Can the Catholic Church Save Itself?

 By William Butler Salazar

(Published July 28, 2002 by the San Juan Star)

TIME magazine headlined this question in their April first issue. It then dedicated five out of eleven pages of its feature article to an examination of acts by five homosexual priests who sexually abused boys over ten years of age. The incidents reviewed by Time occurred 11, 20, 24, 40 and 65 years past.

Notably, this story failed to pinpoint a single case within the last decade and left unanswered many underling issues. Obvious ones, such as why did the press or the police fail to uncover this problem earlier, or why did the boys who were molested, or their parents, not go to the civil authorities at the time. Or why did the boys not escape from their predators?

Today the press does their utmost to distract Catholics from their main purpose in life. They are pushed and prodded into doubt. Strong convincing cases lunge out daily aimed to defame the over worked, so dedicated clergy, ever trying to entice the faithful to consider their spiritual leaders with a jaded eye. Catholics on the fringe are given ample reason to excuse themselves.

The Church has sinned. Many priests with high managerial positions within the Catholic Church failed to execute their fiduciary duties. Many allowed Jesus’ redemptive preaching to overshadow their best judgment. Jesus never stopped preaching forgiveness. He embraced and healed all matters of lost, detestable people. Jesus showered love upon disciples who failed him. In the Catholic Church, we are all taught from day one to pray for the stricken, to forgive our enemies.


Severe lack of wisdom and vision by Church leadership permitted men with inadmissible character flaws to enter, serve, and endure. These men caused grievous harm to the weak. Though these acts occurred years past, it is still very wrong and will remain painful.


Federal, State and local statutes were violated. How is it possible that it took 20, 40, 60 years for these trespasses to make major headlines? How is it possible that people 20, 40, 60 years after the fact now come forward, hatchet in hand?

           Shame is a semi-acceptable cop-out. Growing up, going from age 10 to 20, is a tedious, hazardous business. Many of us have had unwanted sexual encounters when young. I had one at about age 11. I ran away as fast as I could and made sure I was never caught in a similar situation. I solved the problem without having to involve my parents or the police.

           Every person molested has this same option. The line between consent and abuse can grow super thin. Sadly, The weak, the innocent, the naïve, are the first to fall prey. As my five children grew up, I repeatedly instilled upon them the need to tell me, or their mother, should ever a person molest them, in any way or form.

Failure by the parents of the molested children to detect some sign or signal from their child speaks not well of the families involved. Worse yet, many now seek compensation for their omission. And even worse, the Church is paying for this so obvious parental omission. Then, to top it off, the hard earned money donated by the faithful, millions upon millions of dollars, has been thrown at these age-old complaints in a desperate attempt to extinguish the spotlight and solve the problem.

            The Church in the future will have to talk loud and hard to convince the faithful to tithe generously, that this payout of Church assets was wise and necessary. On the other end of the spectrum, legal Gestapo-like inquisition tactics against those who claim genuine damage is equally wrong.

            Back to the question posed by TIME. Will the Catholic Church survive? What keeps it going in the first place? What drives it? Is it the reading of scriptures at Mass? Or last Sunday’s inspiring homily? Or is it the music, the charities, bingo, after Mass coffee, the bazaars? What is the mortar that has built and fortified this institution throughout the centuries, the cement that holds it together?


            It’s the Eucharist. It has kept the Catholic Church unique, a cohesive entity, timeless, the super-glue that has seen it prosper and spread throughout two full millenniums. The Eucharist provides the fuel that keeps the Church moving ahead, through thick and thin. It is the inspiration that has excited 800 generations, and the reason why the Catholic Church will survive.

           The Church exists for and because of the Eucharist. Daily it refreshes, inspires, and cleanses millions of faithful. It provides a laser sharp guiding light to the lives of many who otherwise would be lost. Everything else falls miles astern, barely matters. As bread and wine are transformed the faithful symbolically partake of Jesus Christ’s body and blood in exactly the same form as Jesus, both the Celebrant and the offered sacrifice, together with his disciples, tendered in the Cenacle at the Last Supper, now almost 20 centuries past.

TIME magazine’s worse case scenarios did help us focus on most grievous sins, sins addressed in earnest by the Catholic Church in the past. Inevitably, this spotlight will transform the Church. The flak caused by this “pedophilic” uproar will no doubt cut down seminary enrollment, worsening an existing scarcity of priests. Laymen and women will have more say and many more responsibilities within parishes nationwide. Yet, all in all, the Catholic Church will survive and will grow stronger as this century progresses, driven steadily on by the Eucharist.


William Butler Salazar


William Butler Salazar is an engineer, author and ocean navigator.