I am breathless.
How could so many priests and bishops abuse so many children. How could they work together in the abuse itself and in covering up this great evil so thoroughly. What brings a man of God to such a place that they believe they are worthy of celebrating the sacrifice of the Mass after sacrificing so many innocent lives.
I am angry.
These leaders of the church broke our trust in a planned and concerted way and as I tell my children, once you break my trust, you need to work unceasingly to repair that fissure you have created.
This fissure is deep.
I am blinded.
The pain is so great that I can’t see the way forward. Can anything heal my heart and allow me to trust the episcopacy again?
I can only hope.
I love the Catholic faith and will not let these acts of evil pull me away from something so full of awe and wonder and love. But something must change.
In Matthew 17, we find a story about Jesus expelling a demon from a child after his disciples were unable to do so. They couldn’t understand why they failed, after they had been given the power to heal by Jesus. Jesus’ response is one of my favorites in the bible. He tells his disciples they did not succeed because they did not believe they would succeed. Then he goes on to tell them that all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. The tiniest seed of faith found in our hearts and “nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt. 17:20)
My faith is at least the size of a mustard seed. This brings me hope.
Hope is a virtue I can grab hold of, allowing it to guide me towards the light. Do you know what else is a virtue? Righteous anger. Right now I am hopeful, but I am also angry.
I am angry for all of the victims of abuse, so I will pray in solidarity with them as their lives, once again, become unhinged.
I am angry for all Catholics who are victims of the abuse of power and the abuse of our trust. We put our faith in the leaders of the church, knowing they were human, but hoping, trusting, they would do the will of God.
My heart hurts.
So I will be praying for us and for them.
But I will also be doing much more.
I will be writing my Bishop. I will be writing to the Papal Nuncio. I will be talking to my priest.
I will be asking for two things: penance by those who committed the crimes, and a change in structure so that such crimes can no longer be committed again.
This was a crime of power. One way to stop crimes of power is to open up the decision making table to more diverse voices. We need all of God’s image guiding the church. We need women publicly leading the way.
Long ago, the church listened to women’s voices.
Jesus listened as his mother asked him to perform his first miracle. At first he said no, but then realized she was right, that their friends needed to celebrate. One of my favorite miracles is Jesus’ first, not just because he brought joy to the people, but because we see the power his mother held in his life. Jesus listened to his mother.
Jesus still listens to his mother.
Priscilla was mentioned multiple times in the bible, indicating her voice was well-respected in the early Christian church. She and her husband, Aquila, likely trusted one another and listened to each other as they made decisions impacting the early Christian community they led. Aquila turned to Priscilla for wisdom.
Where is Priscilla’s voice today?
I’m not suggesting that this horror would not have happened if women had been present when these evils were uncovered, but I am suggesting that this may not have happened if women were there.
Maybe it’s time to make a shift so that the entirety of God’s image leads the faithful.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.
St. Joan of Arc, pray for us.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us.