My heart is sickened tonight.
I’m sure that many of you have heard the news, but just yesterday The New York Times released a grotesquely revealing article about the sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal McCarrick.
I’m not going to get to specific on the allegations, but it was just a stab in the heart to hear that a man who is so high up in the Church has allegedly been living a life of recurrent abuse, some of which even towards minors. And the real twist of the knife is that, allegedly, some higher church officials were well aware of the abuse, and not only looked the other way, but elevated McCarrick in the ranks of the clergy — all the way up to Cardinal.
And believe me, the irony is not lost on me that I’m literally leaving on a Catholic pilgrimage – The El Camino de Santiago de Compestela – tomorrow. And when you’re reading this, I will be in Portugal at Fatima.
My heart is completely broken and heavy and I just feel utterly sick to my stomach.
I want to start out by saying that there is absolutely no excuse for what McCarrick allegedly did. None. And you won’t find me trying to offer any. Not today. Not ever. Sexual abuse is inexcusable.
This is the pinnacle problem that the Catholic Church faces.
I don’t have to tell you that the Catholic Church is the butt end of a myriad of jokes. And society at large does it no favors, and even goes the extra mile to vilify it, any chance it gets.
And it is allegations like this, that make those jokes and attacks feel warranted.
Yeah, look at this situation. The Church *deserves* to be vilified. How can Catholics, in good conscience, stay in a church that is so ripe with corruption?
And friends, that is a really hard question to answer.
But after a lot of prayer, I’ve come up with two things. And I can only answer for myself – obviously, I cannot speak for everyone.
Number One: The Eucharist. I stay because I believe in the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross, and His true presence in the bread and wine.
Secondly, and this is the biggie: The Church is run by humans. And we are a fallen people. We do not live in Heaven. We are here on earth, where we all fall prey to the enemy. Even people in positions of power. Even priests.
We are products of The Fall, and that plays out in different ways for everyone. For me. For you. We all have our transgressions. No one is immune.
To be clear – sexual abuse, particularly against minors – is in my opinion, one of the most heinous transgressions one can make. But it is not my job to judge. Only God’s.
And God has shown us time and time and time again in the bible that fallen people can be forgiven.
Every organization has issues. Leaders and people in positions of power are not exempt to the pitfalls of our fallen world.
Here’s the thing that really breaks my heart in all of this:
The good priests.
The men who have given their lives to serve the church: they give up their right to marry, and agree to live a life alone. They leave their families and go to an assigned parish, where they serve for a handful of years, only to be sent to a new parish to begin again: always transient and having to put down new roots every few years. They live a humble life, choosing to serve God and serve His church, taking upon them the stereotypes and judgement and jokes brought about by the few “bad apples” that have sadly spoiled the incredible and faith-filled bunch.
I have been blessed to have many wonderful priests in my life. All good, godly, brilliant and humble men. And it just makes me so sad to see their vocation being dragged through the dung by the media, by fellow Christians, by society at large.
There is no resolution here tonight. This is something that the Church is going to have to overcome and rectify.
There are a lot of unanswered questions, and angry people, and rightfully so.
What I do know is this:
God has been incredibly good to me. I have experienced His love and forgiveness and grace in such life changing ways that I simply have to choose to stand by my faith. I believe that the Church is truly a gift, given and instituted by Christ. A gift that I choose to receive in faith. But it is an institution that is run by broken and fallen people. People who have weaknesses and can fail to live up to the sacred responsibilities that they are privileged to have. But I also know that we all are products of the Fall, and works in progress. And as children of the Fall, we are going to have to work together to move forward after such heartbreaking events. Because our faith is worth fighting for. And I will choose God and choose my faith every time.
And after I finalize this post, I am going to add to my book of prayer intentions that I’m creating for my pilgrimage, a prayer for the Church. That She may survive this horrible situation. And that any lingering corruption be eradicated from the root. And that the victims receive the emotional and spiritual healing from the burden they have been carrying – so often in secret. I pray that we can work together to find solutions so that this never, ever, ever happens again.
See ya tomorrow morning on the Podcast!
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