In reference to my post in this thread: People who know me know that I do not customarily go out of my way to inflict pain on good people, which is what my post did. So why did I say what I did in the way I did and to whom I said it? And why did I choose such charged language?
I’ve been asking that of myself all weekend. It turns out I have some unresolved anger, guilt and self-hatred over the circumstances of my separation from the Catholic Church. I didn’t used to know that; now I do. (To prevent misunderstandings, I was not abused.) I apologize that it took putting that post out there with that language to realize that. That’s also why I went offline immediately after submitting the post, another mistake – I went to beat myself up a bit. I apologize for that, too.
That doesn’t mean that I can unsay what I said with an apology for the circumstances without addressing the post itself. That wouldn’t be honest, and no one would or should buy it. So I shall instead expand my remarks somewhat in hopes of being more clear and more polite.
The Catholic Church in the United States is not a child sex cult because there are lots of instances of priests abusing young boys. But it has acted like a child sex cult because the very highest levels of the U.S. church engaged in a coordinated, prolonged strategy of covering up abuse and returning culpable priests to duty, free to repeat their crimes, without informing members of the community into which they were inserting the priests. They used perhaps hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars collected from congregants in furtherance of the cover-ups. The cover-ups are sufficiently widespread and the Church is sufficiently hierarchical that I believe I am justified in indicting the Church generally and referring to the practice as a scheme.
I should have made more clear that virtually all Catholics (including virtually all clergy) were and are unwilling and unknowing participants in the scheme, and I should have made it more clear that the duty to act is a new one, on newly discovered information. But I won’t back down from the assertion that the duty to act now exists, and I won’t back down from my characterization of the Church until it acts. This is not some tax evasion racket, nor is it a disagreement about some internal Church policy – this is child abuse.
Guinistasia, to respond to your OP in the way that you deserve, should you leave the church? If you come through this with your Catholic beliefs intact, you most definitely should not. But it’s not enough to be mad, or sad, or grateful that your particular diocese was not part of the scheme. You have the knowledge now. And you have to do something with it if you are to remain a member in good conscience. Despite its hierarchy, the Church exists because of its members. You and other Catholics have an affirmative duty to force the Church to release from their nondisclosure agreements each person with whom they have settled, to disclose the number of settlements and the amount of your money they spent on them, to disclose to the civil authorities the names of abusive priests, to get rid of the senior members of the Church who conducted the scheme, and to draw up a public, trackable plan to prevent further occurrences.
Peggy Noonan wrote in the Journal recently that the most devout Catholics are the most upset about this. I believe that. She also said that they are no longer willing to take their leaders’ word that things will pass. I believe that, too. But dammit, no one is doing anything. “Wishing the Pope had said more” is not doing anything. Expressing anger or shame or whatever is not doing anything. Exposing and firing the Bishops who shuttled these priests around and covered it up is doing something. Refusing to make donations until a complete accounting is made is doing something.
This thing is causing pain far beyond the Church. I’m sorry that I contributed to it.