It is not fashionable today to be a fan of authority, let alone a central authority; however, I have found great comfort in knowing that there is a rock-solid place to which I can turn when I have questions, thoughts, comments and complaints. In fact, the biggest sign of my spiritual development was when I was able to say, "I don't understand but I will accept". Oddly enough, that came in my 12 Step program. I did not understand how those weirdly worded 12 Steps were going to help this vodka-swilling, cocaine-smoking, promiscuous, lazy, lying loser turn her life aroung. Still, it helped that I was thoroughly beat up and had nothing to lose. I said, "Whatever" and gave my assent, in faith, to a spiritual path that eventually lead me Home to Rome.
I have the sweetest priests to work with at my parish, all of whom think my particular 12 step program is the greatest thing since pockets, but it makes me grin when I hear them say with happy joy, "And those steps are so CATHOLIC!". Well, of course they are! Does not Catholic mean UNIVERSAL, and is not the Truth imprinted on the heart of every human at the moment of their very conception? Bill W and Dr Bob knew that the only 'cure' for what ailed them would be found in Truth....and I know that what ails me finds relief in the same. The difference is that today I know that Truth is not something, not subjective, does not need me to believe it or accept it in order to BE Truth...it is not a thing or a place...it is a Person, a Divine Person. it is Jesus Christ.
As authority collapses and the lines blur, chaos begins to reign. I saw it happening at my work on Friday. Friday morning, around 3am I got a call from the jail. A DA was being booked into custody....for rape. The story got uglier and uglier. This DA is the head of the sex crimes unit and the alleged victim is another DA. Luckily, it is not our agency's case because the perpetrator was arrested by the city agency. However, it is only a matter of time before it does affect me. As soon as the word hits the prisons, appeals will be filed on behalf of all the criminals put away by this DA's prosecution....and that means pulling old records....and that means me and my staff.
NO....this did not happen in this county or in San Joaquin...so just chill.
The point I am making is that the collapse of authority does not just affect those people directly involved. When the priest scandals hit The Church in the 1990's every Catholic was hurt by the actions of an estimated 4 percent of clergy world-wide. Priests who had never done anything even remotely scandalous were spit on in public. Catholics were told they were following a false leader and they were not really Christians. The repercussions were horrendous and today, when someone wants to try to PROVE that a doctrine or dogma that has been taught by The Church for 2 thousand years is false, they usually bring up the sex scandals...as though pedophilia is somehow linked to the Doctrine of Sacramental Economy, or the Immaculate Conception or The Eucharist.
Like Father John Corapi, I will defend my Faith but when someone decides to base their belief or disbelief in a doctrine on what some horrible people did under the guise of authority I simply dismiss them from the discussion. I no longer have time for shoddy thinking or lousy logic.
One time I tried. I pulled an article from the 1960's up about how child molesters could be cured with proper psychiatric treatment and showed it to someone who was convinced that The Church had been involved in a deliberate cover-up for 50 years. I brought up another article written by a feminist in the 1970's about how horribly children and women, victims of sex crimes, had been treated by the legal system for centuries...and how during most of that time the consensus among experts was that it was better not to expose the victims to more trauma by reporting crimes to the police. In fact, the very article was written in an attempt to turn that around....to make it safer for victims to report their crimes. The person, someone my own age, told me that it wasn't that way anymore and anyway if The Catholic Church was truly guided by The Holy Spirit then if WE had gone against popular wisdom of the day, we would have proven how wrong everyone was at the time.
Oddly enough, The Church has experienced it biggest growth since the 1940's and 1950's in the ten years since the scandals broke. I believe it is because those Catholics who left The Church were really Protestants anyway...and the ones coming in are convicted in their hearts, they want reality, they want history, they want continuity, they want authority. They want Truth. Our RCIA classes are bursting. People are returning to Mass and bringing spouses and children. Eight years ago we had 50 kids in PSR ...today we have 400 and a waiting list.
Recently, someone who is a known Catholic Basher came to me in tears. He had taken my challenge and actually read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is not some college professor, though he is hardly a dumb bunny, and so he was surprised that he could not only read it, he could understand it. He sat for a week, in the cab of his big rig, with a Catechism he bought a Wal-Mart for 3 bucks and his King James version of The Bible...and he went through the whole thing.....and he wanted to apologize to me. He was, he told me, 'shocked' to discover that all he had been told about us was a lie and that we were not only real Christians he was now considering the possibility that our form of worship was complete. He went to his first Mass. He recognized the Biblical foundation in every part of it...even to seeing the Book of Revelations in the manner in which we celebrate The Eucharist.
He starts RCIA next week but will have to do it 'on the road'. That's cool. He is the second trucker to come into RCIA at St Joseph's. The first was an Assembly of God preacher who, today, is a member of The Militia Immaculata. That's a HUGE jump in Faith....but with God all things are possible.
Watching the news media swarm over the downtown streets Friday morning, having to warn my clerks about giving out information or answering any questions, thinking about the families involved and the lives this situation was going to upend, I could not help but think that the crumbling facade of false gods and bogus authority is all around us right now. We will be forced to look solidly at our lives and discover what we are really made of...are we truly Creatures of God or are we simply children of men? Time will be the telling, I supposed....but once again, a lot is being asked of God's People and we won't be able to do it unless we are willing to cooperate with the grace He gives us.
The Light, The Way.....The Truth.....once I accepted it, I was truly set free.