This has been a very troubling summer for Catholics, particularly those of us in the Northeastern US: We’ve had to watch a trusted and beloved Cardinal and bishop taken down for his atrocious behavior with young boys and seminarians (I can’t even bring myself to type out his name); and are watching another pedophile scandal unfold in Pennsylvania, where the Diocese of Harrisburg has released the names of hundreds of priests credibly accused of molesting children. Hundreds. Hadn’t we already gone through this, years ago? How could we think it was all over? I wish I could ignore all this, and sit in my little monastic-cell office and keep churning out my faith-based books, but it’s impossible to ignore....
I’ve written a biography of a priest, for goodness sake. I checked his background rigorously as possible, always terrified I would find something that would halt the project in its tracks. And I would have halted it. I won’t make any apologies or defense for a bad priest. Publishing any kind of book is always a risk of some sort; I will simply have to continue to trust in my subject and hope that trust isn’t misplaced. I feel pretty confident nothing will emerge and moreover, feel compelled to push forward. While I don’t condemn the media and press for bringing such matters to light, there needs to be equal time for good and decent men. And perhaps this is the time for my story, after all, to show that most priests are probably good angels, and not Lucifers.
Still, I hate that all this is coming out at this particular moment, yet I know it needs to. The news media has been doing its part, even if it seems excessive and unrelenting. It’s like pouring hydrogen peroxide on a pus-ridden wound to clean it out completely. It hurts like hell, but absolutely needs to be done: It all has to be be made public, put out there in the open. Doesn’t matter how long you were a cardinal, or whatever good you did the Church. We have to know. NO more cover-up.
I have a lot of issues with my church, some of which I’m trying to work out in my fictional work. I haven’t left yet, because I still see a lot of good there, but something needs to happen, and soon. This may be where the church is finally forced to consider the ordination of women and married people to the priesthood, to widen the candidate pool for truly good priests and pastors. In any case, the future of the Church surely lies with its “sheep,” its laity, who until now have remained largely faithful and loyal, despite the indignities and sorrows thrust upon us all in recent times. There needs to be less distance, between priests and people; less intimidation from the former, less silent acceptance from the latter.