There is a permanent lump in my throat as I read the news about our Church—about who knew what and who decided nothing should be done.
I read the news, and I don’t know what to do. I cannot see my way to withholding our paltry weekly contribution to the parishes we attend. Our money helps support the diocese and also the soup kitchen and the little parish school with paper flowers in the windows. Heating fuel in the winter, some modest vestments for Father. The AIDS outreach ministry. The salaries of kind, hardworking Christians. And the diocese. I work for the diocese myself. Is our diocese rotten, too? I have no idea. I am told it is naïve to believe anyone and anything isn’t rotten in the church anymore.
Last Sunday, I watched my son carry the heavy, brass cross up the center aisle. He loves being an altar boy, is downcast on the weeks when he is not called to serve. I had been allowing myself to daydream of the moment when he might tell me he wants to be a priest. And now I must also think of the moment I will tell him how to protect himself in seminary, how to ward off attack from the depraved, how to keep himself innocent as he learns how to bring Christ into the world.
He knew about Uncle Ted, and he knew about everything else we’re about to find out. That is why he came.
I don’t know what to do. Write to the bishop, I suppose. Demand more oversight by laypeople. Demand that they stop lobbying against extensions of the statute of limitations. Demand more transparency. I will do some penance. I will pray. I will listen to people who rage against the church, and I will offer no defense because all of it is true.
The answer I keep coming to: Jesus already knew. He carried the sin of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in his butchered heart. He groaned the groan of a tortured seminarian as His back was laid open on the way to Calvary. His scalp split with the pressure of the thorny mass of lies, evasions, excuses and accommodations as the decades passed and everybody knew, everybody knew what went on, everybody knew about Uncle Ted. And Christ knew about Uncle Ted. And he wept and bled and died knowing.
You think you want to run away from the church. You think you will find a place where there is not so much hypocrisy, so much entrenched evil, a place that isn’t built from layer upon layer of guilt and shame and depravity. You may find such a place; I don’t know. But you will not find in it a God who weeps and bleeds and dies, who has taken sin into His bosom, swallowed it whole, let it burn in his belly until it finally burns out. You will only find this God in the Holy Roman Rotten Catholic Church, where the depraved teach young men how to confect God.
It is a rotten church. But it is not rotten to the heart because Jesus is the heart. There is more bloodshed there than I expected to see. But Jesus is there. He knew about Uncle Ted, and he knew about everything else we’re about to find out. That is why he came. Remember this, whatever else we do.