I am a cradle Catholic and I am currently active in a vibrant parish in Northern Kentucky. I love my church family and our pastor, but this time, that is not enough to assuage my deep sadness and pain at this newest revelation of the evil that lurks in my church. I have been praying and trying to process what this all means for me and the practice of my faith.
This latest round of outrage started with yet another revelation of the predatory sexual behavior of over 1,000 Roman Catholic priests, 300 victims over a period of 70 years, and the inevitable cover-up, which amounts to collusion. [Read the Grand Jury report out of Pennsylvania released on Tuesday August 14th.] I feel that anyone with the ability to think critically will come to the only intelligent conclusion possible, that this is not an isolated problem but a poison rooted in the hierarchy of the Patriarchal system that is the Roman Catholic Church. And this system has been in place since the rule of Constantine [AD 306-337], when the Church of Rome became a political institution ruled not by consensus but by a murder of red crows, the College of Cardinals, and their leader the Pope.
I do dearly love Pope Francis, but he is part of this institution and as such his responses are very disheartening for me. [click here to read more]. His call for the church to repent and to forgive the offenders is outrageous and does not speak of justice for the victims at all. He has proven that he is like all the men in this church, all about keeping this structure from changing or ever acknowledging that the whole system is faulty. This behavior is not new; it has been going on for centuries, throughout the world, wherever there are RC Priests and Bishops. There is no way this could be otherwise, knowing the history of this kind of abuse and cover-up, protection and pay-offs.
I agree with Father Richard Rohr, OFM [click here to read his statement on the issue] who feels that part of the problem is the demand of celibacy forced on the priestly cast, not as a gift from the spirit as St. Paul refers to his own charism, but a mandate to be obeyed. I believe as he does, that this unnatural requirement for service to the church attracts men who are hiding from their sexuality or sexual dysfunctions. But I also believe that many of these priests are sexual predators, like any rapist or abusive man, but they just happen to be Catholic priests. And to be clear I know there are male sexual predators in many organizations, (OSU,this year, Penn State in 2011, USA Gymnastic team doctor since 1996, and the Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein whose ongoing sexual misconduct went on for decades, before being outed in 2017) but the problem in the RCC is that they have a male dominated system which values power and control over justice for victims. They are set up to protect the offenders from justice, giving them a place to hide from public scrutiny, allowing them to continue their evil deeds for decades.
And most importantly I feel that the Roman Catholic Church will never self correct as long as they continue to be a world-wide organization that still discriminates against women. How can this be in the 21st century? Why are women still not allowed to serve this church as leaders, priests, bishops, cardinals, or even as Pope? Why is a woman’s main roll in this dysfunctional institution that of support persons for clergy or as breeders to add bodies to the pews? Why are there are no women in any roles in the Vatican that can make decisions effecting the whole organization? Why is a woman unworthy to perform the priestly functions of administering Anointing of the Sick, or forgiving the sins of a penitent? Why are there no women deacons allowed to officiate at weddings and baptisms? And lastly, the most scandalous thing of all, why is a woman not permitted to be a Christ bearer for the congregation at Mass each Sunday. Are her hands less holy? Can she not elevate the host and call upon the Risen Christ to transubstantiate this humble bread and wine into his real presence on earth the same as any male priest? Are we to believe that the hands of a man, who the day before fondled a child, can perform this miracle, but a woman whose hands hold and comfort others cannot? Does this make any sense at all? I believe that since Christ himself chose to bring forth salvation for us all via the womb of a woman, then women are most definitely worthy to be Christ bearers and able to perform this priestly function. I also believe that every one of us, male, female, straight or gay, however God created us, is worthy to bring Christ to the world via the sacrament of the Eucharist.
So based on the ongoing systemic discriminatory practices of the Catholic Church, and its innate inability to purge itself of the evil lurking within, I have chosen to withhold all monetary support that may become part of the problem. I would never knowingly support any institution, company, political party, charity or organization that has such an abysmal record with abuse of power, people – children and adults – and sexual discrimination. Especially one that leaves a trail of victims wherever they camp. Instead the money that I tithe monthly to my home parish will now go directly to the most deserving among us; to the poor via the Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Northern Kentucky, and to the DCCH – Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home Center for Children and Families which is a residential treatment and care center that struggles to meet the growing need of children and families devastated by the opioid epidemic in Northern Kentucky.
I will continue to feed my soul with my daily prayer time, reading spiritual works, praying the Rosary and meditating (when I can). And I will worship each Sunday where the Spirit calls me. I will continue to attend Mass at my home parish occasionally, but my real interest lies with a more feminine approach to my faith. I want to check out a local Episcopal Church with a woman Pastor and I also plan to attend the services, as available, presided by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests here in this area. What I do know is that I must act. I cannot be silent and sit in the pews pretending everything is the same, because for me, it is not. I am on a journey, yet I will always be Catholic. The only conclusion I can come to is my relationship to the RCC is like a bad marriage, and I have to let it go. I cannot allow myself to be part of this dysfunctional family any longer. I will always pray for the church that formed me, and keep all her children in my heart, but I just cannot live there anymore.
I am following up with a cover letter and a copy of this post to the pastor at my home parish, to our bishop and to Pope Francis in Vatican City.]