In the section of his new book, Jesus of Nazareth, dealing with the betrayal of Judas Pope Benedict refers to other betrayals by Christians throughout the ages, implicitly referring to the appalling betrayal of child sex abuse by members of the Church.
‘Judas’ betrayal was not the last breach of fidelity that Jesus would suffer. “Even my bosom friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me” (Ps 41:9). The breach of friendship extends into the sacramental community of the Church, where people continue to take “his bread” and to betray him.
Jesus’ agony, his struggle against death, continues until the end of the world, as Blaise Pascal said on the basis of similar considerations (cf. Pensees VII, 553). We could also put it the other way around: at this hour, Jesus took upon himself the betrayal of all ages, the pain caused by betrayal in every era, and he endured the anguish of history to the bitter end’. (p.68).
This strong reference to the betrayal of new Judas’ in the Church echoes Pope Benedict’s equally strong words to priests and religious who have abused children in his letter to the faithful of Ireland:
‘You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders in which Christ makes himself present in us and in our actions. Together with the immense harm done to victims, great damage has been done to the Church and to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life.’
Protect the Pope comment: For Catholics, the shock and disgust at the crimes of priests and religious who sexually abused children is compounded by the fact that at the time of their appalling crimes they also celebrated the Mass and received Holy Communion. This directly parallels the betrayal of Judas who received the Body and Blood of Jesus at the Last Supper while scheming and facilitating the betrayal of Jesus.
Pope Benedict’s insight that at that moment Jesus suffered the agony of all such betrayals throughout history, including the betrayal of child sexual abuse, makes us realize the horror and depth of his suffering.
To buy Pope Benedict’s new book go to: http://www.cts-online.org.uk/acatalog/info_Do840.html