Abp Leo Cornelio
How do you look at the recent church scandals?
It is said scandals are bound to happen in the Church. But woe to those who create them! We need to look at it objectively. There are people who call out scandals, then take advantage of it and publicize and make a big noise about it, without knowing the root cause of it. The whole idea behind the Spirit of God is that we should not judge. Judge not and you will not be judged. Now everybody sits in judgment, but the truth is simply forgotten. Reactions to the scandals are bound to come.
What about the accusation of cover up?
You cannot do something until some definite conclusion is arrived at on the objectivity of the accusation. It is difficult to understand the objective truth, without which and one cannot make a judgment and decide on something. A person can take responsibility even though he or she is totally innocent. I mean there are two ways to think of it. One person feels sincerely that he is innocent, but the external world thinks he or she is at fault. We have to be more kind and responsible, but also answerable to God, because God sees everything. It is God who finally judges. Everybody has to ask himself whether he is telling the truth or not. The others will know only the external reality, the external appearance, which may not be the truth. Anybody who sits in judgment needs to see all the pros and cons. So the Church will not decide something immediately, because it may lead to wrong judgement, which would be unjust. But when you have very obvious evidences and witnesses, then it is a different matter. In present world, a lot of witnesses come and swear on the Gita, the Bible or the Quran that they will say only the truth, but do just the opposite. Each one seeks the truth from his or her angle. That leaves the door open for human errors. The Church is very careful about coming to a conclusion. It doesn’t become judgmental until an accusation is really proved. And in the Church we expect everybody to be truthful, because that is what God has said, ‘Truth will make you free.’
St Augustine said, ‘See my wounds, I do not hide anything.’ That was a confession. Are we a confessing Church?
The Church and the Pope have always recognized that the Church is not perfect. Authority cannot also be perfect. Some are put in authority because of certain values that they hold, but they cannot be perfect, that’s why we keep on confessing our failures. Even the Pope apologizes. The Church is the only institution that takes a corporate responsibility. For any member doing something wrong, the authorities apologize. To be judgmental can be unjust to one or the other party. The Church for her part recognizes and stands for the truth, from the universal to the particular Church. Actually, accusations and allegations have to be proved as true. For example, some people say that they have approached many in authority in vain, but with what reason, with what kind of allegation and accusations, that is the important thing. Sometimes the authorities might delay something. At the same time, they don’t ignore as far as possible. I am not saying that the Church doesn’t make mistake. The Church is sinful as well as holy. Holiness and sinfulness, perfection and imperfection, all these are in the Church. As Christ said, one who is sinless in the world let him throw the first stone. Can anybody say that he or she is sinless? This is a big question, which we are not really able to understand. Examine ourselves before we accuse others and make judgments. This is where the problem lies, and that is where the Church suffers. We suffer more from internal problems and criticisms than from external attack. We should realize that we are subjected to enough external attack. We are dividing ourselves within the Church, and that does great harm. That is uncharitable. Let anybody who is sinless in the Church throw the first stone. We are throwing stones at each other to an extent that is definitely unhealthy and sinful.
There is the media and popular support in between. How do you look at the role of the media in such a scandalous situation?
Media today doesn’t search for truth. It is after the sensational. When a bishop or a top person is accused, it becomes sensational. Sometimes people as well as the Church are on the side of the oppressed. Who is the oppressed? We need to make a distinction sometimes, because the oppressor can be the oppressed and oppressed can be the oppressor. Sympathy goes in the direction of the apparently oppressed person, but it may not be always true that the one who is thought of as oppressed is the real oppressed one. The oppressed can bring out sympathies and tears from others. One may really become the oppressor out of revenge. I am not referring to any particular case. In society we have lots of people who cry profusely out of revenge, and it usually happens that the law takes a sympathetic view of them. We have to realize that God sees everything, He judges everything, and if we are people of faith, we need to realize that God sees every little thing that happens, be they actions, commissionsor omissions. God sees our action and attitude. If you are truthful, definitely truth will make us free, others will remain bound. In the ultimate analysis, people will suffer.