One angry Catholic (really angry…) – Part 2

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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.

One angry Catholic – Part 1

 

 

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Picture from an article by Jim Lewis dated August 19, 2018 in the publication Reading Eagle

The Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s 1300+ page report released last week on the the sexual abuse of 1000 minors by 300 predator Catholic priests over 7 decades has sent seismic waves through the Catholic Church.

AGMA should know.  I’m a Catholic. 

Or at least I was.

A regular at the 8:30 AM Sunday Mass, I skipped church the weekend and went to breakfast with Hubs.  I don’t know if  I can go back. 

And AGMA goes to probably the most un-Catholic Catholic Church possible.  We have a welcoming and diverse church with a large GLBTQ membership.  We have people of all colors & nationalities from all over the city.  Our wonderful priests preach the true gospel of Christ – one of love, forgiveness, welcome, and unity with our brothers and sisters of other faiths and in other lands.

Probably no surprise to anyone that AGMA goes to that kind of church.

I’m not a cradle Catholic.  That’s my fatal flaw.

Or maybe my salvation.

AGMA was raised Lutheran.  Which honestly is really close to Catholicism although I know both sides would vehemently disagree.

AGMA was disillusioned with the church when I saw my dad attend every Sunday, but then be a mysoginistic, hateful bigot the rest of the week.  He would loved the MAGA crowd!

But looking back, it really wasn’t the church’s fault that my dad was a jerk.

After AGMA went away to college, I didn’t attend church again for 17 years.  It’s not that I didn’t believe in God in those ensuing 17 years – it was just that felt that I didn’t need to go to church to have an authentic faith.   Plus I liked sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

Yeah she did!

When my sons were young, AGMA decided it was time to haul their rears into church for some God learnin’.  Not a big fan of the Lutheran Church, I wanted my kids to experience a looser, more open form of Christian worship.  We ended up attending a Disciples of Christ church and it was great.

Hubs in the meantime, wasn’t interested.  A self proclaimed agnostic, he was now the one sleeping in on Sunday mornings.  My kids were jealous.

In 1992, a friend sponsored me on a retreat called The Walk to Emmaus.  I will be forever grateful to her for that.

Administered by the Methodist Church, it’s an non-demonimational 3 day Christian retreat that’s intended to deepen a person’s walk with the Triune God.   It’s a Protestant off-shoot of Cursillo which is a Catholic 3 day intensive spiritual retreat that originated in Spain in 1944 

Every person on a Walk to Emmaus responds differently to the invitation God offers to go deeper with their Christian spirituality.

It rocked AGMA’s world.

And I’ve never been the same since.  In a good way.

To make a very, way too long, story short, my Walk started me on a life spiritual journey that I could have never imagined.

AGMA went from the Disciples of Christ Church to a Christ of Christ church to an Assemblies of God church.  Some folks spoke in tongues in the AoG church.  Just like in the New Testament.  Cool!

God was expanding my spiritual world and opening me up to the many ways that exist to experience a life in Christ.

But while I was going to the Assemblies of God church, I felt a pull towards the Catholic Church.  

Huh?  I know – interesting dichotomy…

AGMA liked that, unlike other denominations, the Catholic Church seemed to be a huge umbrella that all kinds of Christians fit underneath.  Somehow it managed to hold the tension between conservative Catholic beliefs, progressive Catholic beliefs and everything in between. 

A strong sense of social justice is one of the pillars of the Catholic Church.  I liked that.  In modern times, the Church has been leader in social justice movements and ministries.  

And AGMA loved the idea of the Saints!  Most were ordinary, flawed (some very flawed) individuals – both men and women – who allowed God to change their lives, and went on to do amazing things.

The writings of people like Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, Dorthy Day, Henry Nouwen opened me up to a new understanding of Christianity expressed through the Catholic tradition. 

The Catholic mystics.  Amazing.  People like Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Brother Lawrence and many others, both ancient and modern, who demonstrated that a life of contemplation and prayer can lead to direct encounters with the Divine.

I made some retreats to monasteries and convents, and came in contact with some of the most amazing people I’d ever met.  Far from being ‘holier than thou’ retreatants from the secular world, they were funny, engaging, involved and some of the most intelligent people AGMA has ever come across.  

The Nuns on a Bus rock!

I also acknowledged the ‘dark side’ of the Catholic Church.  The violent past – The Crusades being just one example.  The opulent wealth that has been a corrupting influence.  The amoral selling of indulgences that lead Martin Luther to post the “95 Theses”. The whispers of sex scandals. The mysoginistic nature of priesthood and, yes, of the entire Church.  The secretive hierarchy of the Church that is controlled by older white men obsessed with in staying in power.

Given the political nature of the Church hierarchy it’s a bit of a miracle that somebody like Francis got elected Pope.  He’s the un-pope Pope.  Sort of.  We’ll see…

But in truth, every church has it’s dark side.  No church or denomination is perfect.  

With age & wisdom comes the realization that every coin has a light and a dark side.  

So I became a member of the Catholic Church in 1999.

I’m surprised I’ve lasted nearly 10 years.  It’s kind of a miracle I haven’t been kicked out.

Yet.

But AGMA thinks I may be leaving before I’m served my walking papers.

(to be continued…)