Bishop's Column

Protecting Our Children

Satan is tenacious. Sacred Scripture tells us that the Devil is always "prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." At the end of time, the Prince of Darkness will be defeated. But until that time, Satan will prowl, zealously, looking for ways to destroy everything that is true, good, and beautiful.

Satan wants to destroy the family, the community, and the state. He thrives on chaos. But he wants especially to destroy the Church. And so he looks for opportunities to sow the seeds of chaos, disorder, temptation, and falsehood, in the hearts of priests.

For two thousand years, Satan has worked to try to keep priests from communion with Jesus Christ. He tempts priests as he tempts all men: with opportunities for power, or comfort, or with the pride that keeps men from seeking God’s grace.

The world needs a holy Church. And so, for two thousand years, Satan has sought to bring chaos, and sin, and scandal to the Church.

Order defeats chaos. Humility defeats scandal. And grace defeats sin.

This week, I am very pleased to promulgate a new, revised version of the "Policy of the Lincoln Catholic Diocese Regarding the Reporting of Alleged Cases of Child Abuse or Neglect." The policy can be read in its entirety in this issue of the Southern Nebraska Register and on our website.

The diocesan policy addresses the protocols of the Church to ensure that no allegation of grave sin or abuse is left unresolved. As a bishop, my task is to be vigilant in ensuring that sinfulness does not creep into the Church of Lincoln; to ensure that scandal does not effect our mission of salvation; and to ensure that no child is ever in danger in our Church.

Although the Diocese of Lincoln has not been untouched by these evils, it has a solid history of working to protect and care for children in our Church. This policy continues that tradition. It ensures that pastors, superintendents, principals, administrators and all volunteers cooperate with civil authorities. It ensures a process to deal quickly and fairly with allegations of misconduct. And it ensures that anyone, lay or clerical, who abuses or neglects a child in an ecclesial context is properly punished.

Policies like this one help to sanctify us. Law can dispose us to have good habits, and good habits can dispose us to virtue. My prayer is that this revised policy in the Diocese of Lincoln disposes us all to protect the innocence and virtue of children, and to rebuke Satan’s efforts to destroy the Church, her priests, and her children.

In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States, and addressed the sexual abuse crisis in the Church. "Children," he said, "should be spared the degrading manifestations and the crude manipulation of sexuality so prevalent today. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person."

Pope Benedict was right. Our world is a degrading and crude place—and children are particularly vulnerable to the world’s manipulation of sexuality. If we ensure that the Church is a place of purity and innocence, of order and virtue—we may be able to replicate those virtues in the world. If we ensure that children are spared indignity in the Church, we may effectively proclaim their dignity in the world. I am proud of the revised policy in the Diocese of Lincoln—I pray it may help us all to grow in virtue, to defeat the tenacity of Satan, and to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ more credibly to the world.

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