Recently, a friend of mine asked in earnest, without a hint of judgment or sarcasm, why I was still Catholic.
Although I have often faced challenges to my faith, I agree that these days it is a particularly good question. And in the spirit of open, vulnerable dialogue, I’ve decided to share my answer with you.
There is not one Catholic (that is a true Catholic) who is not horrified, deeply hurt, and angry with the latest news regarding clerical sexual abuse and cover-up within the Church…
I cannot imagine the pain – and yet, like many of you, I hurt for what has happened. I’ll admit, I even have a certain degree of cynicism at times because of this.
But here’s the thing: I can’t help change things in my Church if I leave my Church.
Now, I’m not saying change comes easy for the Catholic Church. That is one of its sometimes charming, many times frustrating traits. However, one thing is for sure: as followers of Jesus, we know we must always stand for the victims and the vulnerable – NOT abusers and those who hide abuse.
I also know that the Catholic Church is a faith family – not merely an institution.
So, I choose to stay.
I choose to stay with my family to protect them and form part of the solution. To give a voice to the victims. So I can speak up when I see any possibility for abuse. I remain with those who are good pastors and Catholics. With those who inspire me to do better, and demand better from our leaders.
Now that the light has shone through the crevices of darkness, I find hope that justice will prevail, along with a much-needed cleanse. I find solace in the Pope and the leaders who will have no tolerance for perpetrators and enablers…
No one has to be a victim at the hands of our pastors ever again. And people like me, who stay, will fight to make that true.
“…The Church does not depend, ultimately on institutions. We are not fighting primarily for that aspect of the Church’s life. We are fighting for the victims of these terrible crimes. We are fighting for people who were sexually assaulted, sexually abused. If we cut and run precisely at this challenging time, who will be the prophetic voice on behalf of these victims?”
– Bishop Robert Barron