A French intellectual and Jewish convert to Catholicism says the clerical sex abuse crisis has damaged the Church's worldy reputation but "the Church is not a cover girl. She does not live on her image in the media."
In a recent interview, Fabrice Hadjadj, a 39 year-old French convert from Judaism twelve years ago and former atheist and anarchist, told the French newspaper Le Figaro that the current crisis lived by the Church is not unprecedented. He noted that Church history is filled with other crises — such as the terrible Arian heresy of the 4th century and scandalous popes — but the Church has survived. This is, for Hadjadj, a testament to the spiritual strength of the Catholic faith and the reality that while all other institutions have been swept away by storms over two thousand years, “the barque of Peter” has continued down the road of history and has learned from these crises. It is, he says, in the Church’s nature to grow from these problems.
But Hadjadj, author of an award-winning critique of atheism, La Foi des demons (The Faith of Demons, 2009), does not downplay the severity or the impact of the current crisis for the Church. The crimes committed by a priest are far more serious than those committed by a PE teacher, and this has legitimized the media’s focus on the Church.
But there is a paradox, he said: Attacking the perverted acts of Catholic clergy shows an instinctive recognition of the original purity of their special mission. According to Hadjadj, Pope Benedict XVI knows this mystery of the priest profoundly and sees that these crimes are even more terrible than the media, but not Christians, can conceive. This is why Pope Benedict has worked to solve the situation.
But crises will always be a reality for the Church, he said. Turmoil and problems have been present since the beginning because the beautiful harmony of the world has been broken since the beginning. “We will,” Hadjadj reminds us, “never finish with crises. And, somehow, this is not so bad. You know the word ‘crisis’ comes from the Greek verb krinein, which means to screen or discern. The crisis situation prevents us from resting on our laurels. It pushes us to ask ourselves the question of meaning, to dig into ourselves and become much wider and deeper."