I am a rosary praying, Mother Mary loving, confession going catholic girl. I’ve been a catholic for the past three decades of my life and I’m going to remain there for the next 70 yrs..
I love the traditions of the church; there’s nothing that compares to the peace found in kneeling before Jesus in the blessed sacrament on the altar, singing hymns that are 200 yrs old, The uniformity found in all masses be it in Europe, Alaska, Australia, Africa. I think Africa probably has the most lively Masses. Can’t hold the African man down!
I have always loved the Priests I have been blessed to meet in Mass or in confession. Some were wonderful, some struggle with obvious sins like the rest of us. Nobody said it was easy. The priesthood despite the political drama people have attribute to it is a Holy Calling. Priests are not made in a day. Many started in the various seminaries but dropped out [voluntarily or otherwise]before the final profession because it was ascertained that they couldn’t stand the emotional and physical rigours it demanded. A priest always had a choice. So when he made his vows he knew what he was taking on….
After all if we accept that in the institution of marriage that man and woman must remain faithful to one another forever, why do we find it difficult to understand or accept a man/woman who has chosen Jesus forever and ever? Enough said.
I have been taught and come to believe that the church is the body of Christ. And we all make up that body: Pope, Priest, Catechumen, Lay apostolate serving our different functions with CHRIST as the Head.
In this present times, the body of Christ is hurting and I can’t sleep for the hurts. For the pain of the victims of sexual abuse. The little children who came to seek God and rather found pain; their innocence ripped from them.
And I hurt for these priests who had been given such a great and sacred responsibility and have failed so badly.
Each headline with the tag: abuse, catholic, pope, Vatican, priest, boys, hits me like a whip. I close my eyes and turn the page willing myself not to read then steal back to read it..feeling its better to know what is going on. Better to know each new allegation. And maybe that’s why the reactions of Catholics has looked so negative. You can’t claim to be separate from what is happening.
I try to put myself in the shoes of these now adult kids who were abused, or their parents or siblings and I know I would have been baying for the priest’s blood.
Then I put myself in the shoes in the Pope/Cardinal Ratzinger 14 years ago and I wonder…Would I have thought these were my choices then:
Silence the matter and save the loss of faith of the larger congregation/lose the few of the abused OR
Expose the sin and save the few and maybe loose the larger congregation
The second choice would have been the most painful but it would have been the redeeming of the church. Now it all looks like some cover up worthy of the FBI. Did he think it was the body of Christ protecting the weak links? Maybe But we know what happens in Science don’t we? The weak parts, the genetic irregularities usually becomes the source of festering sores which end up spreading to other parts. Maybe if priests knew there was a zero tolerance for sexual abuse they would have tried harder to flee from the sin.
I accept that the Pope is infallible so I shall not deign to proffer advice him, but the way forward must include a zero tolerance for sexual laxity/impropriety. Priesthood has always been a choice. If you can't take it, leave and don’t surly the image of the priesthood.
[I just thought of something I should investigate… Who terminates a priest? Himself or the Pope? Because come to think of it, the oath was to God, and we the witnesses are bound by the familiar clause 'what God has joined together, no man should put asunder. That term is a most serious promise in the Catholic church. I do think thats why the church finds it soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo difficult to terminate a marriage? They don’t want to be the man that puts the union asunder. So is it the same in the priesthood? Is that why its not easy to 'defrock' a priest? Well, let me go do some digging..or if you know pls tell me]
I have noticed an inclusion of a prayer for Priests this last 2 months in Masses. I have no issues with that. But I also wished we added a prayer for people who have been abused. That they don’t lose their way forever. That they find renewed faith in their neighbors. That they find peace and redemption in God.
What would Jesus do?
I think he would have knelt before them and held them close and asked them to forgive. To let go. But in these cynical times, I don’t doubt that forgiveness will be gained with a lovely sum in claims too.
This post was inspired by the posts linked below. This post does not claim to represent the views and opinions of any other catholic faithful in this article except that of Ginger.
p.s. Seems my guess about the Cardinal's reasoning was spot on. He says that 'The good of the universal church needed to be considered in any defrocking'.