Johannes Benninghoff, Youth Minister – 5 DEC 2018

I am honored to be given an opportunity to be a part of this Advent series. I think the questions that the parish asked are important questions to answer as we journey together on our way Home. I am comforted by the fact that our teens share the same questions as the young adults and the rest of the parish. Many times, we act as though the teens are off in their own little world in the youth group. This is far from the reality. Teens are very observant on what is happening around them and we owe it to them to be authentic and care for their souls (e.g. Matthew 18:1-7).

Certainly, one of the worst sins against evangelization is scandal. This is why the Church is very careful when dealing with sins of scandal. However, it is abhorrent that some Bishops chose to handle sins of scandal by covering them up. It is helpful to remember St. Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:11 when he tells us to expose sinful works. This is why it is good for all Catholics, not just clergy, to take an active role in exposing disgusting actions by various members of the Church hierarchy no matter if they are clergy or laity.

The fruitfulness of exposing sins and who is being addressed is exactly why Archbishop Vigano’s testimonies are so eye catching. They are statements implicating the Successor of Peter himself, Pope Francis. We do have Free Will as given to us by God and so we are allowed to analyze and critique moves by clerics. When it comes to the testimonies that implicate Pope Francis, it is wise to take a prayerful approach. The Church has endured much worse times than the sometimes-ugly conservative vs. liberal dichotomy taking place. Abp. Vigano’s testimonies do raise serious concerns and we, as Catholics, can decide to believe them or not.

With all that being said, the most important point to remember is that the Church as an institution is not the same as the people in charge of running it. Christ is the ultimate Head of the Church and nothing shall prevail against Her. Humans have Free Will and are subject to their sinful natures, which is why people in great positions of power can commit irresponsible and evil acts. However, this does not mean the entire institution is in need of tearing down, because the institution is in charge of revealing the path to Heaven (see Matthew 16:18-19).

Christ is the way, the truth, and the Life (John 14:6), and since I cannot speak for our Lord, I will give my opinion on what he would do in this political climate based on this truth. He would look at the root of any political conflict and address it with mercy and justice. He would look beyond the personal infighting between competing ideologies and proclaim the truth. As we prepare ourselves for our Lord’s coming, let us always seek truth and look for the root of any problem. When the problem is done away with at the root, it is less likely to return. Have a blessed Advent.