This post is about a topic that I've found myself wanting to avoid. It's about scandals that no one wants to talk about. And it is precisely for that reason that I want to have a conversation about it. We can't let fear hold us back from the truth. We can't let the desire to be comfortable keep us from pursuing justice.
To stay updated with Catholic news for my freelance work, I've set up alerts to deliver top articles and breaking news directly to my inbox. I start off each workday by pouring myself a cup of coffee and going through the headlines.
My heart is broken every morning when I sit down to sift through each day's articles. First we heard of the scandals surrounding then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. It was a scandal that was different than any we'd processed before. Despite allegations, McCarrick continued to rise through the ranks of the Church's hierarchy. Not only that, but McCarrick was the public face for the Church's response to the sex abuse scandals of the early 2000s.
Today, the Pennsylvania grand jury accused over 300 priests of abuse and bishops of covering up the scandals. The jury's report amounts to 1,356 pages of evidence and details about the levels of abuse that occurred in six Pennsylvania dioceses. I'm 7 pages in and I'm sick to my stomach.
The report is full of instances of men not acting as priests of God, but instead as predators and abusers.
"There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church," the report reads. "But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: It happened everywhere."
So many questions flood our minds as we read headline after headline and hear story after story.
"Who knew about this?"
"When did they know about it?"
"Why didn't anyone do anything?"
"How did this happen?"
"When will this stop?"
"What can we do?"
It's easy to delete the e-mails from my inbox that carry with them the news of more scandal. It's tempting to bury our heads in the sand and come up for breath when the worst is over.
We can't do that anymore.
We can't avoid this brokenness or turn a blind eye at risk of this deep wound becoming more and more decayed.
"We are going to name their names, and describe what they did - both the sex offenders and those who concealed them," the recent report from the grand jury in Pennsylvania reads. "We are going to shine a light on their conduct, because that is what the victims deserve. And we are going to make our recommendations for how the laws should change so that maybe no one will have to conduct another inquiry like this one."
Our response as Catholics to this latest scandal cannot simply involve reading opinions and news articles about the subject. We must respond and cry out for healing. Yes, our God is merciful, but He is also a God of justice. We must commit to change - even if we're not quite sure what our role will look like yet.
Don't rot in silence. Don't settle. Don't retreat. Cry out. Demand justice.
Brick House in the City recently shared a quote from Saint Catherine of Siena that sums up everything on my heart recently: "We've had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues. I see the world is rotten because of silence."