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Lord, Have Mercy View Comments
By John Celichowski, OFM Cap

These are a pilgrim’s reflections. They come from my own experiences and learning as a seminarian, pastor, jail minister, attorney, and Capuchin Franciscan provincial, including conversations with survivors of sexual abuse by clergy and religious, offenders, victim assistance coordinators, experts in the field, and others involved and affected.

For a Church that has healing and reconciliation at the core of our mission, the overreliance on litigation to resolve allegations and help victims and survivors should strike us as odd, even a scandal and a sign of failure. Is there an alternative?

In this reflection I hope to offer an alternative framework to promote justice, healing, and reconciliation; to make the Church a safer place; and to help us become truer to our mission. This framework is already part of our Catholic tradition: the spiritual works of mercy.

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John Celichowski, OFM Cap., is the provincial minister of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, based in Detroit, Michigan.


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First Martyrs of the Church of Rome: There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the “Apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in 57-58 A.D.. 
<p>There was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in 49-50 A.D. Suetonius the historian says that the expulsion was due to disturbances in the city “caused by the certain Chrestus” [Christ]. Perhaps many came back after Claudius’s death in 54 A.D. Paul’s letter was addressed to a Church with members from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. </p><p>In July of 64 A.D., more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their “hatred of the human race.” Peter and Paul were probably among the victims. </p><p>Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. at the age of 31.</p> American Catholic Blog While the future may be uncertain to us, we can rest comfortably in the loving control and sovereignty of our Heavenly Father. We can trust his plan, and we can rely upon his fatherly design and control.

Spiritual Resilience

 
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