This is my second attempt at writing a blog post today. My dear wife spared you from the first.
“You’re ranting, you know,” she said when I asked her to read an early draft.
“Yes,” I replied, “because the Pope and Bishop Barron said I should rant. They said I…we…the people of God…need to speak up about this whole mess!”
In point of fact, it was the second time today I found myself spewing about my holy Catholic church…and its sinful handling of the sex abuse crisis. Earlier this morning, I spewed among a group of unsuspecting men…my dear friends (at least I hope they still count me a friend) at our weekly scripture study.
Almost inevitably, it points to a more serious disorder—a dis-ease that needs tending to in my heart and spirit.
I notice that I find myself spewing a LOT lately. As I expose this negative energy to the light, I realize it’s based at least in part on a feeling of helplessness – the recognition that, on a practical level, there’s almost nothing I can do to heal wounds in the church I love, or to offer comfort to those affected by abuse.
But the ache runs deeper, too.
Reading Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s recent diatribe helped crystallize this notion for me. I know nothing about the state of the Archbishop’s soul. But in my estimation, his public statement earlier this week betrayed an extraordinary level of affection for politics and power-brokering. (Which makes it sad, but unsurprising, to learn that the good Archbishop has feet of clay: He is now walking-back key elements of his incendiary accusations.)
Here’s the thing: I used to be able to give most Archbishops the benefit of the doubt. Vigano’s words made me recognize that in all likelihood, my trust has been misplaced. This man clearly abuses his power. So I am forced to wonder: How many among his confreres in Vatican circles do the same?
As I wonder, I inevitably find myself spewing at the hierarchy. Soon enough, I start shaking my fist: “Dear Cardinals and Bishops and Archbishops, do you understand how much damage has been done to the church? Do you realize how you have frittered away much of your authority?”
This time, though, something a bit different happened. In the midst of my latest rant, my wife offered up a link to the single-best piece of writing I’ve seen to date on the subject. It’s written, notably, by a priest—one who’s wise beyond his years, and recognizes that “more words [of advice] from yet another priest verge on the scandalous.”
If your hearts, like mine, have been roiled in recent weeks…then I urge you to give this article due attention. You won’t find in it any knee-jerk solutions. You will find the voices of thoughtful lay people. You will find ideas that may challenge your notion of “church.”
Most importantly, you will find a call to action…encouraging us, as the people of God, to begin the hard slog of changing a culture that has persisted in our church for hundreds of years.
You may even find, as I did, that it is time—past time—for us to speak up. Preferably, without spewing.
And as we speak, let us always call to mind the wise words contained in Psalm 46:
God is for us a refuge and strength,
An ever-present help in time of distress:
So we shall not fear though the earth should rock,
Though the mountains quake to the heart of the sea;
Even though its waters rage and foam,
Even though the mountains be shaken by its tumult.
The Lord of hosts is with us:
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come and behold the works of the Lord,
The awesome deeds God has done on the earth.
God puts an end to wars over all the earth;
Breaking bows, snapping spears, and buring shields with fire:
“Be still, and know that I am God,
Exalted over nations, exalted over earth!”
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.