Of all passages from the Gospels, I find Matthew 24:12 most chilling: "And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold." This little verse attributed to Our Lord Himself in His prognostications about the final days I find gut-wrenching as it confirms what I've observed over the last 60 years of my life — that we are in the end times.
This world encourages and condones millions of its offspring to be murdered outright in the womb (thanks to Roe v. Wade here in the United States and equivalent legislation in almost every other nation on earth). This world, on the one hand, abolished slavery worldwide but, on the other, now has millions of individuals who have suffered from sex trafficking and porn production. This world prides itself in being "democratic," but is in reality ruled by a small cadre of elites! The hearts of many men are now stone cold and deaf!
The words of the prophet Jeremiah come to mind: "Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear" (Jeremiah 5:21). The prophet lamented the loss of faith on the part of Israel, a falling away that ushered in the destruction of the nation. What, may I ask, does this new worldwide apostasy and general wickedness portend for our immediate future?
At 60 years old, I will be lucky to have 20, perhaps 30 years more — if God blesses me and permits it. For this sorry and very sinful world, it's hard to think this is not its final chapter.
From where I stand, it does not really matter much if we're on page 1 or page 11 of the final chapter. But I worry about my grandnephews and nieces who have been born these past few months into a world wherein so many humans act inhumanly, denying the very God who created it all!
Look closely at St. Augustine's end-of-life writings, which serve as a testament to the demise of Rome. My ruminations today are reminiscent of the tragedy he watched unfold with his own eyes. And Rome came to its end! Will our own civilization merely come to an end, or is this the final end of the world and all of its civilizations?
You may rightfully ask, "Why, Father, do you write in such a morose and melancholy voice, focusing upon such dire topics as abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, sex trafficking, the burgeoning porn industry and the like?" Well, as you may have heard, I traveled to Baltimore a couple of weeks back and spoke as a witness on behalf of St. Michael's Media in its suit against the city of Baltimore, which is working to quash the scheduled "Enough Is Enough!" rally and protest.
As a witness, I was called up to the stand a second after abuse-victim James Grein spoke. And for the first time ever, as a 60-year-old man, I was able to speak in a court of law about the sexual predation I suffered as a youth. As I gave my verbal testimony in this federal courtroom before U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander, I was able to verbalize, to discuss for the first time ever — decades after the abuse — how the abuse affected me. And it felt great! Talk about a burden I carried on my shoulders for decades. I felt relieved, despite the passage of many years, that for once, a court was finally listening to the hurt that I had suffered so long ago.
But then, after speaking for 20 minutes or so, the city counsel, Renita Collins, asked me, "So what is the significance of speaking at the MECU Pavilion as compared to some other hotel in Baltimore?" Collins' question took my breath away. Then, after sitting there flabbergasted for more than a minute, I asked her directly, "So what are you asking me?" To which she repeated her question — word for word! I stammered back at her angrily, as her question belittled absolutely everything I had spoken about for the prior 20 minutes and demonstrated that she had not even read my written testimony (which I had submitted to the court before the hearing). So, despite my high hopes and prayers, this woman showed no concern and no kindness — only stone-cold deafness. She had not heard a damn word I'd said!
This deafness to victims of sexual abuse is nothing new. In this fallen world, it is the norm, whether in a secular court or in a bishop's office. When I was abused in August of 1982, Bernardin's chancellery in Chicago did absolutely nothing to stop my predator, Fr. Lawrence Cozzi, from going on to abuse others — although my abuse was reported the very day it happened, with all the gory detail, by my pastor Fr. Albert Corbo.
My predator would go on to abuse others after me until the day he died — with no civil or canonical penalties whatsoever! And, decades later, I would meet up with other victims of this predator, who, like me, were only given a deaf ear by those responsible for doing something to stop it! But those in positions of responsibility often turn a deaf ear!
In 2008, at the behest of my therapist, I set up a formal meeting with the provincial of the Scalabrinian order here in the United States. He was a kind man, gracious and all that, but stone deaf. After pouring out my heart to him and telling the tragedy that had occurred at the hands of one of his confreres when I was a young man of 19, he responded with the quip, "Oh I did not know Fr. Cozzi had a drinking problem!" Father Cozzi's drinking was one of the least of his problems. What about his problem with buggering young men? I left the session saddened and disheartened. Just another Church official who was in power, but powerless to do anything about the evil of homosexual predation among the men in his own community.
In retrospect, my condemnation of all those "turning a deaf ear" should not be restricted to the hierarchy of the Church! In the aftermath of the Boston Globe's sex abuse report in 2002, I recall vividly when some news outfit camped outside Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral and approached me with the question, "Can we ask you a few questions, Father?" I was teaching at the high school seminary Quigley at the time and had just parked my car in the cathedral parking lot.
"So, Father, they continued, "What do you think about the Boston Globe's report? Isn't it shocking?"
I recall giving the crew assembled on Holy Name Cathedral's steps an earful: "The sexual predation of young men is nothing new and has been rampant in the Church for the last couple of decades, and I am the victim of such sexual abuse."
But the Chicago news crew, much enamored with the leftist Church leaders entrenched in Chicago, also turned a deaf ear to what I shared from the heart. Cold men, with even colder hearts. The news team had their predetermined package already completed with a bow — and in Chicago that meant that, in 2002, the recently deceased Cdl. Joseph Bernardin was a "saint" (compared to Boston's horrible cardinal Bernard Law).
That evening, I scanned the local Chicago news reports and, despite the time I spent with the news crew on Holy Name Cathedral's steps earlier in the day, there was no video of me as a Chicago priest pushing back against Bernardin's sainthood. No one in Chicago's media circa 2002 wanted to report that Bernardin's chancery, in 1982, 20 years earlier, had turned a deaf ear to a 19-year-old victim of homosexual predation.
At this moment in time, on Oct. 13, it's still debatable whether or not St. Michael's Media will be able to have its scheduled "Enough Is Enough!" rally at the MECU Pavilion on Nov. 16. But, as a victim, just one of the many thousands of victims of homosexual predation at the hands of clerics in the Church, I will not be silenced or told to "shut up" ever again, with or without the city of Baltimore's approbation.