The Scandal in Pennsylvania

I never watch the news. Ever. It’s usually depressing, and rarely relevant to my life in the slightest. Friends, coworkers and parishioners are often quite shocked with just how out of touch I am with current events most of the time. It’s like I live in a cave.

It takes a lot to make me break this shell, but these last few weeks have broken it wide open. I find myself reading commentaries, articles and opinions, and I’m just not sure what to make of it all.

I’m disgusted. I’m angry and I’m hurt. I feel betrayed, I feel broken.

I converted to Catholicism after the abuse scandal first broke, so I came into the Church with all this mess still fresh, and as such, I never really trusted clergy in the way so many who grew up in the faith have. I have always seen them as regular people with all the faults regular people have. While I have always had a deep respect for those who give their lives to God, both clergy and religious, I have never thought of them as infallible.

This is different. This is not regular “I’m not a saint yet” kind of stuff, this is just evil stuff. It’s simply diabolical. I know we all sin, but the fact that the Church let such clear machinations of Satan to work in our midst leaves me utterly shocked. I’m not claiming to be perfect or even good myself, but this goes so very much further than all of that.

So. Much. Further.

All I could think of as I read report after report was, “What if this was one of my kids, one of the students in my classroom, my parish classes, or in our youth group?” But that very quickly was followed by the reality that it IS one of my kids, IS one of my students, IS one of my parishioners. We are one Church, and I love them all, even if they don’t happen to live in my town. They ARE my kids, and they have been hurt by someone like me. That hurts and insults me and my entire life more than I can ever express.

Look, I know the statistics. I know that child abuse is a rampant disease spreading through our world. I know that it’s worse in so many other occupations, and I know that it is far more common in my own occupation, teaching, than it is in Catholic ministry.

I don’t care. It should not exist here. It should not even be possible.

The rest of the world is what it is, but we are called to be a light to the world, and these horrific actions have dimmed that light. How this happened is beyond me.

I think it is hard for me to understand because of the trust I have in my own bishop. He is solid as a rock, and completely unyielding in following what is true. If I so much as taught one thing that wasn’t in line with the magisterium and he found out about it, I would certainly be chastised, and were I do do that, he should chastise┬áme. I know that if I showed even the slightest risk, that I would be removed. In my little corner of the Church, it is seriously “zero tolerance” for that kind of evil.

How can it be any other way? How could any part of the Church not practice what we preach? I’m not talking about being perfect, I leave that to Christ and His mother until Christ works that miracle in us, but this stuff is just so dark. It’s as if I found out that my kind, prayerful brother deacons are actually serial killers. It’s so very personal to me. I am struck senseless.

I know that Christ told us that the weeds will grow with the wheat, and that it will all be settled in the end. I’m still revolted.

I am not going to pretend like I have answers, as if I, who know nothing of such things, could possibly offer either consolation or plans of action. I know the Church will stand despite whatever waves crash into it from outside, or whatever rot is found inside, but that seems little consolation when I think of children, the children I have spent most of my life and ministry serving, have been hurt in such an egregious way. I have never been one to desire evil on another, but God’s eternal Justice is of great consolation to me now. I find myself oddly thinking of millstones.

Prayer is about all I can recommend.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us poor sinners.

2 thoughts on “The Scandal in Pennsylvania

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  1. Agreed. I’ve been ordained to the Diaconate SINCE this current round of news broke. The other night, my wife asked me, “How does all this make you feel?”

    Betrayed. Hurt.

    I’m with you, I’ve always known that religious and clergy are just people like you and me (hey – I’m clergy, and I know where many of my own faults are). But this is more than being “just people.”

    But now, as a new member of the clergy, I have another feeling as well.


    Not responsibility for the actions that led to this moment, but responsibility for being part of the solution, responsibility for redeeming the clergy (the Church!) in the eyes of the faithful.

    IMO, this is what each member of the clergy, from the brand-newest Deacon (me!) to the Priest or Bishop who’s been ordained for 50 years, 75 years, or even more owes to the faithful.

    1. You know, you are very right. Today, I was watching a video by Bishop Barron, and he called us to fight. Last night when I wrote this piece, I just let the anger and frustration that has been eating at me out a bit, but now, the morning after, I find my feelings changing rapidly.

      While I am still angry, hurt and betrayed, I am beginning to feel I must take personal responsibility. This is Christ’s Church, and I am His servant. We are called to amend this, to fill in this gaping wound with the love of Christ. I think this may actually be a turning point not just for me, but many of the faithful. We must be more focused on Christ than ever before, if this is not a call to renewal, then I don’t know what is.

      I’m not sure what this means, but I can tell you for certain, it means much change for me. I must see this as a new beginning, any other way of looking at it is too hard for me to bear. It’s time to stop letting the evils of the world into the Church, and time to let the blessings of Christ flow out it’s windows. I am just a humble deacon, so there is not much I can do about the first, but I can certainly do something about the second.

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