by Bil Aulenbach

“It’s Really Hard to Be a Catholic”

“‘It’s Really Hard to Be a Catholic’: The Pain of Reading the Sex Abuse Report” is an eye-catching headline in the August 16, 2018, issue of the New York Times. The world has grappled with the issue of Roman Catholic clergy abusing children for decades. The problem never seems to be resolved, and maybe it even worsens as more skeletons come out of the closet.

I don’t think the August 16, 2018, Washington Post headline, “Vatican in ‘Shame and Sorrow’ over Abuses in Pennsylvania,” helped. To me, those words are as empty and meaningless as when politicians offer thoughts and prayers after another school massacre. Shame and sorrow don’t fix any problems. Both sayings sound holy and full of concern, but the National Rifle Association still runs Congress, and some clergypeople are still abusing children.

Moving and hiding child-abusing clergymen is not a solution—it’s a disgrace!

Here’s a quick solution: Turn all abusers over to the police and let our criminal justice system do what it does with all sexual abusers. Have public trials that send the guilty to prison, and then let them live in the real world with the sex offender label for the rest of their lives.

This wouldn’t stop sexual offenders, but it would allow the church to demonstrate clearly that it treats abusive clergy and lay staff the same way the rest of society treats people accused of sexual abuse.

To make matters worse, Bill Donohue, a conservative Catholic, retired Air Force general, and executive director of the Catholic League, published a rebuttal of the sex abuse report on August 16, 2018, claiming that the media has blown this scandal all out of proportion. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Only about half of the accused are actually guilty. It’s not rape if the victims weren’t penetrated.

Donohue suggests that only a few priests committed abuse, but he never addresses the underlying issues, which I believe center around the Catholic church’s negative view of our wonderful gift of sexuality.

The church has had gays and lesbians in its ranks since the beginning. The Catholic church leadership just won’t recognize it and pretends the gay clergy are not really gay. My own Episcopal Church bit the bullet in the 1970s and decided Jesus’s message about agape (unconditional love) is what Christianity is all about. The Episcopal Church doesn’t have any closeted gays or lesbians. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with being a clergyperson.

The Catholic church enacted compulsory celibacy for the clergy in the fourth century. I guess it worked for many centuries (I have my doubts), but in the twenty-first century, that antiquated idea needs to be revisited. Almost all other religions allow their clergy to be married. Honest Catholics acknowledge that some Catholic clergy are already married.

In today’s climate of equality, the Catholics need to give serious thought to ordaining women, who make wonderful, caring, sensitive, humane church leaders, often more so than men.

My real issue is worse than difficulty being a Catholic. For me, it’s really hard to be a Christian when I see child abuse continuing for decades and fundamentalists pledging blind allegiance to a morally corrupt wannabe dictator.

Do you find it hard to be a Christian?

 

Image courtesy of michael_swan (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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