The last week has been brutal. With the grand jury report coming out of Pennsylvania, the Church again finds itself in the midst of a long-brewing scandal. The details of the report are disturbing; I was only able to read the first few pages. That priests could do such horrific things to the very people God gave them to serve has had me boiling with a rage that makes me nauseous and gives me headaches. That bishops allowed it to go on could only possibly double that horror. I want to burn it all to the ground. I want resignations. I want prison sentences. I want therapy covered from the pockets of these bishops and these priests. I want Jesus to come back. I want to leave the Catholic Church.
But I don’t want to leave Jesus, and I am convinced that this is his Church. Not because of the men who take it up by strings and put on a puppet show of cliches and trite little tweets, but because of the history of Christianity, because of the Gospels, and because of the help of the Saints. I believe, thoroughly, that Jesus is here. I just can’t for the life of me begin to imagine why.
We have seen even deeper into the corruption under our noses and have somehow only begun to smell the rot. An abusive culture in seminaries and not-quite-rumors about quiet forces in the hierarchy who maintain silence with threats add an extra layer of confusion and hurt to this mess. And we are left not knowing for certain whether the teachings we hold dear (or hold ourselves to in spite of hating) come from shepherds we can trust or self-centered, perverted assholes who use the Church for status, pleasure, and power without care for who they hurt along the way.
I have been so lost. I want to leave, but I can’t. I know that Jesus would go with me wherever I went. But I want to go with him wherever he goes, and he chooses to be here.
I have spent much of the last week wondering why and how Jesus can associate himself in any way with this corruption and abuse. I wonder where he is in all this, and while I keep coming back to “I need to stay with the Eucharist,” one cannot help but wonder if the monopoly on the Eucharist is just one more trick up the sleeves of greedy perverts. How can any of this be real? How can Christ keep himself in this wreckage?
And how can he not?
How can the Jesus of the Gospels keep himself away from this inglorious shitshow of a Church? How can the Son of God resist the love which draws him to the broken, the confused, and even the cruel? The affection he has for sinners doesn’t end with me. It extends even to those whose skulls may well light the streets of hell, and whose bones may pave the way. He is here, even when his Bride is in the clutches of evil.
A realization startled me today: I don’t want to be comforted. I have been floundering about, trying to pull myself together, looking for an answer and a place to go. But the only place there ever is to go is the cross. This is not to say there shouldn’t be work done to eliminate this rot, remove the bishops with guilt on their heads and even blood on their hands, send what abusive priests we can still to prison, and laicize the rest with clear warnings issued from the Church regarding why. There is much to do, and we need to do it. And it isn’t fair that anyone in the laity should have to bear this weight. And in that is the cross.
I don’t want to be comforted while so many are suffering. I don’t want to be at peace while so many sit in prominence with crimes against children on their shoulders.
I want to be wherever Jesus is. And Jesus is screaming from the cross with me, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned us?”