BISHOP ANTONI DYDYCZ ABOUT A SIN, REPORTING AND A SECRET OF CONFESSION
WE EXPECT EQUAL TREATMENT OF EVERYBODY BY CIVILIAN AUTHORITIES AND JOURNALISTS
On the feast of All Saints’, bishop Antoni Dydycz, the Ordinary of Drohiczyn devoted his pastoral letter to the call for holiness and also the evil which is our obstacle on the road to holiness. Following the example of John Paul II, he emphasized that today’s world needs the holiness of the Christians who in ordinary conditions will undertake their everyday duties (see John Paul II, Stary Sącz, 16 June 1999), he also pointed to the evil which is an obstacle for the Christians – sins are taking on various forms. ‘Thinking about their existence in the human life, we sometimes feel surprised by their ingenuity, and especially by an exceptional symbiosis with a lie’ – bishop Dydycz writes in the letter.
Emphasizing that every man can become a sinner as well as everybody can become a saint, and he also pointed to the truth that only the Church is looking at a sin from the perspective of holiness and hope for salvation, bishop Dydycz said that this reality, connected with the Church, faces up the biggest obstacles because many people do not want to accept it, reject it, at the same time becoming addicted to the devil.
Referring to the words of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, that ‘…..latent sense of blame and inability of complete forgetting about one’s shortcomings nor receiving absolution causes tension which becomes weakened in contacts with ‘even worse’ people, and it becomes stronger in relations with people who are ‘blameless’ (Ludwik Sowiński, ‘Tolerance and responsibility’, in: ‘Notebooks of the National Education’, vol. I, Paris 1986, p.95), bishop Dydycz pointed to a phenomenon defined with the name of ‘a holy paradox’, appearing in a relatively easy accusing people of the Church of a sin.
In the further part of the letter, bishop of Drohiczyn writes on this issue: ‘We remember the above examples, in order to touch on an issue which has become popular in the last months. The issue concerns accusations of priests of pedophilia and also a very aggressive attack on the Church. There are accusations of a sin, and accusations of the Church of concealing the sin. As it was said, the Church has never concealed the sin of priests. The Holy Scripture is a confirmation for it, as well as the everyday practice of the Church. Priests are obliged for attending the holy confession practically every second week. And because a sin may happen, it is something obvious. A different issue is when we sometimes exaggerate in accusations. It is taking place now. About 3 thousand priests, including nuns and lay volunteers work in various countries, especially missionary countries. According to the opinions of our diplomats, Polish missionaries are also excellent ambassadors of Polishness. They devote themselves a lot. They devote their life. A few of our missionaries have been murdered recently. Why is there so little information about these facts?
And whereas one of missionaries has been accused of alleged pedophilia for a few days. There is not any verdict yet, but media are outlining the issue in such a way that it is unimaginable how this man will be able to live among people in the future. I do not know how many issues concerning pedophilia are in Poland at all. Once it was written that about 2 thousand cases, another time about 600. But if media devoted so much time to every case of pedophilia, like in this one case, then they would have enough material for a few dozen years forward.
It proves bias. What is more there are attacks on the Church because its representatives are not scandal informers and they do not pass any information to suitable institutions. This issue is extremely delicate, and very important for the Church. For, at this moment it should be reminded that the sacrament of confession is kept in secret. For this reason, every priest is a potential trustee of many issues, including the most terrible ones, like murders. The Church puts a great pressure on the secret of confession. And it must be stated that it happens very rarely that a confessor might forget about it. Whereas many priests paid their life for the confession secret. Among nearly half a million of priests giving confession on the globe, I have not heard during my life of 75 years, that there would be a treachery of the confession secret anywhere. It is a great God’s grace. (…).
And, therefore, one cannot out a pressure on priests to be cooperators of secular institutions. After all, state authorities have thousands of people who are suitable prepared and they also have various methods how to reach to the sources of evil as quickly as possible, and it is not necessary to involve priests in it. (…)
Whereas, in reference to priests’ offenses, the canonical law envisages enough sanctions for them. One can only refer to them to use them. Let them be used. Whereas secular authorities should stand on guard of safety of people according to the civil law. (…)
This is the Gospel. And Christ encourages us to it. We are looking at evil somehow from three points of view: the first aspect – is the reality of a sin, the second one – is somebody who was harmed, and the third one - is a culprit. We always try judge the fact of evil in the most honest way. We are caring about helping a victim which is extremely important in the case of pedophilia. But we do not leave a sinner without hope either. For, thanks to Christ’s sacrifice, he can become converted. He can even become a saint. He can bring a lot of good. On this occasion, it is again seen that only the Church cares about every man, about his life, upbringing and conversion, if it would be necessary. (…)
For this reason, we should remember that the Church, facing the evil, always saves the man. And, therefore, it is looking for the evil sources, in order to put a dam against a sin. This way of thinking and love were expressed in the words of the Chairman of the Polish Episcopal Conference about the need of removing causes, also in reference to pedophilia. The very punishment of a pedophile, even the toughest one, is only one case. Whereas, removing causes is a rescue for thousands of people. Removing pornography from the modern culture, showing good morality, strengthening the human will in aiming at good and many other actions with an ordinary prayer in the background, will help purify our epoch from any kind of fumes floating above moral scandals.
Finishing, I also want to address a few sentences to priests. Let all dioceses hear them! Guard your minds, hearts and senses. We must not get frustrated because of our sins but we should rise from them. And we expect equal treatment of everybody by civilian authorities and journalists, thanking in advance for their expressing good manners and sensitivity to the human dignity, even of a weak man. Moreover, I remind priests about the words of Jesus: ‘Do not be afraid, go to the whole world and preach the Gospel’. Look for lost sheep in a steadfast way. And do not be afraid of persecutions or difficulties. Next Jesus adds: ‘….I send you as sheep into a herd of wolves. Be sensible like snakes and innocent like pigeons. Beware of people: for they will sue you to courts, they will whip you. They will also take you to governors and kings – because of me – so that you would report your behaviour to them. But if they sue you, do not be afraid or worried about what to say: you will know what to say at a particular moment. Because not you will be you speaking but the Spirit of Your Father will speak in you. (…) And you will be the subject of hatred for everybody because of my name, but who endures till the end, he will be redeemed. (…) Do not be afraid. (…) Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, as they cannot kill the soul. (…) Aren’t two sparrows sold for one ace? And none of them falls on the ground without Father’s will. (…) So, do not be afraid: you are worth more than a lot of sparrows. Whoever opts for me against people, I will opt for him in front of my Father who is in Heaven’. (see Mt 10.16-32).