The clergy sex abuse scandal seems always ready to vomit forth fresh headlines. Today we have the news that Bishop Gabino Zavala, auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, has resigned, a month after admitting to having fathered two children. Bishop Zavala is known for espousing liberal-leftist causes and presiding over liturgical travesties. The Church is once again humiliated, but the good news is that an unfaithful shepherd has been dismissed from service.
Pope Benedict is on record as saying that the Church needs purification, and that it must be attained by penance and suffering. Not unconnected with the Holy Father's thoughts on this subject is a passage from St. John Eudes' 17th-century work published under the title The Priest, His Dignity and Obligations. A part of this passage appeared in this space eleven months ago:
The most evident mark of God's anger and the most terrible castigation He can inflict upon the world are manifested when He permits His people to fall into the hands of clergy who are priests more in name than in deed, priests who practice the cruelty of ravening wolves rather than the charity and affection of devoted shepherds. Instead of nourishing those committed to their care, they rend and devour them brutally. Instead of leading their people to God, they drag Christian souls into hell in their train. Instead of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, they are its innocuous poison and its murky darkness....When God permits such things, it is a very positive proof that He is thoroughly angry with His people, and is visiting His most dreadful anger upon them. That is why He cries unceasingly to Christians, "Return, O ye revolting children...and I will give you pastors according to my own heart" (Jer. 3:14-15). Thus, irregularities in the lives of priests constitute a scourge visited upon the people in consequence of sin.
We have certainly suffered this scourge of bad shepherds, and all the shame and degradation that comes with them. The tide is turning, but we still have a long way to go. If we want good and faithful shepherds, then we ourselves need to straighten up and fly right.