One angry Catholic (really angry…) – Part 2

CRM_broken

So AGMA joined the Catholic Church in 1999. 

And please don’t use the term “convert”. 

I didn’t convert to anything.  I was already a Christian who made the decision to express her faith through the Catholic tradition.

Not being a cradle Catholic, I:

  1. don’t live with the ‘guilt’.  Any of it.
  2. don’t buy in to the infallibility thing.  
  3. don’t always abstain from eating meat on Friday during Lent.
  4. don’t think I really have to go to church on “Holy Days of Obligation”.
  5. don’t know or say the Rosary.
  6. don’t genuflect before I sit in the pews on Sunday.
  7. And. And. And.

But the priests in my church are amazing men with Spirit filled hearts and prophetic voices who ‘get it’.  They get that an authentic relationship with the Living God doesn’t depend on any of this man-created, extraneous ‘stuff’.  

That some of the ‘stuff’ can enhance a faith journey is without a doubt.  As long as it doesn’t start becoming an end rather than a means.

The Old Testament prophet Samuel had it right when he said, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart…” (1 Samuel 16:7)

And oh boy, were/are there a whole lot of Catholic priests and Church officials who had all the right outward appearances, but whose hearts were/are totally black.

Evil might be a better word.

The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report released on August 14th is incredibly painful to read.  

AGMA started to read the 1300+ page report but got so upset that I had to stop.

I thought the 2002 Boston revelations were one offs, and that these perps were rogue priests.  And the inaction of the Boston Archdiocese in removing the offenders from their positions and having them prosecuted was a ‘Boston problem’. 

Yeah, and Rudy Guilianai is a honest lawyer…

While reading that small portion of the report, I just kept asking “How?”

So many hows.

How could these supposed men of God in positions of power do these heinous things to children?

How could these priests be so evil as to collude with one another in order victimize the same children over and over?

How could the Church hierarchy enable these priests to continue abusing children by ‘reassigning’ them?  Over and over.  And not having them prosecuted.

How could those enablers be elevated in the Church hierarchy after covering up these crimes against the most vulnerable?

How many children in other states/worldwide were/are victimized by predator priests to this day?

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

AGMA doesn’t think this is just a ‘Pennsylvania problem’ anymore.

And I’m one angry Catholic.

With so many people coming forward calling for similar investigations in their own states, AGMA believes this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Catholic faithful are confused and overwhelmed.  Many are asking, “We don’t know what to say to people.  How do we defend the Church?”  

My answer is, “There is absolutely no defense.”

Apologies have been issued from all levels of the Church.  But at this point, the apologies ring hollow.  There have been apologies, and some compensation to the victims in the past, but little else.

The new guidelines for handling abuse allegations issued by the USA Church in 2002 following the Boston revelations appear to be working according the the PA report.

Now what about the other 70 million Catholics in the rest of the world?

This scandal could bring down the Catholic Church.  Or at least bankrupt it if every victim, worldwide, sued for damages.  And people stopped donating money as a form of protest.  Or just stopped going to church.

The Church needs to do something seismic.  The leaders need to turn the Church inside out in penance and humble themselves before the victims who’s lives have been destroyed .

Maybe it’s time for a Vatican III.

Vatican II was an massive shift in how the Church operated.

Vatican III should be a massive shift in how the Church is organized.

I’m not a Catholic Church expert, but I know that ‘business as usual’ can’t be the modis operandi as the Church moves forward.

Accountability for the enablers, allowing married/female priests, appointing lay persons to positions of authority & leadership, reorganizing the Church at all levels up to the College of Cardinals… 

It all needs to happen.   And happen sooner rather than later.

But AGMA isn’t holding her breath.

POST SCRIPT:  When I wrote all of the above last week, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t go back to my church no matter how wonderful the priests are.  Which they are.

I just couldn’t get past the lies, secrets and cover-ups of the leadership.

However, something changed during the week for AGMA.

I found out that our wonderful senior pastor is being scapegoated by the right wing, conservative faction of the Church.

WTF??

In response to his appointment to a Sexual Abuse Survivors counseling team by our Archishop, the alt righters are going ballistic.  They have started a petition to have my priest removed.  They claim that because he’s the priest of a “gay-friendly” church now,  he is somehow responsible for the atrocities committed against children in the late 20th century.

Again, WTF? 

I bet they all have MAGA hats stashed in their closets.

So I will respond to this attack on one of the most Godly and holy individuals I have ever know in typical AGMA fashion…. 

I’m going to thumb my nose (figuratively…maybe) at those who seek to distort the image of our all loving God.  And, in defiance of their hate, continue to attend my church in support of our pastors.

And if the day comes that either one of our priests gets the boot because of this deplorable mob of Pharisees, AGMA will be a gone girl and will never set foot in another Catholic Church.

Ever.

I’ve always thought it would be interesting to check out the Quakers. 

AGMA always liked their oats.

23 thoughts on “One angry Catholic (really angry…) – Part 2

  1. Loved your last line. 😆 But on a more serious note, there is a lot to like about the Quakers. Unitarians are pretty cool too. Here’s my story: I was brought up Catholic and went to catholic school from first grade all the way thru college. My first job was as a social worker for abused and neglected children in a Catholic group home. It soon became apparent to me that the parents of these children were once abused and neglected kids themselves. One Sunday, I heard the priest talk about the evils of birth control. I walked out in the middle of his sermon and never went back.

    You are so right about the need for major changes. Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 2 people

    • Powerful stuff Shelley! A friend of mine told me a very similar story. A friend of hers was a devote Catholic and was assigned by a Bishop to counsel priest sex abuse survivors. It very quickly became apparent to her that the Bishop was only interested in reducing any monetary loss and bad press to the Church, and could give a damn about the survivors. She left the church and never came back.

      In my 9 years with the Catholic Church, I’ve realized that I’m a cafeteria Catholic. I pick out the stuff I like, and pass over the stuff that I think is BS and not of God. If I left my wonderful church, I know I would be very quickly kicked out of any other Catholic Church. Which would be okay because I think I would pass over most of what’s offered!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I never understood why my mother, who was an extremely good woman, had such antagonism towards the Catholic Church, when she not only grew up Catholic but also raised her kids Catholic. When I was a young married woman, I can remember her alluding to some distasteful event she had with a priest when she was, herself, about to be married and went for the required pastoral counseling. With the recent newsworthy allegations, I think I now understand what probably happened – or what that priest tried to make happen. Alas, my mother is no longer around for me to ask about it, and it’s all water under the bridge anyway.

    BTW, even though I consider myself a lapsed Catholic, I still dip my fingers into the holy water and make the sign of the cross upon entering a church of any faith, and I still genuflect before entering a pew. It’s so well ingrained that I can’t shake the feeling something horrible would happen if I didn’t, and I doubt other church goers would enjoy seeing Cordelia’s Mom burst into flame spontaneously.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I totally understand about the holy water and genuflecting… Many of the cradle Catholics I know are much the same – it’s just part of their DNA! And no, bursting into flames would not be a good thing…

      Coming from other faith backgrounds, I feel like options are available to me if I leave the Catholic Church. Many I know feel they have no other option. The church is the Catholic Church and there is not place else to go. They are bewildered and confused and trying to figure out a way to reconcile everything. It is a no win proposition because there is no reconciling it.

      So is holy water blessed by a pedofile priest still holy water? I wonder how that works…

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      • Never thought of that! I do know, however, that when I recently told my next-door neighbor, the Lutheran Pastor, that I was born Catholic, he gave me a really strange look. He then took his family and went on vacation and I haven’t seen them much since. I comfort myself that it is, in fact, summer, and people do, in fact, take summer vacations. I really like that family …

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you on this- similar journey here. I’m a bit nonplussed how you thought this was just a Philly problem though, when it’s been happening all over the world. It’s mind boggling to me that law enforcement hasn’t stepped in and wrested the entire thing away from the church – talk about fox and henhouse when left to the church. Im very fond of local Cistercian monks but have a hard time reconciling their general loveliness with the fact they agreed to take in a pedophile priest who was “put on leave” from his parish. He goes to summer camp and the abused kids get what exactly? A ruined life?

    Liked by 1 person

    • No…I thought it was just a Boston “problem” back in 2002. Stupid me! Did you see the movie Spotlight? Excellent if not deeply disturbing. Yes…we have some Cistercian monks here too who are lovely. You know, it seems like loyalty to the Church (with a big C) is more important than the church, the body of Christ and that’s never good for seeking justice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh sorry I misunderstood that – yes initially it seemed like it was just a few rotten apples. Spotlight was excellent, thank god for investigative journalists. I totally agree about the Church dominating the church.
        Btw I meant to say how much I enjoy your blog, follow on Feedly and always look forward to reading it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. AGMA, Thanks for Part 2 in this.

    We’ve recently moved and I’ve not yet found a new church to belong to. The comment about being a Cafeteria Catholic is very much me. Being brought up Catholic, I find comfort in the rituals…yes, even the genuflecting when entering a pew. But, I don’t agree with many of the teachings. I’m also childless by choice, so a major sinner in the Catholic Church’s eyes for sure. I did have a Catholic marriage ceremony (left out the obey line though – had a great priest then) and always said, if God wanted that 3% window of birth control failure, I would raise that child in the Catholic faith. My personal belief system; I don’t judge other’s childless-by-choice approaches. I’ve now said I might be open to explore other churches, Methodist, Episcopal. Maybe I should add Quaker!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We could both start eating lots of oats! But seriously, there are so many wonderful, spiritual individuals in all of these denominations… I have experienced that first hand. And there are some not so wonderful people as well (but most not as evil as those pedophile priest and those who covered up for them…). It’s just the nature of being human. Light and dark. Richard Rohr, a Jesuit priest, writes a lot about the duality in religion and people and societies – fascinating and inspired. I think you would enjoy his stuff! He talks about organized religion as serving a purpose early on as a container in which to grow your spirituality, but at some point you should outgrow the container. Great insight!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Naturally because I’m behind on reading posts right now, and despite that fact that each of these were clearly marked “Part 1” and “Part 2,” I found a way to read them out of order! Which… actually worked, though I don’t recommend it for others.

    Your story is riveting, AGMA. In spite of all the horrible problems within the faith, I’ve always admired the Catholic church (I’m Jewish). Most of my college friends were Catholic (we could never figure out why since it was a public school), and from those bonds (not to mention all the weddings I had to both attend and be a part of!), I felt a kind of kinship with Catholics in general and perhaps the church too at least in the abstract. Catholics tend to be learned, thoughtful, studious, well-read, and intellectual; they’re kind and generous, and they offer all opportunities to give to charities that one can usually depend on being honest and (usually) well managed. And, because I love pageantry whether it’s royalty or the Vatican kind, I’ve always enjoyed watching the big events in Rome and elsewhere when a pope goes on the road.

    But then… there’s this awful legacy of abuse, and how can any of us, Catholic or not, ignore it? I’ve come to really admire and respect this pope for his moderated views on doctrine, sexuality, and other subjects. But he’s so far not stepped up at all to the urgency of this crisis. I pray he does, for your sake and all others in the faith. Three cheers to you for supporting your local priests. I hope they can survive the alt-right damage being done. – Marty

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Marty for your thoughtful, insightful comment! And like you, I’m totally disappointed in Pope Francis’ response to this ‘legacy of abuse” as you so aptly put it. To the point that when I hear him doing some superficial thing like meeting with survivors in Ireland (hand picked of course…), I’m angry with him that his response is so very weak and appears to be only for show. I was yelling at him as I listened to him talk on the radio, and I was not yelling nice things. It appears, in the end, he is a member of the “old boys club” just like all the rest of them. Yeah – I’ll be kicked out soon…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My relationship with organized religion has a kind of a checkered past. I was raised in what they call here in Texas an “unchurched” family. My dad was raised as a Baptist and felt that had been forced down his throat (his words.) He went to church twice on Sundays and once again on Wednesday evenings. After he left home, he never set foot in church again except for weddings and funerals. Not even his own, since he was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea. My mom went to whatever was available near her home when she was a child. Methodist, Lutheran, whatever. Even Aimee Semple McPherson’s Foursquare Church at one point, according to my mother. She basically went for the music.

    When my older brother and I were kids we were sent to Sunday school at a local Lutheran church that was within walking distance. My dad stayed home and read the paper and my mom had a second cup of coffee. My religious education lasted for about a year. I still have the pin commemorating it. When I was part of a YWCA club in high school, I would routinely be nominated for chaplain because that gave everyone a good laugh when I would have to decline.

    When we moved from California to Texas, I decided to give religion another try and we started attending a Lutheran church that seemed open, warm and inviting to everyone. The pastor was a gifted speaker and even did an entire sermon, in character, as Forrest Gump—with no notes. It was riveting. But, as always, things like women’s right to abortion and whether gay people should be allowed to be pastors burst the pleasant bubble. When our bishop wrote a letter to the Episcopal church reprimanding them for approving gay pastors, that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. We quit going. Our pastor eventually phoned me and we had a long discussion about it. I just told him that the bishop’s letter was being done in my name and I couldn’t, in good conscience, let that happen. So I’m back to being a heathen again. Oh, well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing your story. Fascinating… I think that might be many other’s story as well. In the end, as is printed on our church’s Gay Pride weekend t-shirts, they will know we are Christians by our LOVE. I’d much rather err on the side of loving somebody too much than judging them based on human criteria.

      I’ll be honest with you…the two Sundays I skipped church were nice. Got to sleep in. Went to breakfast with Hubs. But I feel a pull to communal worship – I always have. And although my priests are incredible, I’m not sure I can abide too much longer being in association with an larger organization that is unwilling to punish abusers and enablers, and make the kind of radical changes that are needed to change the culture that has tolerated this evil. It really should be a no brainer, but on the other hand, I can’t leave my pastors right now – the alt right crazies need to know that there are those of us who actually love radically like Christ told us to do. First tRump, now this… I’m tired!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Rocky times we live in AGMA. It must be very painful and frustrating for Catholics to experience all this upheaval and to have all these revelations continue to come out of the woodwork. It seems like the institutions of this world are being rocked to their foundations, as the sands we built a lot of them on are shifting. My heart goes out to those who put their faith into the church only to find that at it’s core, it’s just another power structure built by men, where exploitation and abuse are not just tolerated, but protected, aided and abetted…once again, by men. I know there are some special woes reserved for those who are charged with tending God’s sheep and end up setting them astray instead. My husband is one who was raised in Catholic Church who has disdain for religion in general after seeing a friend who was an alter boy and his family publicly shamed when the boy claimed he was abused by the local priest. So it has been going on for a long long time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow! Powerful words Ilona! And the truth rings out clear in them. The house built on sand – a perfect description. And it is earth shattering for those who think the Church was built on a rock. Because I’ve been a ‘spiritual gypsy’, I know I have other options should I decide to leave. Others have been so indoctrinated that they feel as if there are no options. And that is terribly sad and will only enable the power structure to keep on keeping on. I have been bitterly disappointed in reading our local Catholic publications as to how little space has been allocated to this scandal. It’s like they are saying, “Nothing to see here.” Disgusting.

      You are sooooo right. Rocky times all around us!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. There’s an old Peanuts strip which has a cynical Lucy telling Charlie Brown that she loves mankind, “it’s people I can’t stand.” It’s sort of like that with the Catholic Church. I converted at about the same time as you did but have since found my lovely, diminutive Irish priest—who told me a joke during my first confession—isn’t representative of the more traditional church. So I love the Catholic Church, it’s just some of the people I can’t stand. I’m clinging to the hope Pope Francis is working to remove the bad guys.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is my fundamental problem…if it wasn’t for MY church, I probably wouldn’t be going to a Catholic Church. If they shut down my church tomorrow, I would move to another denomination – I’m sure of it. That combined with the hierarchy and clericalism in the CC is really giving me pause and making me think that it’s time to move on. I don’t think Francis is going to be able to single handedly fix what ails the Church. Still pondering my spiritual future… Thanks so much for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, one of my best friends is gay and Catholic. I’m still trying to figure that one out. My husband’s family is Mormon, and he is still so angry with his eldest brother for having molested 2 of his 3 children, according to him and them (as adults) that he has threatened not to attend our daughter’s wedding if said brother is invited. Mostly he’s angry at said brother performing the wedding ceremony (2nd one for her, go figure that, given core Mormon beliefs) for favorite/eldest niece (daughter of deceased brother whose widow is now on her 3rd marriage – so maybe that explains her daughter’s 2nd being OK). My spouse’s thought is that his brother is SO hypocritical for having received this big religious honor. BTW I’m Jewish. Anyway, after all this meandering, I’m just here to say that there is good and evil in all religions, including their leaders, no matter who they are or how they are chosen. They and we are all just human beings, after all. I was moved to make this comment after reading the comments of your erudite and reasonable followers.

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    • Eek… What a sad story about your husband’s brother. And sad for his children who have been forever damaged by one of the two people they should trust most in this world. What did eldest brother’s wife say when the molestation came into the light? And honestly, I wouldn’t go to the wedding either… (I’m not being helpful am I?)

      So the Church has had 6 months to address these systemic abuse issues and they have done nothing but form a “committee”. I’m so sick about it… I was hoping for so much more from Pope Francis after the Bishops meeting in Rome last month. I’m think that I really probably do need to move on… You are right – there are good and evil in most faith traditions, and not one is perfect. But knowing what I know about how many young people’s lives were destroyed and how basically nobody involved in any of the cover-ups is having any action taken against them, I find it impossible to believe anything the Catholic Church say has any legitimacy at all. And I sure as heck don’t want to give them any of my $$.

      And my followers are great aren’t they? That includes you… They are reasonable and erudite (I had to look that word up!). Of course, now I have nearly 5000 followers, but I’m pretty sure that no more than 30 actually read my posts!

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