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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Grateful for the Wisdom of the Body of Christ

This morning in the Modesto Bee I was treated to the OpEd piece written by Karen Tumulty entitled Why am I still Catholic? (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2018/08/19/why-am-i-still-a-catholic/?utm_term=.cbc413f21222).  Ms. Tumulty captured my thoughts and feelings so well that I got teary-eyed.  As a 'Cradle Catholic' who left the Faith for many years and returned during the height of the 1990's sex abuse revelations, I have felt a big shell-shocked over the past two weeks.  I have, rightly, anticipated the hateful emails and FaceBook posts, the attempts at explanations by the hierarchy, the declarations of Faith and the sorrow expressed by those who now leave the Church Jesus founded for parts unknown, unable to accept that the Bishops and Cardinals we trust with handing on The Faith have behaved like men and sinned.

What struck me most about her piece was the words she quoted from the homily given by the young priest at her Parish.  Only ordained three years ago, Father directed his flock to the day's Gospel reading.  Ms. Tumulty then writes:

And then he pointed us to this morning’s Gospel, from the book of John, in which Jesus made the most fundamental of his promises, the one that Catholics accept every time they receive the Eucharist: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

It was the compass again, this time pointing the way home, Father Alec said. “I say to myself, I don’t know where else I will find this.”

“For all the problems that we experience,” he added, “there is still the presence of God in this place.”
This young priest spoke bravely and with Truth.  I stay in The Church because I can receive The Eucharist here.  I stay in the Church despite bad priests, lousy homilies, poorly administered parishes and people who walk out of Mass and are rude to me in the parking lot.  I stay Catholic because Jesus did not found Churches, He founded One Church, the Church founded on the Faith expressed by St Peter, our First Pope, who boldly proclaimed who Jesus is - and then promptly denied he even knew Him when the going go a little rough. The same man who later repented in such sorrow that a pious legend claims the tears he shed made furrows in his cheeks.  The same man who later was crucified on a dump heap in Rome, upside down because he did not deem himself worthy to be murdered in the same manner as his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I am Catholic because the Catholic Church welcomed people like Saul of Tarsus into Her ranks after he tried to murder Her members, even going so far as to get written permission from his own religious leaders to do so, because he found Truth.  Without his evangelization, his writings, Europe would not have received the Gift of the Holy Eucharist, survived war, famine, bad popes and scandal.  
Non-Catholics and former Catholics are right to point to the sins of the Bishops and Cardinals and other administrators and demand that they take full responsibility for their sins, for the horrors they help perpetuate and, in some cases, actually perpetrated themselves.  They owe a huge amends to those young men driven from their priestly calling by sexual predators in seminaries.  And while I can point out, rightfully, that the social mores of the time many of these assaults occurred played a huge part in how they were handled I have, in the past two weeks, had to confront my own thoughts, ideas and opinions and ask myself some very hard questions.

I have beloved family members who are practicing homosexuals.  I love them.  I see the good they do in the world.  I know that they would no more assault a child than poke themselves in the eye with a fork.

That being said, it would be a huge lie to pretend that the type of behavior many of our men in seminaries experienced from homosexual priests was limited to those who have a problem being predators.  Cardinal McCarrick behaved like a lot of the men I knew when I was a Fag Hag back in the 1970's.   What is shocking about his behavior is that he broke his vow of marriage - marriage to Holy Mother Church - and he did so with an attitude of smugness because he was allowed to do so by the Bishops around him.  No one stood up to this man and said, "STOP THIS RIGHT NOW".  Those who brought his behavior to other Bishops were told to shut up, were ignored or were told they were liars.

McCarrick and others who broke their vows were facilitated in their sin.  They were allowed to continue their behavior.  That is wrong.  There is no nuance, there is no explanation that can suffice.

I am ashamed of the behavior of these men and I, as a member of the Body of Christ, have begun to do penance for those sins.  I offer something each day in reparation for the mess I helped to create by not demanding strong priests, not praying for those who are holy and good and not standing up to wishy washy Bishops and tell them to knock it OFF when an orthodox priest goes against what is politically correct in their eyes.  I should have stood up faster and told my bishop that I expect him to lead his flock as JESUS would have and that means BEING A CATHOLIC even if it is inconvenient.

I stay Catholic.  I stay Catholic because Her teachings are Truth.  I stay an American because the ideals of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are true, strong and good.  I stay a member of my family because, despite our idiotic behavior, we are good people.

I do not abandon, I participate.  I look evil in the eye and I let it know it will not defeat me.

In the words of my late father, I may go down, but I go down with all weapons firing - and my weapon is Love.





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