The following is an excerpt from my article “Why Am I Still A Catholic?” which appears in the October 2019 issue of St. Anthony Messenger
When the movie Spotlight came out, I was overwhelmed with emotion when I saw my two homes — Scranton Pennsylvania and El Paso Texas — listed at the end as cities with confirmed incidents of clergy abuse. I thought of survivors I had evaluated and counseled, especially one young man who had been molested by a priest mentioned in the movie. After that film, I again struggled with why I remain Catholic as I saw just how massive that crisis had been both in the United States and internationally.
After the Pennsylvania report (on clergy abuse) I had some hope for a new, more honest response from the Church. But I also have a fear based on something a victim told me. Although as a boy he had been abused by a priest, this man served the Church in many meaningful ways. One night he sat in a committee meeting in his parish. When the topic of the clergy abuse crisis came up, one woman said “This crisis is only a small blip in the Church’s history. The Church will survive.”
My fear is that many Catholics will proceed under the assumption — the evil assumption — that the crisis will pass and nothing really major needs to change.
And yet I am still Catholic. Why? I am still Catholic because I believe in Jesus’ message. His way is a path to live out the message that love can overcome all and that we are all here to take care of one another. But I also agree with Wendell Berry when he writes in Blesses Are the Peacemakers that Christianity has become fashionable in the United States but in fact “has remarkably little to do with things that Jesus Christ actually taught.”
Further information: If you are interested in receiving the entire article send me your e-mail address for an electronic copy of the article or mailing address for a hard copy. My e-mail address is <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Catholic Church will survive if there is a core group of dedicated people like Dr. Patterson to ensure that it does. As for whether the sex abuse scandal is a “blip” it rather depends on whether the speaker has been abused. The Church, just as individuals, must recognize the Dark side or it will continue to wreak havoc.