How pastoral failures in communication are provoking a crisis of faith

New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, center, listens to a speaker Nov. 14 at the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Earlier this week, it seemed like the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops failed as soon as it began, with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo’s announcement that the Vatican had asked the bishops not to vote on their proposals for responding to the sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. church. For many U.S. Catholics, for whom waiting for a previously scheduled annual meeting in November to address the summer’s sexual abuse scandals already seemed like an unconscionable delay, this last-minute order to wait seemed callous, if not outright cruel. With no advance notice and no real explanation, the hoped-for beginning of some official response to months of pain and anguish was pushed off again, to sometime after February’s international meeting of presidents of bishops’ conferences in Rome about sexual abuse.

There are both hopeful and skeptical explanations about what motivated the Vatican’s intervention to delay the vote. The tragedy of the last week, however, is not that bishops were unable to vote on the reform proposals. The tragedy of the last week is that the faithful are left to read tea leaves to understand what their bishops and their pope are trying to do in the first place. And the fund of trust has been spent so far into deficit that the Vatican’s action, which in the past could have been interpreted and explained over time, instead provokes a crisis of faith in church leadership, if not in the church itself. While much of this damage is caused by bad communication, it would be a mistake to understand it primarily as a public relations failure. It is above all a pastoral failure to understand the experience of the faithful and prioritize their needs above the strategic, canonical, bureaucratic and clerical concerns that have thus far governed the church’s response to this crisis.

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It is above all a pastoral failure to understand the experience of the faithful and prioritize their needs above strategic, canonical, bureaucratic and clerical concerns.

Distrust in church leadership has been building all summer and fall. From the McCarrick revelations to the Pennsylvania grand jury report to the mess of the Viganò accusations, the church keeps learning about different ways its leaders have avoided responsibility and shifted blame. After the grand jury report was released—on a planned date, with dioceses having received advance copies—the faithful waited an agonizing two days for the Vatican press office to offer a response and another four days after that for Pope Francis’ letter to the church on sexual abuse. While Pope Francis’ choice of silence in response to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s calumnies seems to have been well discerned, the lack of explanation around it left ample room for the worst possible interpretations to fester. The conclusion that the slowness (or outright absence) of answers from various congregations in the Vatican stemmed from a fear of taking responsibility for having ignored reports about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick stretching back into the papacy of John Paul II was almost unavoidable.

With every new revelation of past failures, we wait for the slow and inadequate acknowledgment of error, usually fenced around with excuses about following the best available advice at the time or explanations of why allegations of priests preying on seminarians were not taken more seriously or reported more explicitly. The problem is not that these explanations are untrue but rather that they are not answering the more pressing question: How can we trust that things have really changed and that real reform has begun?

I think the hopeful explanations for the Vatican’s intervention earlier this week are more plausible than the negative spin. It is not hard to imagine that proposals finished less than two weeks before the meeting were rushed or that developing processes for holding bishops accountable will benefit from coordination with other bishops’ conferences and the Vatican. But those reasons could have easily been explained in those terms on Monday or earlier. The delay in the vote could have been announced—by the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and the U.S.C.C.B. together—as a coordinated decision to allow for a period of consultation and debate in order achieve more substantial reform for the whole church. Or it could have been posed in terms of a challenge from Pope Francis to the bishops to get to the spiritual roots of this crisis—and not simply adopt procedural reforms, as he has suggested in calling the bishops to a retreat. Some commentators would have found this disingenuous, of course, but the better and more hopeful explanation would have been publicly available without requiring Vaticanistas to decode it.

The opacity of the Vatican’s intervention may have done more damage than the intervention itself.

Instead, we got a surprise announcement on Monday morning, which appeared to catch the bishops as flat-footed as everyone else, including even Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, who collaborates closely with the pope on the question of sexual abuse. Cardinal DiNardo was left to explain a request communicated in a letter from the Congregation for Bishops, but the letter was not released. While governance by letter is standard ecclesial practice, its inadequacies under these conditions are tragic. The opacity of the Vatican’s intervention may have done more damage than the intervention itself.

People with more knowledge of the inner workings of the Vatican than I have have told me that I should not expect the universal church to operate according to the expectations of the 21st-century American media landscape. They also say that Americans have unreasonable expectations that whatever happens on our shores should command instant attention from everyone everywhere. The church is much bigger than the United States. These are fair and accurate points.

Nonetheless, for the U.S. church, reports in the American media that arrive at a 21st-century pace are how the majority of the faithful find out both about the church’s failures in the sexual abuse crisis and its halting attempts at reform. The failure to acknowledge and plan for that situation is a pastoral failure. It causes real harm and scandal among the faithful; it weakens trust that has already been damaged and betrayed by the failures of church leaders time and time again. As Elizabeth Bruenig wrote in The Washington Post, such trust “is an exhaustible capacity.” Rebuilding that trust will only happen with God’s grace and significant reform unfolding over years, if not decades.

In the meantime, bishops and Vatican officials need to operate with the understanding that trust is already at the breaking point. Bishop Steven Biegler of Cheyenne, Wyo., expressed this concern to other bishops during the U.S.C.C.B. meeting, saying:“I feel that we have no tenderness in our hearts to hear the cries that have come our way for mercy. I feel that we failed to work with co-responsibility for the laypeople.” Those are the feelings that many in the church are struggling with. We need to be able to trust that our pastors recognize them, too.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of Sex Abuse and the Catholic Church.]

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J Cosgrove
4 weeks ago

There should be no crisis of faith if one believes. While in my lifetime, this is by far the worse that anything has been said about the clergy, these sins of a few or many should not make any difference. Faith is based on what Christ said and did. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The fact that a few have seriously strayed from this belief should not affect our faith but they have to be dealt with. The sad thing is that most of the priests and bishops are unfairly stained by this when they are mostly exemplary.

sheila gray
4 weeks ago

Dear J Cosgrove: I don’t know who you are, but this Survivor is shocked at your comments... “these sins of a few or many should not make any difference.” What would make a difference to you? Perhaps hundreds of thousands of Victims hanging from crosses along the road to Rome would open your eyes to the greatest crisis the Catholic Church has ever encountered? I doubt it. I think some part of your soul is in serious danger, J Cosgrove. Your humanity seems to have left the stage already.

J Cosgrove
4 weeks ago

I think you do not understand my comments nor should you ever judge like you have. One's faith should not be affected by the sins of a few or many. No one and certainly not myself are down playing the actions of the abusers or the effect their actions had on those who trusted them. But what they did should not affect one's faith.

sheila gray
3 weeks 6 days ago

BUT IT DOES... affect one’s faith, more than anything else. You are the one who is “judging”. And I, as a Survivor, am not judging you. I am telling you that your ideas, and your written words, are hurtful to victims and survivors. How dare you?! Whomever you are, you are part of the problem destroying The Church, destroying the lives of countless survivors. Your point of view, in my opinion, is sick, and wrong, and anethama to anything good still left in this pitiful institution. Have a great day.

J Cosgrove
3 weeks 6 days ago

Sheila, if you don't believe the Catholic Church was set up for attaining salvation, then it is a fraudulent institution. But if you do believe that it is, then whatever bad things happen by people associated with it are not relevant to one's faith. It doesn't mean one has no understanding of the harm caused. There have been extremely bad people in the Church since the beginning. There will be extremely bad people associated with it in the future. The abuse is a result of a series of very corrupt individuals. But I have seen so much good done by other priests and religious not to make the judgments you are making.

sheila gray
3 weeks 6 days ago

Why are you so hung up on the concept of judgement. I am a Survivor of two violent alcoholic parents who sent me to a private Catholic school at age 7, where I was forced to call every teacher “Mother”, to curtsy whenever I walked by a nun, to only speak at Morning Recreation and Recess, and to be Silent in Class. I had no choice whatsoever. I believed the nuns, and I loved them wholeheartedly because I somehow believed they loved me too. I lived in two worlds; the chaos of my home, and the rigid perfection of my teachers. The Abuse Crisis was, and still is, caused by good people protecting their backsides through silence and secrecy. For you to try to tell me that it is perfect in and of itself, is ludicrous. The Church is its Clergy, it’s Teachings, and its Lay followers. All of it, and all of us, are RELEVANT. And The Church must change to survive. Whomever you are, I am telling you that Survivors are finished letting people like you run things. Your party is over. This is my Church too. This is our Church too. I believe with all my heart that the only hope for this Church to survive is to Let Survivors Take The Wheel. Those of us who are still alive, still sane, still strong enough to fight for what almost destroyed us, The Catholic Church, are coming back... I am not asking, I am telling you, change... NOW. Or you will be trampled by us on our way to the Future. Jesus was a Revolutionary. Jesus was the beginning of the end of your way of dealing with people. I love you, but you enrage me.

Bev Ceccanti
3 weeks 4 days ago

I agree with Cosgrove completely. I am sickhearted about the sacrilege that has been going on within the Church but I would never leave it. Why would anyone leave the only Church Jesus established?. And don't worry , we've had our saints in every age and we continue to do so. We are gathered in His name every day around the world, every time we go to Mass, say our prayers , make the sign of the cross, receive the sacraments or use sacramentals. Jesus said the 'gates of hell would not prevail' against His Church. I'm a believer.

Bev Ceccanti
3 weeks 4 days ago

Oh....I neglected to mention your account doesn't make sense.. Ones

ps....I don't believe your account for a minute. Calling all the nuns "Mother' impugns the whole thing. There are no Catholic schools with a bunch of Mothers in them.

sheila gray
3 weeks 4 days ago

The Religious of the Sacred Heart were called “Mother” from their origins in 1800 till the end of my Freshman year in 1967, when all the “Madams” showed up one day in a new habit and told us to start calling them “Sister” instead of “Mother”. You are calling me a liar, you realize that, right? That is hurtful and foolish. Who would lie about such a thing? Not me. Here is a short list of the many famous women who were educated by the Religious of the Sacred Heart: Rose Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, Dianne Feinstein, Lady Gaga, Cokie Roberts...!!! There are more & more and more.

Bev Ceccanti
2 weeks 2 days ago

I am sorry for the comment. Forgive my ignorance. In my experience of 13 years of Catholic education at more than one school, the term "Mother' was reserved for the sisters with a 'superior' position. I looked up the Religious of the Sacred Heart on the internet and learned that at one time those who joined the order used the term Mother or Sister.

Phillip Stone
3 weeks 6 days ago

One can only be shocked when naive or in the face of stark abomination.
A statement on a website has little power to shock adults, particularly mature Christian adults.

One chosen apostle sold the Son of God to be crucified and then committed suicide, the first apostle denied Him three times, Popes have murdered people and at least one begat a child on his daughter, Inquisitors burned women at the stake for witchcraft, little boys who could sing beautifully were castrated so as to keep their high voices to delight people worshipping music and ceremony. These were fellow Catholics.

I would tell you to grow up and stop virtue signalling but instead will caution you that despite the silly weasel word you describe yourself by, you have NOT survived unscathed, you are wounded and it shows and we will choose to have pity for you instead.

sheila gray
3 weeks 6 days ago

Are you addressing me? If you are, I forgive you. I need your pity like I need your advice, brother.

Phillip Stone
3 weeks ago

Well, maybe you need fraternal rebuke and so here it goes.

You have adopted victimhood as a virtue and nurture hate, bitterness and resentment in your heart and have no hesitation in criticism and rebuke and condemnation to anyone who does not adopt the same point of view as your own.

I recommend you think again - there is an excellent book written by Jesuit brothers and clinical psychologists Dennis and Matthew Linn called "Healing Life's Hurts through Forgiveness".

No-one has crucified you, but your Lord has said to his Father "Father forgive them for they know not what they do!".
He has obtained the power to forgive those who sin against you and are deemed your hated enemy and is making it available to you to appropriate whenever you decide to do so.

After death, the judgement is of YOU and YOU ALONE and no excuses and blame towards others will be part of the outcome.
And it is futile for you to come back at me with the nonsense about anyone disagreeing with you as not being a fellow wounded person - you have no idea of the terrible things done to me from before I was born and if I told you it would be casting pearls before swine.

rose-ellen caminer
4 weeks ago

My faith is challenged all the time; every day of my life. But the last thing to challenge my faith would be the sex abuse scandal in the church. The church is an ancient opaque hierarchical institution. In over two thousand years many in the church even in the name of the church, in the name of Jesus Christ , have committed horrible sins, have had theological judgements that are obviously evil yet this has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.or the Church as a mystical institution that he founded. paradise was also holy, till humans sinned.God is God ,man is man. What does challenges my faith is the reality of horrific sufferings; what I read or see in the news; people burning to death in a fire, children starving to death in Yemen, people in pain in cancer wards. All such atrocious sufferings challenge my faith . sexual abuse /corruption of power in the church as anywhere is offensive but does not riser to that visceral response of thinking; how can God allow such suffering? "Some things are too terrible to be true" Sinners in the church being corrupted by sex power drives; so what else is new in the world? Own up to it. expose it and FIX IT.

F C
3 weeks 6 days ago

J Cosgrove
As a good Catholic you'd know that scripture sits alongside tradition and the bishops as an equal - not greater - source of authority.

J Cosgrove
3 weeks 6 days ago

In 16 years of Catholic education including a degree from a Jesuit university I was never taught that. I was taught that tradition was the early Christian's understanding of what Christ taught or essentially the same as scripture. I was taught that at various times the Church clarified what was scripture or what it meant. But this is rare. I rarely have heard a homily which I thought has contradicted my 16 years of education. But that is not the point here.

F C
3 weeks 6 days ago

J Cosgrove
The Catechism of The Catholic Church (95) states: "It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls" . If we are to follow this, then loss of confidence in the Bishops must necessarily go to crisis of faith - and this is justly felt by many.

Indeed, the Catechism also states that: "The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him" (100). You seem to be suggesting that exercise of this authority is "rare" - yet nothing could be further from the truth.

J Cosgrove
3 weeks 5 days ago

It is rare. I suggest you look at the history of it.

F C
3 weeks 3 days ago

J Cosgrove
"It" is not rare. I suggest you look at the Catechism as quoted previously and in the following:

"'The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone [i.e. the Magisterium]. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.' This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome." (85).

You might also note: "Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: 'He who hears you, hears me', the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms." (87)

J Cosgrove
3 weeks 3 days ago

You just confirmed what I said by your failure to refute me. Thank you for making my point.

F C
3 weeks 2 days ago

J Cosgrove
As I said, the Catechism itself refutes you. Read it.

J Cosgrove
3 weeks 2 days ago

Tradition is most important. It is what did Christ say and the Apostles believe that is the basis for Catholicism. Scripture is a form of tradition since it records much of what was supposedly said and done so in a way is a recording of tradition. The Gospels were not dictated by Christ but written down several years afterwards so represents tradition. The Magisterium interprets tradition and scripture and is rarely used for anything important in the last 500 years. If you think otherwise, then list them all. Only two doctrines were made infallible, the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception.

F C
3 weeks 2 days ago

J Cosgrove
You seem to be confusing sacred magisterium and ordinary magisterium - they make different claims regarding fallibility but stand together as the authorised source of our understanding of scripture and tradition. Your astonishing statement that the Magisterium has rarely produced "anything important in the last 500 years" is completely and utterly false. As just the most recent example of a serious utterance, take Pope Francis's Amoris Laetitia (2016) which has significantly revised the Church's understanding of divorce. The following Vatican website will give access to all of the Pope's pronouncements: http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html

Phillip Stone
3 weeks ago

What utter nonsense.
Any, each and all catechism versions is a work of man - you appear to reverence it is such a way that it is, to you, the new infallible addition to and superior to Scripture in authority.

Not a word of the Good News would be lost if all catechisms in the world were to be totally destroyed.
Jesus would not have come in vain, and His message and invitation would not be lost.
I suspect that this Catholic fetish with catechisms is adolescent immaturity and intellectual and spiritual laziness transforming a life of faith into a guarantee of conformity to a large group of the best people.
Knowing the whole catechism cover to cover by heart will not get you the slightest closer to a personal relationship with our Risen Saviour and transformation into His likeness.

Can the catechism convince anyone that a man has come back from the dead, that a man was also God, that putting faith and trust in that unique individual opens you to the possibility of avoiding Hell?

F C
2 weeks 6 days ago

Phillip Stone
You write: "you appear to reverence it is such a way that it is, to you, the new infallible addition to and superior to Scripture in authority." I don't believe the Catechism of the Catholic Church claims any of the status and power you describe. It is merely a compendium of teachings - these emanating from scripture and as illuminated by tradition and the bishops past and present. I'm sorry you see it as a fetish.

Charlie Ingram
2 weeks 1 day ago

The Church cannot be so deaf, deflective and downright ignorant of the fact that there is a now a very tenuous thread between faith and acceptance. I think what we are seeing today is the fact that faith has now been stretched to the breaking point and acceptance is no longer acceptable. Only a very strong break from the past is acceptable. A new Reformation may be called for if The Church is to hold on to its authority, even in religious matters. The veil has been drawn back. What has been uncovered is sadly both ugly and totally lacking in moral responsibility and leadership. What has been seen cannot be unseen.

Vincent Gaglione
3 weeks 6 days ago

There is a rigidity of perspectives in the comments here that are unsettling. They either ignore the effect of human emotion vis-à-vis difficult circumstances or exaggerate those emotions in the face of difficult situations.

The article speaks to a pastoral failure. The article is on target about that failure. It is not new however. It just boggles the mind that it perdures in spite of the recognition of it .

J Cosgrove
3 weeks 6 days ago

Don't judge. Ask questions. The headline is poorly written. Is it about faith in the Church or trust in the current hierarchy? I have little trust in many of the current hierarchy at this moment but nothing they or other abusive priest have done should shake one's faith in God or the Church itself if one has belief. Belief is the real crisis. If those who abused and covered for them believed, there would be no crisis.

Vincent Gaglione
3 weeks 3 days ago

Belief is a fragile commodity. There is no anchor for it except a deep trust in one’s own rationality and good judgment. It is developed and constructed and evolved through a lifetime. It has no basis in the physical or biological world except through inference. It is strengthened when others teach and demonstrate similar beliefs. It is weakened when alleged believers falter. It is sometimes hardened and calcified when it is challenged and confronted by unbelievers. But it is very fragile, subject to self-questioning and disbelief in trying circumstances. Without being denigrating, I would suggest that the kind of belief that you describe is unbelievable and that, for most of us, it is not so. We struggle through our lives with belief. Mother Theresa comes to mind as I write this.

J Cosgrove
3 weeks 3 days ago

Belief is the assent of the intellect to the probable truth of a concept or fact. In terms of the Church, there is a belief in God. There is a belief that Christ is God. There is a belief that Christ came for salvation. There is a belief that Christ provided a framework for achieving salvation. None of these can ever be certain. Which is what faith is about. But to be a Catholic, one must assent to these and some other concepts. For example, a Jesuit once told us in a religion course the three foundations of the Catholic Church are "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again." These beliefs are always on a knife edge with forces pulling each way.

Craig McKee
3 weeks 6 days ago

Until the crisis of "faith" among the faithful is transformed into a crisis of FINANCE among the hierarchy, nothing will change. In other words:
"pecunia loquitur, de stercore tauri graditur."

Jerry Norton
3 weeks 4 days ago

Too sarcastic to be helpful.

Frank Pray
3 weeks 6 days ago

I question the sources of input the Vactican is receiving, and what is allowed to filter to the Pope? Francis is a pastoral leader, and likely needs to connect even more with his world community on the issue of child rape by priests and even a Cardinal. In other words, he needs somehow to find a way to get beyond the Vatican walls, or to bring segments of the Catholic lay community from various countries for private visits within those walls. Why? Because he, as pastoral as he is, is out of touch with his people. Quite clearly, there is a blind spot in the Vatican’s perception of the crisis.

Ron Chandonia
3 weeks 6 days ago

"If the tsar only knew!" Hate to tell you, the tsar knows.

Neil Purcell
3 weeks 6 days ago

The bishops have already lost the trust of those they imagine they are leading. The sexual abuse crisis is only one example, however horrendous, of a pattern of failures in leadership and communication. The problems are a combination of doctrine, structure and personnel - Francis has tried to correct some of these issues, but he is failing. The bishops themselves are part of the problem - most of them need to be replaced. But ultimately, the structure also needs to change. The laity must run the church. Fundamental change is needed, and the old order is unwilling or unable to make it happen.

Michael Barberi
3 weeks 6 days ago

This article is right to point out the pastoral failure of the Vatican regarding the manner they choose to communicate a delay in the vote by the USCCB.

Moral outrage could have been avoided by a joint communique between the Vatican and Cardinal DiNardo that adequately explained the delay.

This pastoral mismanagement of communications also demonstrated that the Vatican continues to be out-of-touch with the people and in particular with the victims of sexual abuse. While the 'the Catholic Church is much bigger than the US', it is foolish to minimize the revelations of sexual abuse, coverup and gross negligence that has reached the Office of the Papacy. The Vatican may not believe it has to respond to what the 21st Century US Media and Catholics expect, but it is foolish to be ignorant of the further damage to the Church by their own mismanagement and arrogant actions.

Lastly, my "Faith in Christ" is not damaged by all of this stuff. What is damaged is my "Faith in the Governance and Credibility of the Institutional Church and its Hierarchy to Fix the Sexual Abuse Problem".

Lais Mechsner
3 weeks 6 days ago

To Sheila: We are not the Holy Spirit. We cannot convict people and help them see the horror of sin, even sin that shocks the world. No matter what analogy is used; no matter the labor to invent one that will shock hardened hearts, responses continue to have a familiar theme and are often contradictory--Our faith is in Jesus, not the church, so accept it; the church has a long history of shocking sin so look at this in perspective, not everyone sinned--the list is large, but predictable, repetitive and wearisome. Mothers recognize an amazingly familiar theme and chuckle a bit... If you can imagine telling your story to Jesus, imagine how he would listen, weep with you. He would not be making excuses for what done to you. In the men who did these things, Jesus was not there. There is hope for us and others. Jude 17-25. May God grant to us all, tender hearts that can see sin for what it is and trust God to complete our own conversion and that of others.

Ed Dem
2 weeks 4 days ago

I am touched by your words here and it gave me comfort. Basically you are saying, "Jesus wept." Has the Church become so institutionalized and so large that Jesus' love and tears seem lost within the Vatican by the way it is reacting to the crisis? So, though I agonize along with everyone else, it is comforting to read your words. Yes, Jesus is weeping. And, yes, there is hope for us and others. Jude 17-25.

Ed Dem
2 weeks 4 days ago

.

A Fielder
3 weeks 6 days ago

This article reminds me of a comment that a former vocation director made many years ago when I was discerning religious life. She was trying to describe the turmoil of the 60’s which precipitated a mass exodus from religious life. Some were willing to stay and work for very slow changes, but most of “the good ones left.” I thought to myself, then who is left today? What is the opportunity cost of resistance to change? And at what point should we just let the whole thing.burn to the ground so we can start over!?

Lais Mechsner
3 weeks 6 days ago

I hear you… I’m sure many, just like me, have been discerning for months, watched ourselves taking one position or another, smiled at the heaps of straw piled in front of us, returned to Jesus yet again, finally, simply, asking to see his heart. When I am quiet, away from the excuses, the reasons, the rage and the defenses, it does not matter to me if we have a smaller church. It does not matter if we have a larger church. The Church was always Christ’s and he will make us beautiful.

To me, what seems important is that we recognize what sin has done to us. I have often wanted to ask, of late, if anyone is considering how this has affected ecumenism.

I wonder if the clergy consider they can no longer hold a baby, toss a toddler into the air and enjoy the gleeful shrieks, sit at table with families and just be close. No, they have become increasingly estranged from community and things will tighten further. Can we all understand that it is of our own making? That we are being persecuted, not for the sake of Christ, but for the sake of us? I do not know, but perhaps God will call someone to speak of these things who has better words than I . Don’t we want the world to someday say of us, “see how they love one another” not, “see how they…”

Yet I have a strange joy and confidence because of Him. I trust Him to form the Church because I trust Him to form me. He is praying for us. I am praying to be converted.

Frank Pray
3 weeks 5 days ago

There are so many assumptions unstated by pointing to Vatican II as a contributing problem to the current sexual abuse crisis. Do you think the modernization of liturgy unleashed something new and dark in the sexual behavior of priests? Doesn’t that seem an overreach of “causation?” It reasons that the “sexual revolution” may have shifted the thinking of clergy about the vow of celebacy, but Vatican II did not start nor sustain a sexual revolution. Larger forces were in play, including a disintegration of strong family units and cohesive communities. Truth itself came under attack as merely “relative” in the institutions of higher learning. These are just some of the multiple causative factors that might be at play. Change is not the problem. Maladaptive, destructive change is the problem. I see Vatican II as positive change, and that without it, the Church would be in even deeper crisis than it is today.

A Fielder
3 weeks 3 days ago

Frank, is your question addressed to me? If so, I dont think you understood my post. I made no mention of V2, and said nothing about causation or correlation. Neither was I discouraging change, only bemoaning that it happens so slowly, if at all.

Frank Pray
3 weeks 2 days ago

I may have wrongly assumed a causation link of my own: I connected V2 with your statement: “She was trying to describe the turmoil of the 60’s which precipitated a mass exodus from religious life. ”

rose-ellen caminer
3 weeks 5 days ago

Is the crisis of faith among survivors authentic, or mere petulance; see what you did to me church; you who profess to be the sign to the world of the reality and goodness of the incarnate God! Now I don't believe; all because of YOU! Is it authentic; between the self and the 'absence of God' or is hitting back where it really hurts; payback time church; you made an atheist out of me, or an anti Catholic. Again, all the other wrongs and sufferings in the world never fazed you? A network of pedophilic sexual pervs ,and mostly[ I'm guessing] just normal sexual people repressed by a celibacy rule and at a time when homosexuality was taboo in the church and in the world, is what is beyond the pale of what exists in the human condition! As someone said; just like in paradise; remember, where God is, the devil is too. That is what I believe; the devil is in the church and always has been AND I believe the church is also holy and a sign to the world of the presence and goodness of the incarnate God. The devil has accomplished what it set out to do; , you Church, took away my faith, clamor of many survivors!

F C
3 weeks 4 days ago

No - it isn’t “petulance”.

rose-ellen caminer
3 weeks 4 days ago

Disagree. Throw in "petty", "vindictive" and "merciless," i.e., inauthenticity.

sheila gray
3 weeks 4 days ago

Can you imagine that just by this comment you have hurt me? How? First, you are not a Survivor, so how and why would you even speculate that “our crisis of faith” might be “petulance”? The term means “childishly sulky or bad-tempered”, How dare you try to judge our motives or our crisis of faith?! Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands, of innocent children and teens were raped, molested, and then shunned, banished and forgotten by priests, nuns, bishops, cardinals and popes for decades, maybe for centuries. We must face the full horror of the Truth of it, then we will be able to move forward with the process of healing together. We aren’t petulant. We are suffering and crying out for help, for mercy, and for someone to give a damn before it’s too late. We can do that. We must do that. Or this is Hell.

Tim O'Leary
3 weeks 3 days ago

Sheila - In your description above, you describe your experience as a victim of alcoholic parents and rigid upbringing in school. Were you sexually molested by the nuns, or by a priest? I'm just not sure what you are claiming to be a survivor of.

sheila gray
3 weeks 3 days ago

Sir, thank you for caring enough to respond. I was molested by a Sacred Heart nun. I went to see her in Atherton, CA two years ago. I found out that she was molested by her Mistress of Novices in the 1960’s. But she doesn’t even realize she was molested. When she talked about the woman who ruined her for life, she had a smile on her face... She loved it!!! She has no idea that all of it was wrong, and that one of the RSCJ’s best students was all but destroyed. Yet, here I am baring my heart and soul to total strangers, many of whom hate me. I can feel it.

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