Life brings us things we do not ask for. These are difficult events that test us. The events can often be broken down into two buckets. Bucket one has the things we don’t want, yet know will happen. The obvious one here is death, especially the death of a parent or grandparent. Bucket two has the things we don’t want, and didn’t expect to happen. This is what victims at the hands of abusers inside the church have experienced. It has left millions of Catholics across the world who were not abused, but now understand the sins of their leaders, with a tough task. How do they return, and respect a church that has failed?
To make something clear, this story is not about the real victims of sex abuse at the hands of the clergy. The members of the church who committed their sins will face legal consequences on earth, and only God will decide their punishment in death. The victims experienced something entirely gut wrenching. For those of you who are religious, you often turn to your God or church when life presents you with a trying event, whether expected or unexpected. Imagine something happening to you this painful, and not even being able to turn to God or your church for help, because it was your church that committed the crime against you. It’s an unbelievably difficult feeling to grasp that hurts one’s heart. Sins committed against the most vulnerable are especially hard to discuss, and these victims deserve our never-ending love, prayers, help and support.
The purpose of this piece is to speak on the new wave of allegations that has come out in recent months. This has again unraveled within the church. Let’s focus on the church, and what churchgoers can do moving forward.
If you are like me, you are pissed off at your church, and that’s being polite. Church is a part of life that is supposed to be there for you no matter what, and will always welcome you back. It’s supposed to be a role model, support system, and community. There is only supposed to be good that comes from one’s church. Catholics have clearly not experienced this version of their church in recent years.
I was personally able to ease my frustration. There are speeches, presentations, and homilies we hear throughout our lives. Those that leave the most impact are not based on what was specifically said, but how it makes you feel. Cardinal Dolan, here in the New York City Archdiocese, has not been shy in commenting about the scandal. He has come out in front of the sins, acknowledges the pain, and seeks remorse for his church. He’s instructed priests in the local churches to express the same. This has brought the conversation into the mass.
I’ve been fortunate enough to hear some of these homilies through the past couple of months, and it has helped heal my frustration in the process, but nothing like the most recent one. The priest resented true contrition. It wasn’t what our priest said but instead how he said it, and the way it made me feel. One could feel his remorse, and his sorrow. One could feel how hurt he was by the church he committed his life to. One could tell how ashamed he was. He showed contrition at the head of the church from the altar today in front of the churchgoers.
It made me think. My church has failed in many ways. It has members inside of it that committed egregious sins, and did repulsive acts against the most vulnerable. My church leadership failed in the process.
I have failed in many ways, too. I am a sinner, and while I have not committed sins in concert with what this piece references, I, like everyone have sinned. My church, through the intercession of God has welcomed me back. My church asks for forgiveness. Forgiveness is hard, but when someone is showing contrition, trying to make things right and being remorseful, we have the ability to forgive, the same way God forgives us.
There are many things I still expect my church to do, and much more I expect my church to fix. Everyone expresses their anger and remorse differently. We all go down our own individual paths. I felt it was relevant to share my personal path and progress towards forgiveness. My church has erred, but they are trying to make things right. I will entertain that, because after all, who am I to judge, being a sinner myself?