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.