Dear Holy Father:
I want you to know something - as to any action you or the Catholic Church might take regarding sexual abuse . . . it will never be enough.
Please be assured that I am not suggesting that you refrain from any such action. I just want to remind you that nothing the Catholic Church can do will ever appease her detractors now, because the only thing that will be satisfactory is the complete destruction of Holy Mother Church. Pretty much if Catholicism could be eradicated from the face of this Earth, that would make them happy.
I think. I am not sure. They may want some bloodsport, too.
Sure, I know that we are a family of more than 1 billion souls on this earth. Twenty-one of them, as a matter of fact, came just this last Easter Vigil at my parish of St. Joseph in Santa Ana, CA. Look at that - people still coming to the Catholic Church, despite . . . .
Despite what? Well, if popular culture were to be believed, the Church is naught but a hell-hole of pedophiles to whom the rest of us mindlessly offer our children and our tithing. I mean, hell . . . oops, your Holiness, I meant to say heck . . . the majority of comments in the newspaper article accompanying the announcement of the death of Bishop Norman McFarland pretty much reflect this tone:
I fell away from the church many years ago even after 12 years of Catholic indoctrination. It was due to the excommunication of my mother from the sacraments since she was divorced from my father who cheated on her. I also found it pretty awful that the nuns had to travel in groups, share a car and stick fervently to their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, meanwhile the priests were allowed to whoop it up at college frat parties........saw them there, not to mention getting drunk at reunions and weddings.......witnessed that too. Perhaps it was just the nuns telling us everyday, "the pill is bad" or if you eat that meat on Friday on purpose and you die, you will go straight to hell. The pedophile priests were the icing on the cake and the push out the door for me. I view the Church today preying on the immigrants for the little money they have, while they build Cathedrals for themselves. They should be paying taxes for their political stances today. Just my opinion.They are a lot worse on other articles, but I think you get the drift. And of course, we have had "celebrities" like Roseann Barr, who has suggested that parents who bring their children to the Church are neglectful and should have the children removed from their homes. Don't even get me started on New York Times colunist Maureen Dowd - is there a novena we can say for her, or something?
I left the Catholic Church 40 years ago, long before the infamous cases of child molestation were official news. I knew as a young man that this organization was corrupt, and I guess I made the right decision.
That mean, paternalistic clergy! If I listen to the vox populi, the only heroes left in the Catholic Church are those nuns that signed a letter in support of Obamacare and who actually have openly called for a "revision" of the Church's teachings on abortion. Yeah, you and I know there are a larger number of religious communities who are pro-life and even still wear habits, unashamed as they are to let the world see that they are brides of Christ. But it's not just pedophilia and abortion.
It's birth control.
It's labeling the homosexual act as sinful.
It's prohibitions against pre-marital and extra-marital sex.
It's priestly celibacy.
It's precluding women from the priesthood.
It's the infallibility of the Pope.
It's no meat on Friday.
It's insisting that the Bread and the Wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at Mass - and the requirement that only those in communion with the Church (Catholics included) come forth to receive it.
It's Penance, aka Confession, aka Reconciliation - because who is anybody to judge?
It's the lack of tambourines at Mass.
Oh, well, skip that last one, because unfortunately, there are some churches where that shows up. But my point is, your Holiness, the real gripe about the Catholic Church is its existence. The insults hurled against her is less about any particular issue - they manifest the desire to see her destruction. Completely and utterly.
Because everyone who hates her seems to have an opinion about how to change her for the better, even if it meant disposing of tenets of faith and "capital-t" Traditions. Mind you, most do not seem to know about the very topic they wish to change. Take that old infallibility issue. You and I know that the person of the Pope is not infallible but the Church - instituted as she is by Christ - is infallible. It is only when the Pope speaks as a matter of faith ex cathedra - that is, as the Church - that he invokes infallibility. But such nuance is lost on a lot of people.
In short, they want to make her what she is not - and that, Holy Father, is why I say the issue is not bringing pedophile priests to justice so much as it is removing our Catholic faith and heritage from the history books. Okay, only the good parts. The bad parts - and there have been many, which is a wonderful testament to the Holy Spirit that despite such, we are still here after 2000+ years - those can remain as "lessons".
So . . . what you do will never be enough. Not for our critics.
But take heart. First, remember the message of Jesus who said:
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12).
And second - I am still for Mother Church. I love her. I hold to her precepts - imperfectly, to be sure, but so do the other 1 billion. A lot of my friends still do as well. And notwithstanding the thought of re-education camps for my kids, my children continue in a Catholic school and practice the faith.
In the meantime, we will try to pray for the souls of those who will undoubtedly protest outside Bishop McFarland's funeral (my Canon plans on attending both the vigil and the funeral) and bite our tongues when anit-Catholic bias is accepted as fodder for cheap comedy shots by Hollywood (okay, I won't be doing that, so I am glad there is that confessional booth).
And hey . . . if you remember, could you send a postcard from Malta to my friend, The Crescat? She really digs both that place and you. And I have it on good authority that she's only kidding about the Swiss Guards . . .
Pax Christi vobiscum,