Will A&P Catholics Still Flock to Church on Palm Sunday?

The ever-widening abuse scandal is a participation in the Passion and Death of Jesus because victims of sexual abuse are surely carrying their own crosses. In addition, good priests have been painted with the same marring brush as criminal pedophiles, and they are once again needing to prove themselves worthy of the call to ministry and service to congregants who aren't sure who to believe or trust anymore. The church hangs on the cross with Christ yearning for a rebirth from the shame and destruction left in the wake of ecclesial misconduct and sinfulness.

One would think that remorseful bishops everywhere would exhort their priests to prepare straightforward and honest homilies for Passion Sunday about the scandal with the hope of reassuring the faithful that the church is more than the sum of its sinful ministers and leaders. The church is, after all, more importantly the people who will gather to wave palms remembering a man who died to remind us that goodness trumps evil and that forgiveness and mercy is more powerful than sin.

And, yes, some of those gathering this Passion/Palm Sunday will be A&P Catholics, whom we don't see every Sunday in the pews. All the more reason to give them something to hear that is honest and humble and real. That just may be the impetus they need to show up more than only twice a year.

Father Edward L. Beck, C.P. is a Roman Catholic priest of the Passionist Community. He is the author of three books, "God Underneath," "Unlikely Ways Home" and "Soul Provider," all published by Doubleday. In addition to conducting retreats and workshops on spirituality nationally and internationally, Father Beck is a religion contributor for ABC NEWS. He hosts a weekly TV and Internet show for ABC called "Focus on Faith" with Chris Cuomo of "Good Morning America" and is also a commentator on religious and faith issues for various other media outlets including CNN and Fox Television. Father Beck is the executive producer and host of "The Sunday Mass," which airs nationally each week.

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