Well, Gentle Reader, I begin this ramble with only a vague idea of the end. ‘Heartsick’ is not enough to describe where my reading has taken me.
Growing up with total belief in my church I was sad when my grandfather scoffed by telling stories of priests with girl friends. Why bother with a church that vows celibacy and keeps women. (Isn’t that an ugly expression–keeps women.)
About 30 years ago I knew a young man contemplating the priesthood. We talked often as he sorted priorities. During one particularly intense conversation, he was crying with pain I did not yet understand. “I will be safe there”, he said. “I will be safe with who I am and I will find a partner.”
As a senior in her 60’s, a woman revealed her story of childhood abuse by a trusted family friend, a Catholic priest. Her first confidant was her sister, trusted, loved and a life-sharing friend. These sisters held hands and hearts through every chapter of their lives, except this one ugly secret. Today, they rarely see one another and speak only on the most general topics, avoiding any degree of trust. The abused sister betrayed the church by speaking out.
Five years ago, one of my grandson’s received the sacrament of Baptism in another country. After the sacrament, the priest and his female companion returned to the home they were renovating together.
Small incidents? Perhaps. Personal and significant only to a few? Maybe.
But they reveal a pattern of naiveté that partially explains my deep and compounding sadness as I continue this horrible search. My church, managed by a nominal celibate clergy, claiming omnipotence in matters of faith and morals, has systematically hidden sexual abuse of minors.
Richard Sipe writes for The National Catholic Reporter. On April 28, 2010, his article, Secret sex in the celibate system, gives an overview of the history of sexual violations from the year 315 through a 2001 document and up to the depth of the current scandal. Sipe reports wide-spread abuse of the mandated vow of celibacy and makes perfect sense as he leads the reader to understand why secrecy prevailed. His writing is available at http://ncronline.org
Know what, Gentle Reader? It is unbelievably tiring, this disassembling of a lifetime core. Yet, rebuilding requires the destruction of the damaged, the unafraid ripping of that infested core, the gouging away of oozing sores. Nothing less can forgive the sins.