*originally posted at This Earth, Feb 11/2013
It wasn’t 10 years ago that I was a likely candidate to join the Catholic Church. For many years my own faith leaned towards the liturgical, rite-oriented worship that seemed most embodied in Catholicism. And I tried hard to work it out and become a full-fledged member of the faithful. I attended Mass with a certain regularity, until 2006 or so, even after I had lost any semblance of Christianity. I loved the Church, Mary, the martyrs, the nuns, the saints. Actually I still hold all that dear to my heart. I care greatly for religion and Christ, and cannot separate who I am now from the time in my life in which religion was paramount.
Two of the greatest intellectual and spiritual influences on my life have been Catholics who struggled mightily to maintain their faith in the Church. They are Sinead O’Connor and Thomas Merton. Their intellectual efforts and spiritual guidance has made me the person I am, and I still regularly seek out their work as help in making sense of the world. I do this despite my own rejection of their Church, because their endeavor to stick with this thing despite knowing what it is capable of deserves admiration.
They struggled to make sense of the world as Catholics, and they came out at odds. Merton supplicated himself before his Pope while O’Connor tore her Pope apart on live television. Somewhere in that chasm is a recipe for Catholics to grasp their Church out of the clutches of those who would continue on evil’s path. As a non-religious, humanist, using the word evil at all feels ridiculous. But for some things, there is no other word.
It’s no longer possible for me to make sense of the world through the lens of Christ and church and god. I have no ill will towards any who do, other than to say: it just no longer makes sense to me. Likewise, I am lost these days on theology: conservative, progressive, liberationist, it isn’t for me to worry about such distinctions and I don’t care. What I care about is how one answers this question: What did you do in response to a massive, endemic, global network of rapists who were using the Church as a weapon to find children to abuse and rape?
For a long, long time now, the Church’s reply to such a query has been sadly wanting.
There are a whole host of reasons that the Catholic Church is in trouble, and I’ve got little insight into them. Frankly, I don’t give a shit about them. What I care about is the institutional cover-up of rapists. I know I’m ranting. I know I just wrote about this last week and have no new unique insight to add. And I know that there is Catholic outrage enough to fill the world’s blogs, Catholics who are working every day to see the end of the evil in its own body. Still.
Today Pope Benedict resigned. Once again the Church will find an opportunity to slowly start righting the ship, a ship that has sailed far, far, far afield of its purpose to represent Christ on Earth. And once again, I’m afraid, such an opportunity will pass unseized.