Preacher to Curia: Christians wounded by clerical greed, pedophilia

IMAGE: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, handout

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The sexual abuse of minors and greed
by members of the clergy have left Christians wounded, a
Servite priest told
the pope and Vatican officials during their Lenten retreat.

“Pedophilia and the attachment to money are the
two behaviors of the clergy that have most wounded and angered the Christian people,” Servite Father Ermes Ronchi said during the retreat March 9.

The church, he said, is capable of being
transparent like Christ, who “never allowed himself to be bought and never entered the
palaces of the powerful as anything other than a prisoner.”

Father Ronchi, a member of
Rome’s Pontifical “Marianum” theological faculty, was chosen by Pope
Francis to lead the March 6-11 retreat for the Roman Curia at the Pauline Fathers’
retreat center in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome.

In his morning meditation
March 9, the Italian theologian reflected on a question asked by Jesus prior to miraculously
feeding thousands: “How many loaves do you have?”

This question, he said, “is asked
to all of his disciples, even today: How much money do you have? How many
houses? How many jewels do you possess, perhaps in the form of a cross or a

The Servite priest told the members of
the Roman Curia that the church must not be afraid of transparency or “of clarity
on its own loaves and fishes, on its own goods.”

“It is instead the smokescreens
that are raised and evasive answers behind which we shield ourselves that erode
trust and credibility,” Father Ronchi said.

Only through transparency can one
truly experience freedom,
he said, adding that members of the clergy can become liars when they are
either bought or give in to fear.

Like those who gave their five loaves
and two fishes in order to feed thousands, Father Ronchi urged Vatican officials to
place their goods in Jesus’ hands “without calculating, without holding
anything back for yourselves.”

“If I offer my bread and I give a
hungry person something to eat, I do not change the world; I do not change the
structures of inequality,” he said. “But, I have introduced the idea
that hunger is not invincible, that the hunger of others is also my concern,
that I should not cast aside those in need and that sharing is the most proper
human form.”

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