Turning a Blind Eye
In 1989 the late Cardinal Hume, in a television interview, called the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland a “bunch of bigots”. At the same time, as he must have known, a blind eye was being turned on the sodomy and abuse of children that was being practised by priests.
He, miscalling others, was speaking from within a body which Scripture describes as being “a cage of every unclean and hateful bird”. Yet he was regarded with such esteem that even our Queen, it is said, was wont to refer to him as “my cardinal”. The corruption within the Church of Rome has now been brought into such prominence by press coverage that alarm bells are ringing everywhere throughout the papal empire. Remarkably, foremost among investigative journalists and loudest in their condemnation are those who were nurtured within her pale. One of them, Nicola Barry, recently wrote: “One thing we do expect from a Church which preaches honesty is honesty in return. Yet all we see from the [Roman] Catholic Church where abuse is concerned is dishonesty, as well as a blatant refusal to deal with all its own dirty laundry.” She maintains that the hierarchy have been caught trying to cover up. For too long they thought that if they denied rumours often enough, they would go away, but instead of doing so, they have returned with a vengeance. “It isn’t enough for the Pope,” says this journalist, “to come out now – all these years later – and say that paedophile priests are to be reviled. What we want to know is why nothing was done in all these homes when the children complained originally – as many of them did.”
According to another report, the American scandal stretches back for 30 years and more: “It involves allegations against as many as 2000 priests – among them the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles – and has cost the Church about $1 billion.” That money was, of course, paid out to those abused in order to buy their silence. The Pope summoned the American hierarchy to Rome as a damage-limitation exercise, but no one was removed from office, nor was any apology offered to those who have suffered. It was no more than a further attempt to cover up.
Strangely enough, in his annual letter addressed to priests, and circulated in March, the Pope spoke of “some of our brothers” as having “betrayed the grace of Ordination in succumbing even to the most grievous forms of the mysterium iniquitatis at work in the world”. This but further identifies Rome as that system which Paul described in 2 Thessalonians as the “mystery of iniquity” which was already working in his time.
Babylon’s destruction may be nearer than we think. The One who views all from His dwelling place is no idle spectator, and the end of that system shall come as surely as it is written: “Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming”.
Confession and Sin
In all the furore about Roman Catholic priests involved in child abuse, we must not ignore the significance of the practice of confession. An unnamed member of the American clergy, acknowledging he knew that what he was doing was morally wrong, explained to a Time reporter: “I’d go to confession; there would be genuine repentance, and then I would go for a period of time without molesting anyone. I would make a very real point, when this was having to be confessed, to go to another diocese to make sure the priest didn’t know me.”
It is impossible to believe that the repentance was genuine, but the fact that another priest claimed he had forgiven his sin clearly made this abuser more vulnerable when he again faced temptation. The thought that sin could be forgiven in this mechanical way led to further sin.
True forgiveness is accompanied by the beginnings of sanctification. And confession should be to God, not to man – except when we have sinned against that person. The teaching of Scripture is: “If we confess our sins [to God], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (John 1:9).
“Defender of the Faith” was originally a title given by the pope of the day to Henry VIII as a reward for a pamphlet published in his name defending Rome’s seven “sacraments” against Luther. After Henry’s rejection of the pope’s authority the title was withdrawn by the Pope but restored to him by Parliament. These matters of history may be considered irrelevant now. But it is present reality that the faith to be upheld by the state, represented by the monarch in Parliament, is the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Thirty-Nine Articles – Calvinistic Protestant Christianity. This duty of upholding the faith rests on the Establ
ishment Principle, the terms of the Union between Scotland and England, and the constitutional basis upon which the monarch occupies the throne of this United Kingdom.
It is against her solemn coronation engagements that the Queen is not only officially countenancing Roman Catholicism but is also commending what she has described as the remarkably peaceful way in which “the consolidation of our multi-cultural and multi-faith society, a major development since 1952, is being achieved”. Her son and heir, Prince Charles, in keeping with his nondescript view of “spirituality”, is seeking to have a leading role in the movement towards further developing a multi-faith society.
By this defiance of the one living and true God, our Royal House are further undermining the stability of the throne and the unity of the nation. In reflecting the widespread indifference to the truth of God characteristic of our nation at this time, they are also demonstrating how ripe we, as a people, are for further manifestations of the displeasure of God in the moral and material realms. “None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. . . . Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness” (Is 59:4,9).
We must endeavour to use such means as are available to bring the truth to bear upon our society and its leaders and, though such calls to repentance fall on deaf ears, we must still resort to God in accordance with the exhortation of His own Word that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim 2:1,2).