilgrimage, on a journey, and we must stay the course to the very end. It is God who calls us to do this.
Christ is ever present
Christ has not abandoned his Church. He is ever present to us in all our need. But Christ also demands that we live by his commandments. He tells us to live the truths we proclaim.
As you open your Christmas greeting cards, as you watch again and again, The Christmas Carol by Dickens, The Gift of the Magi by O'Henry, as you hear the glorious songs and hymns of Christmas . . . when you hear the hymn "O Holy Night," fall on your knees and adore Christ in his word, in the Blessed Sacrament, and in his community of believers.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the winter of despair, it was the spring of hope. I ask your prayers for me in the struggles of our day. You and I love the Church, our priests, and one another in Christ and together we shall grow holy as we deepen our commitment to live in Christ.
Now is the time for us to fall on our knees in humility and confess our sins. It is the time to kneel in humble adoration of Christ, our Lord and Savior.
A Blessed Christmas!
|Jump to: Top of page
Bishop William H. Bullock of Madison issued the following statement regarding the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law:
"It is regrettable that Cardinal Law had to resign. The culpability of what he did or failed to do rests with his conscience, the good of the Church of Boston, and the Civil Law.
"It is a time of intense suffering for the Church, for the Cardinal, and the people of the Archdiocese of Boston, but let me add quickly - sexual abuse by bishops, priests, deacons, and other Church personnel has caused untold suffering in the lives of the victims and their families.
"Our Charter and Norms for the protection of children and young people is now being and will be fully implemented in the Diocese of Madison.
"We must together as Church face the challenge and accept our responsibilities with patience, prayer, a solid plan, and a solemn promise to prevent sexual abuse by bishops, priests, and deacons. Pray for all victims - their ongoing suffering and pain must ever be before us."
|Jump to: Top of page
Most Reverend William H. Bullock, Bishop of Madison, wishes to announce the following appointments:
Monsignor Daniel T. Ganshert remains as Chancellor, Rector of St. Raphael Cathedral, and member of the Diocesan Corporate Board.
Bishop William H. Bullock will assume the directorship of Vocations, effective December 13, 2002.
Reverend Francis Xavier Ekwugha to be Chaplain of the Serra Club of Madison, effective December 13, 2002.
Mr. Anthony P. Pawlowsky, Middleton, to be Chairman of the Diocesan Building Commission, effective December 13, 2002.
Mr. Jay Conzemius to be Director of the Office of the Tribunal while retaining his duties as Director of the Office of Stewardship and Development, effective December 2, 2002.
Reverend Randy J. Budnar, as Administrator, Immaculate Conception Parish, Blanchardville, and St. Patrick Parish, Hollandale, effective December 12, 2002.
Reverend Peter Claver U. Anorue has been placed on administrative leave, effective December 12, 2002.
Msgr. Paul J. Swain
|Jump to: Top of page
|Front page Most recent issue Past issues|