Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lent got off to a bumpy start.

We were informed at the end of the 9:15am Ash Wednesday service that our priest was one of 21 clergy members in the Philadelphia Archdiocese put on leave for suspicion of child abuse.

It was an interesting juxtaposition of feelings. I remember walking into church feeling like I was in dire need of a Lenten season of renewal, but also feeling hopeful and good. And then I walked out feeling sucker-punched.

I don't really have a lot of Catholics in my life that I can discuss this with. I wouldn't exactly call our church community vibrant. It's the kind of church people go to, and then leave. There's no Bible study, no volunteer community, no book clubs, no places for discussion. I checked the parish online bulletin board when I got home, but it was closed due to spam. It somehow seemed entirely fitting.

On my way out that morning, an elderly woman told me she hoped this was all a horrible mistake.


I tried to discuss it with one very Catholic friend, and the 'conversation' left me prickly. In her words, 'she wasn't going to participate in judgment,' and the thoughts that went through my brain following that statement were very uncharitable.

Seriously? No thoughts on what is going on? What has been going on, like, forever? When the entire course of some people's lives has been put on a trajectory of pain? When those who could protect fail to do so?

I think it's all very fine and good not to cast stones, but when you have a situation that involves the systematic cover-up of horrendous child abuse, it changes things a lot. And I think some stones should be cast. I think some stones should be thrown, hard. Or hung around necks, like the millstones Christ talked about.

I didn't go to Mass this past Sunday.

The crappy fact of it all is that I trust no one. And it's sad that I trust the hands of Eucharistic ministers more than I trust the hands of the ordained.


De said...

Oh crap. I'm so sorry. This is the news I am always waiting to hear, thinking about in the back of my mind whenever I feel affection for one of our priests, when I leavethe door to the confessional open behind my daughter, when the men of the church try to befriend my son.

There is too much to say and I've only got my phone here, but I wanted to respond to your pain right away.

MemeGRL said...

Call me. We'll go for coffee, or whatever you didn't give up for Lent. We're struggling over here too, and it's some comfort (though not as much as you'd think) that our priest is suffering too. (Can you imagine how betrayed they feel? Oh, yeah, probably. But imagine--it's not just your church, it's your job, your home, and not just your bishop but the one you are supposed to call Father, making every person you serve look at you like you're next. UGH for them. And Ugh for all of us.)
Sorry, I'm on a tangent. Call me. Or write on FB and we'll find a time. I'm in there with you.

Kelly Normal said...

We aren't called to place our trust in people, really, just in God. People will always fail us, but God? His mercies are new every morning, and for that I say 'thanks be to God'.

Anonymous said...

I wish that you and I could meet for coffee... I thought about you when I first read this and was wondering about you and other Phila people who might be in churches where this happened.

It is sickening and infuriating.

It is hard for me to square also because I work with so many priests. The majority of them are good men - perhaps maybe only mediocre men, but not bad men.

The institutional hierarchy is what makes me so furiously angry. How could this happen????

How could this continue to happen???

Fran at work so not in my normal id.

De said...

still thinking of you - especially when yesterday's gospel was Matthew 23: "Woe unto you, Pharisees."

I don't think Jesus would put up with this Church at all.

Trust yourself, Kelly - unlike so many others, you listen for Him to speak to you, so trust what your heart and conscience is telling you.

Lora said...

as a non-Catholic who surrounds herself with Catholics, I struggle so much with my feelings toward the Church, and all the good men who must deal with the accusatory eyes they must feel all day, every day.

I'm angry at the bureacracy of the church. At the poor choices made.

As someone who has worked with sexual offenders and sexually offended people, I feel pity for the lost souls who were allowed entry into the priesthood. I'm angry that they were allowed in. Angry that so many put their trust in them. Angry that they used their power. But pity. I have yet to meet a pedophile who is happy with his or her sickness, his or her preferences. It's got to be a hellish way to live.

And for the victims and their loved ones, my heart breaks. Again and again.

I love you. Keep your faith. Like Kelly Normal said. It isn't God doing these things. It's men.