In light of allegations against shepherds who may have offended members of their flock emotionally, physically, psychologically, some Catholics have called for the resignation of our bishop, some even for that of our pope. Would this solution reflect Jesus’ teachings? Would it create healing? Does it demonstrate any solidarity for our family, already so wounded?
But what about the victims? Don’t they have the right to recourse? Don’t they have the right to be hurt, angry, frustrated, disillusioned and vengeful? Don’t we all have that right?
If that is my right, I respectfully relinquish it. I do so alongside many brave survivors of the Holocaust, who transcended their torture by forgiving their transgressors; with Mahatma Gandhi and his followers, who peacefully prevailed over their political oppressors; and with Pope St. John Paul II, who offered swift and sincere clemency to his would-be assassin. These examples of true freedom exhibit how one may be delivered from the vise of any antagonist, transforming victims into victors, and those worthy of pity into those who exercise real power.
The Beatitudes state the destiny of those brought low and mistreated – all good things! The woman caught in adultery, Matthew the tax collector, and the thief hanging next to Him, Jesus exonerated. His stance mirrored mercy for those who did wrong, not those who were wronged.
Isn’t this a radical posture, going against the earthly principles of fairness, legality and justice? Yes, it is. But it’s what distinguishes Christians from the rest of the world.