There are three big news items making the circuit today. One is the death of John McCain, a second is more attacks on Donald Trump no matter what he says or does, and the third is the Catholic sex scandal. I am tired of hearing about the wonderful John McCain and the terrible Donald Trump, so that leaves the Catholic sex scandal to discuss.
The Catholic Church has faced numerous sex scandals over the past few years, but this one is big. Sometime over the weekend U.S. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the U.S., sent a scathing letter calling for Pope Francis to resign. This letter hit like a bomb! It seems that Viganó knows some inside information about the Pope. He says that the Pope knew about the sexual abuse perpetrated by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, knew that McCarrick was under disciplinary sanctions by the previous Pope Benedict, and lifted the sanctions to free McCarrick to do whatever he chose. Viganó went full bore on the Pope:
He knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator. Although he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end; indeed, he made McCarrick’s advice his own, which was certainly not inspired by sound intentions and for love of the Church. It was only when he was forced by the report of the abuse of a minor, again on the basis of media attention, that he took action [regarding McCarrick] to save his image in the media. [He continues]
In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.
Now I have been leery of Pope Francis from the beginning because Pope Benedict was basically ousted under the influence of Barack Obama – or so it seemed to me. I have always questioned why Benedict abdicated and Francis took his place. However, I am putting all my thoughts and feelings about Pope Francis aside, and considering how the lay members of the Catholic Church must be feeling. They surely must be wondering what in the world is happening to their church. They must be stunned with the news that the Pope, the Holy Father, the head of the church, was instrumental in covering up sexual abuse! I feel sincerely sorry for the situation that has been thrust upon the members of the Catholic Church.
I tried to imagine how I would feel if a member of one of the leading quorums of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were to call for our Prophet, Seer, and Revelator to resign over similar charges. It would be a devastating situation for all of us! It would certainly challenge many testimonies and cause countless members of the Church of Jesus Christ to question everything they had been taught. I cannot imagine such a thing happening in the Church of Jesus Christ, but I am sure that faithful Catholics once felt the same way. What does one do when one has a “bomb” like this explode in their spiritual lap?
The first thing that we must do is to remember that all mortals are human and capable of being deceived by Satan and his minions. This is just one important reason to pray for our leaders that they might remain strong. The second thing that I would do is to remember the foundation for my testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ.
My testimony is based on personal revelation from the Holy Ghost that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is literally the Church of Jesus Christ on earth; therefore, I can stand firm on this testimony in spite of what any mortal leader may say or do.
I find comfort in the teachings of prophets and apostles who teach that the Lord will never allow the Prophet to lead us astray. In October 2016 then-President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Elder Russell M. Nelson counseled a group of Millennials to follow the Prophet and taught the following.
The Lord has promised us that He will never allow the prophet to lead us astray. President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) declared: “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that `the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (Doctrine and Covenants 21:6).”
You may not always understand every declaration of a living prophet. But when you know a prophet is a prophet, you can approach the Lord in humility and faith and ask for your own witness about whatever His prophet has proclaimed.
I follow this counsel carefully. I went to the Lord and asked for confirmation that Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s prophet for today, and I received an affirmative answer. I have also asked for confirmation from the Lord on numerous teachings and policies. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by the Lord Jesus Christ through His prophets and apostles. I know that I can trust their counsel and follow their examples. I am grateful for this testimony because it gives me firm ground upon which to build my life.