Friday, April 9, 2010

Faith Exception

During my teenage years I was quite religious, I went to church every Sunday, served on committees, was involved with the larger UCC community on a regional level and I wanted to be a minister. I had an extensive collection of crosses that I would wear outside my shirts as an expression of my faith. Looking back on it now I probably should have been mocked or teased because of it; I mean that’s how kids are. But, I was not and neither were any of the other kids who openly expressed their faith. There was one exception: Lou. I am sure in Lou’s grandmother’s eyes he was the perfect example of the nice Catholic boy, he was smart and he was faithful. We hated him.

We did not hate Lou because he was faithful or smart we hated Lou because he was a jerk. Yes he was smart but man did he try to lord it over everyone else. Yes he was faithful but that too he tried to lord over us it was his Catholic way or the Devil’s way. But what we really gave Lou grief over was all the time he spent assisting the priests and volunteering at the friary. Why did we give Lou such a hard time about his service to his church leaders? We assumed he was servicing his church leaders. We were all working under the assumption that after he served them dinner he was dessert. I have no idea what happened to Lou but every time I read a news report about the Catholic churches Priest sex scandal I think of Lou and how we all made such a joke of Priests having sex with boys.

People have been discussing this issue for as long as I can remember. I was teenager in the 70’s and then it was just sort of wink wink nod nod kind of thing. Everybody knew it was happening but nobody was really willing to admit it was occurring. It was the 800 pound gorilla no one wanted to discuss but I know that all of my parents Catholic friends hoped and prayed it did not happen to their sons. After all how could their priest do such a thing?
The issue of Priests having sex has been the worst kept secret in history. The fact that so many of them had it with children is what makes it shocking and repulsive.

My immediate family is not Catholic but we have many extended members who are (we are Irish). My great aunt died a few years ago and she was the last Catholic family member we were close to. A few years before she died she made the decision to stop contributing to her local parish because she believed they were sheltering a child molester. When she died she did not have a mass and the priest the parish sent to lead the service at the funeral home was the one she was protesting. They sent the molester to bury my Great Aunt.

Over the past few weeks there has been a slow drip of bad news coming out about the Catholic Church and the way it handled its abuse by priest’s problem. The story seemed to have left the front pages for awhile but now it is back with a vengeance. This is a story that should never go away. Children and young people were abused and hurt, criminal acts occurred and the church’s leaders did nothing or worse they tried to protect the priests involved.

Lives were ruined and God’s representatives on earth were the ones that did it and their bosses turned the other way. Children were raped by the men their parents entrusted them to. These men they called Father, these men who comforted them in time of crisis and need, these men betrayed them in the worst possible way, they hurt their children. They destroyed the faith and hopes of the children that were the future of their church.

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