This clergy abuse scandal rearing its ugly head again is really messing me up. I have finally become somewhat comfortable with being Catholic again, one of the reasons I left the church was the Boston scandal, and now we have another one.
In my last post, I talked about how I am going to deal with questions regarding this when I begin my stint as a catechist for my local RCIA program. I have been reading more on this, especially about the Boston piece. The more I read the more upset I get. Not only at the abusive priests, after all, we are all sinners, rather at all those who knew what was going on and turned the other way. How can those who are supposed to be the moral guardians for the rest of us be trusted?
I know the Evil One will find a way to infiltrate the church and its people. Obviously, this is what happened here, so how do we know if our pastor or bishop hasn’t done that, covered something up, turned the other way? I have read several accounts where other priests walked in on another priest as he was victimizing a boy and they just turned around and walked away. One even had the nerve to remind the abuser to turn off the lights when he was done. To me, this is a bigger and much more egregious sin. Do I know my pastor didn’t do this? Let me be clear I believe my pastor wouldn’t turn his back but who knows. Didn’t these victims think they could trust their priests?
I know I am painting with a broad brush here but it is going to be difficult going forward to trust clergy again. The good news is we can still believe in Jesus. He still is the light, the truth, and the way. Maybe when I was thirteen the same thing could have happened to me. In some of the accounts I have been reading, most of the victims had no idea what was happening to them. They hadn’t experienced any sexual activity yet and when those hormones start raging they are easy prey. I might have been too. This is why it is up to us, the laity, the adults in the room, to be ever vigilant. We need to teach our children about these things. We need to report anything suspicious, not just to the diocese but to the police as well. Sadly this is the world we live in.
So what is the answer? I believe it can be found in John 6:60 – 69 where Jesus is giving the “Bread of Life ” discourse. This just happens to be the gospel reading this week. After most of his followers leave because they want nothing to do with eating his body and drinking his blood, Jesus asks the twelve if they also will leave. Peter replies “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words to eternal life.”
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God. – John 6:67 – 68
This needs to be our answer as well if we are thinking of leaving the church. To whom shall we go? Where else will we find the words to eternal life?