Thursday, April 1, 2010

Abuse within the Catholic Church

If ever there was a challenge to test the Catholic Faith, I believe it would be now. Catholicism may be the first religion to face scrutiny for its years of accepting, and even ignoring, abuses perpetrated by hierarchy in her church that was blindly followed and defended, without true justice for victims. I am fairly certain it will not be the last.

Sexual predators are good at what they do, and they seek opportunity that won’t easily be thwarted. Positions of trust and authority are perfect for them; these are found readily in many religions. As if that weren’t enough, victims for their heinous acts are plentiful in every religion and church that was ever built. “Mothers weep for your children, and your children’s children.”

I do not excuse what has taken place in my Church. I know too well the effects of abuse (though I was never molested by a priest). I feel the devastating heartbreak when perpetrators are never brought to justice. “Justice is mine,” says the Lord. I cling to my Savior, knowing that as much as He died for my sins, He also died for each and every other sin that has ever been committed, even the sins of sick buggers like verbal manipulators, many who take their mental abuse one step further by molesting children and vulnerable adults.

That’s when I know I need to step back. Hatred is as close to my heart as it can ever get. There is no excuse for violating another human being so wickedly. Any refusal of the Church to provide human justice for victims often causes even more injury. Victims end up in a vortex that makes them question their belief in their church as a whole. And then I remember that faith is about belief in Jesus and what He taught.

I realize that faith must be separated from institutions and their politics. Jesus warned many times of the dangers of following people blindly and without reason. His statements weren’t permission to go it alone, they were warnings that danger lurks, even in the most unsuspecting places.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is as valid today as it was when Jesus walked the earth. Believing in the Catholic Faith is not the same thing as blindly following the Catholic Church. As true believers, we must separate our faith from the institution, in so far as the institution makes its human errors. We are called to discern right from wrong. It is not accurate therefore, to judge the merits of the Catholicism based on the infiltration of it by evil men who used it for their own abominable purposes. Doing so minimizes personal power, allowing evil individuals to destroy what we hold so dear.