It’s Saturday morning. Pope Francis lands in Ireland, Niall’s native land. Niall is eager to switch on the computer. Through a live feed we can watch the Pope’s visit without filters or commentary as he goes through a day of meetings, speeches and journeys. With only the images and the sounds of the moment to see and hear, we manage to follow the visit as we do our usual household chores. Our children know that it’s a special day and only a worthy exception justifies us having a computer turned on during mealtime as we listen to the speeches of the Irish Taioseach (Prime Minister) and the Pope. Niall smiles happily and from time to time sings a few lines of the national anthem or points proudly at the landscape that is so familiar to him.
In the afternoon, the Pope visits Saint Mary’s Pro Cathedral where he has a meeting with dozens of engaged couples, newly-weds and couples celebrating their silver and golden wedding anniversaries. The church is full, with lots of pregnant women, babies and some children. The Pope speaks in a tone of familiarity and everyone smiles and giggles while the children blithely make their usual noise. “The most beautiful music is always the music of the children”, the Pope says, as he has often said before. The mood couldn’t be more relaxed.
At the end of the day, Niall turned on the television to an English news channel to see the summary of the Pope’s visit. To our bewilderment, the journalists and commentators made not a single mention of the most part of the Pope’s speeches nor of the meeting with the young couples in the Cathedral in Dublin. Not a reference to the incredible joy of the families that welcomed the Pope, nor to the words of hope, faith and love that the Pope had for the young couples and that had moved me to tears. The only reference was to the scandal of the sexual abuse cases and the disappointment of the victims in the face of the lack of action on the part of the Church and the Pope. It seemed as if the Pope had come to Ireland only because of the terrible sexual abuses, and not to the World Meeting of Families. The lack of impartiality of the media is sadly blatant.
We continued to watch the news, hoping to see one or two interviews with the families who had participated in the meeting, or the organizers. But what came on the screen was a lady, a representative of the abuse victims, interviewed with generous air time. She was not satisfied with the words of the Pope, nor with the letter that the Pope had recently written, groundbreaking in the history of the Church as it was, in which he recognized the terrible sin of the sexual abuses. And so that no doubt were to be left, this lady said in plain words what many have already understood: “We won’t be satisfied until the Catholic Church is destroyed”.
Satan must laugh with pleasure on these days, after all, he’s achieving his objective: to distract attention away from the solution and towards the evil of men and women.
Because anyone who has ears to hear will have already understood what the solution to the terrible sins of the Church is. The solution is not to make heads role – that’s a requirement of justice that should be fulfilled to its ultimate consequence, but it’s not the solution. Neither is the solution contained in vengeance, hatred and the rage that opens wounds instead of healing them. And finally, the solution is not in a world without the Church that would play hostage to the hypocrisy of a state that condemns – and rightly so – the abuses perpetrated against children that are born, but accepts without any problem that millions are killed before they are born, assassinated in the very place that is supposed to be the safest place in the world – the mother’s womb.
The solution lies in what the news channels insist on not showing: the joy, the faith, the hope, the playful children around the altar, the expectant couples, the couples who insist on receiving the sacrament of matrimony despite the attacks of the world, the couples who educate their children to be saints that they might respond to a possible vocation to religious life with holiness. The solution is in a future that needs to be one of life, joy, fidelity and love.
We know that the persecutors of the Church will not rest while they don’t destroy it (and they won’t, according to the promise of Jesus…). We know that the times of apostasy, of Christian persecution and of hatred towards the Church are only beginning. We know that things are going to get worse and that our children will be called to a degree of heroism that was not necessary for us.
But as we become aware that, like in Cana, there is no more wine, we also recognise the maternal presence of Mary around the world, the earthen vessels of graces poured out over us and the penetrating words whispered into every heart:
Do whatever Jesus tells you! (Jn 2:5)
Only the Gospel can cure, can heal wounds and convert hearts. Only the Gospel can bring new saints into the world and rebuild the ruins of Jerusalem. Only the Gospel can attach tendons, make flesh and cover the dry bones of the vision of Ezekiel with skin as we heard in the readings last week, and put breath into them, giving them life in the Spirit.
May the World Meeting of Families commit us to being witnesses of love! Amen.