The Catholic community was rocked last week by greater numbers and more details into the lingering scandals surrounding the Pennsylvania area over 70 years. And the people are (rightly so) angry, hurt, and demanding change, explanation, and most importantly, condemnation of the actions of those who covered up the abuse, thus allowing it to continue.
The Catholic Church is one of the most prominent organized religions of the modern world. Unlike other Christian denominations, we have clear leadership and a clear name. There are many churches that fall under the umbrella of Methodist or Baptist, but they don't have a clear association and organization of leaders that the Catholic faith does.
Why is this important to note? Because the Catholic Church is not the only organization that has predators using it as a cover; it is just the only faith organization of its kind that has leadership like this, answerable to only a few, which makes it easier to lump the entire Church together when the acts of a some evil individuals rock the world.
But I am not Catholic for the bishops. Nor am I Catholic because of the clergy. I am certainly not Catholic because it is ran by a bunch of men.
I am Catholic because I believe in the seven sacraments and want to receive the grace they offer me. I am Catholic because I believe in the True Presence of the Eucharist; not just a symbol but the literal Body and Blood of Christ, offered for the sins of all. I am Catholic because I love the tradition, the space for memorized meditative prayer and the space for spontaneous prayer from the heart. I am Catholic because I am part of the Body of Christ; I am Catholic because I believe in the living, breathing Church.
The Church is not the men who joined seeking access to young, impressionable individuals. We've come a long way scientifically and psychologically in the last twenty to thirty years and know that pedophiles are not the stranger-danger men in trench-coats. They are family friends, people parents love and trust. They are smart, charismatic individuals looking for access to children by gaining the child and their family's respect and trust. They seek their victims not because of a vow of chastity (there are many, many married individuals who are also predators), not because of a same-sex attraction (more often than not, those evil people would not identify as gay but still prey on children of the same sex), and they did not start working for their organization with good intentions. They were never part of the living Church.
I am Catholic because I love the Communion of Saints and the inspiration and support they offer me in my faith. I am Catholic because I find beauty in the celebration of the Mass; it feeds me spiritually in a way that other denominations do not. I am Catholic because it was Peter, the Rock, on whom Christ built His Church.
The corrupt, sinful people who hurt innocents and those who helped by not putting a stop to it are not our Church. It is time for us to remember why we have chosen our faith and not allow the Evil One and his servants steal the Church, the Sacraments, and our faith from us. Remain firm in your faith and remember, we, the greater community that pursues God daily in our loves, are the Church.
Please join in me keeping the innocents, their families, and all others affected by these heinous crimes in our prayers in the coming months.