Safe miracles

My thoughts on the scandals as a convert to Catholicism


iStock 000010993706XSmall Safe miraclesWhen I was first exploring Christianity, I was enchanted with the idea of Jesus walking among us and performing miracles. I’d come to an intellectual acceptance of the concept that miracles could happen, so it was exciting to hear about instances where they supposedly had! The more my research led me to conclude that Jesus really was who he said he was, the more delightful it was to transport myself back to those times long ago, and imagine the wonder and appreciation the gathered crowds must have felt.

When my studies started leading me to the Catholic Church, though, things got a little weird. Here was this institution that claimed that God guided it to this day. They were basically saying: “You know how God used those fallible people to write the perfect Word of the Bible? Yeah, well, he’s still doing that. Right now. Like, you know how Pope Benedict released that encyclical Caritas in Veritate? Divinely guided. God even uses your local parish priest to work the miracle of Christ’s flesh and blood made physically present under the appearance of bread and wine.”

Let me just tell you: this was a daunting claim for a lifelong atheist.

The more I researched the history of Christianity and came to understand what the Church actually teaches, the more I was astounded by what I’d found. Slowly, hesitantly, I became convinced that this is true: that, before Jesus ascended into heaven, he founded an institution that he still guides in its doctrines to this day, using it to articulate the truth in all places and times, working through it to give us the sacraments.

Yet even after I fully believed it, it was hard to feel comfortable with it. It was oddly painful to see these miracles playing out every day, right out in the open; it was slightly unnerving to see the Church boldly claim that it has the power to verify apparitions and visions, to speak on matters of doctrine on behalf of God almighty — even though I believed it was true.

One time I saw footage of the celebration of the elevation of Fr. Damien of Molokai to sainthood. Tens of thousands of people were gathered in St. Peter’s Square for a glorious celebration of the great victory of a life fully devoted to the Lord, the Vatican having approved a final miracle attributed to Fr. Damien’s posthumous prayers…and my first reaction was to want to jump behind the couch. I wanted to call someone in the Vatican and whisper, “Shhh! Let’s not push our luck!” Along with the thrill of seeing God’s own hand at work in the modern world was the unsettling realization: he’s doing it through imperfect people.

I realized then that I prefer my miracles far away and long ago; because if God is still working wonders, and doing it in conjunction with a recognizable institution comprised of normal humans with free will, then that carries with it certain implications.

And those implications, and all the terrifying possibilities they contain, have been dragged out into the light in the wake of the latest scandals in the Church. What is more terrifying that realizing that your own pastor could hurt you, and others, so badly?

As I follow the current news coverage about the Catholic Church, I think back, maybe a little wistfully, to those first days that I was exploring Christianity, back when my miracles were safe. Nobody ran background checks on all the members of the Council of Nicea. The delegates to the Synods of Hippo and Carthage, who decided which writings would be included in the New Testament, were faceless, holy figures floating around in the ether of my ignorance about the personal lives of people in the 4th Century.

Back then, I could keep the world in two neat boxes: God over here, evil over there. People who are involved with miracles in the first box, people who are sinful and capable of doing terrible things in the second box.

But what I found when I kept pursuing truth, regardless of how I felt about it, was that there is only one box. To understand that, to accept that, is to be slapped with a chilling, daunting fact: God is here, he’s among us, and he lets evil happen, right next to his side. And, unfortunately, the Catholic Church gives us a reminder of that most uncomfortable of truths that we want so badly to forget.

When evil happens in other areas of society, it’s easy to compartmentalize it all, to tell myself that God wasn’t “there.” When a court-appointed advocate for neglected and abused children here in Austin turned out to be a serial pedophile who was taking kids as young as two years old to his home and sexually assaulting them, it gave me some measure of relief to think of God as not being anywhere near that situation. When I heard about the monstrous pediatrician who got over 100 babies and toddlers away from their parents and violently assaulted them in every possible way, I tried to shove it into the “non-God” part of my brain. God is in the respectable churches, maybe out among some nice ladies having a prayer breakfast. But not in the court-appointed volunteer’s basement. Not in that pediatrician’s exam room.

But when evil in its most despicable form finds its way into God’s own Church, you can no longer deny it:

He saw it. He was there. And he let it happen. God is merciful and just. I believe that, and I trust Him. And I believe that one day I will understand. But, today, the fact remains: God and evil co-exist.

On a percentage basis, sexual abuse in the Church is no more common than in other institutions where men are in contact with children. Yet even one instance is too much. Even if only one priest abused one child, it would be a horror of epic proportions; even more so because it happened in the Church.

As I watch the news coverage of the scandals, I see a mix of things: I see long-overdue airing of grave problems within the Church that need to be addressed; I see righteous outrage at this most despicable of human acts; I see understandable shock that there have been members of the hierarchy who covered up abuse or didn’t do enough to stop it. But I also see that the Church has become a special target for the world’s scorn. Mixed in with quality journalism aimed at getting the facts out in the open, I’ve seen a desire among some people in the media to make the Church look as bad as possible, even at the expense of setting aside fact-based journalistic integrity.

I’m sure there are a lot of reasons for that, but I think that one of them is rooted in a feeling with which I am familiar, a gut-level nervousness at what this institution claims to be. What I think I see in a lot of discussions of this scandal is this: a frantic drive to discredit this institution that claims to be divinely guided; in other words, to take God out of the picture. Because if he is there with this institution, if the same priest who abused disabled children also once had the power to make Jesus Christ’s own flesh fully present in the form of bread, if the bishops who have mishandled or covered up these cases of abuse really are the direct descendants of the original men upon whom Jesus conferred his power, then we’re standing in the face of the most unnerving truth of all.

The biggest thing I had to overcome when I entered the Roman Catholic Church after a life of atheism was that desperate desire for safe miracles. To accept the truth that I found here in this Church was to let go of the illusion of those two boxes — God and miracles over here, evil and sin over there — and accept that there is only one box.

This latest turn of events has only been a reminder of the age-old mystery that I wrestled with for so long, that humans have been wrestling with for the past two thousand years: that God exists, and even came down to walk among us, and yet he did not stop the suffering. He didn’t take away a single person’s free will — not even those whom he guides to speak on his behalf — and did not exempt one person from the potential to experience the worst kind of suffering. Not innocent children. Not even his own beloved Son. The way he dealt with suffering was to plunge himself into the heart of it, to come down and suffer with us, and for us. Nothing more. Nothing less.

What I’ve found is that, if you can muster up the courage to face that truth head-on, to accept it with all its weight, and resist the urge to run away, it is there that you will encounter Christ. You’ll discover truths that are impossible to put into words about the nature of God’s love for us, and the “severe mercy” that comes with it. You’ll find the God who is there while unspeakable evil plays out in our world; and you’ll encounter his crucified Son, who is always there too.

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Enter the Conversation...

68 Responses to “Safe miracles”
  1. Em. says:

    Maybe the "letting suffering happen" part is because He needs the 'arms and legs of Christ' (ie, the believing public) to put a stop to it. He can motivate and inspire and guide, but let's face it, He hasn't been showing up to stand between good and evil and physically bar the way.

    That's our job.

  2. newmaldon says:

    Jenn – Thank you for that powerful, powerful article. All too often we (Protestants, Catholics, etc.) forget that Christ's death has not freed us from suffering, but has allowed us to experience the final reward of God's grace. Until that time, well, we're still living in a broken world. Thank you again – that post brought that thought to life in a way that is all too often forgotten.

  3. Fr. Dan says:

    Thank you Jennifer.

  4. What Dan Makes says:

    I think you put it all just right, Jen–beautifully expressed. Thanks! -Dan L.

  5. Pilgrim says:

    Great post. I always have to remind myself that God allows these things to happen. We can't understand why and that is the most difficult thing to accept. Many see the difficulties that the Church faces as a sign that God is not leading it but I'm convinced that he is: that's why he wants to expose the filth and to purify what is his. A painful lesson but hopefully one that will lead many to prayer and conversion of heart.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Wow.
    You are right, of course. The media really wants to "bring down" those that they see as "high & mighty". They especially want to prove that the Holy Father is not what the Church believes him to be.
    (I started to go on a bit, but I think I'll stop now). I think your observations are right on target.
    Blessings of Easter to you & yours!
    He IS Risen, Alleluia!

  7. Eric says:

    Oh, well said! We want a God who will take us out of our suffering; instead we get one who is with us in our suffering. I think it works out to a net gain.

  8. Young Mom says:

    Thank you.

  9. Stacey says:

    The two most common reason I hear for people to reject God and the Church are that they don't believe a good God would allow suffering and people who believe in God are screwed up. I love your insights here, especially that we want to believe God is far away from evil, and I would love to hear more of your thoughts on the subject of suffering in general. It's a hard thing for me, and many, to obediently accept the sufferings we are given as God's will, and unite ourselves with Christ on the cross through them.

    The best explanations that I've heard are from Aquinas, of course. He said that people do evil because they are free to choose it, and God doesn't just not create people He foreknew would do evil because He perfects our free natures in a process of cooperation rather than destroying that freedom by only creating "good people. Of course, none of us are really good, so where would that line be?

    Anyway, I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on this.

  10. Spence Ohana says:

    That was so well written and on the nose. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  11. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for writing this. I find it very useful and valuable. You really locate the heart of the matter.

  12. George @ Convert Journal says:

    Excellent post and wonderful perspective.

    I have been thinking how to explain this too, but keep getting muddled in the voluminous facts and anger at the media.

    The Church has never had a force field around it to keep out evil. Priests do not become perfect by ordination. These things were not promised, only that the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail.

  13. V says:

    One thing to note is that God "lets evil happen" just as he lets "good happen" or lets "peace happen" "justice happen".
    Its the free will of mankind that lifts us up, and drags us down.

    I think of the evils that have occurred in my life and I know that the faith I have is because of them. While my childhood was far from "ideal", I know that my salvation is coming out of the pain. I also feel that , just maybe, the man who physically abused me gets to go to heaven for bringing me closer to God. He was my Andrew.

  14. Tienne says:

    Beautiful post, Jen! I think your explanation for the inordinate amount of negative attention the Church gets is spot on. The other contributing factor, I think, is that we have a leadership that is both visible and organized. If a lone pastor of a Protestant church is indicted for sexually molesting children, or even as you describe, a pediatrician, the media doesn't jump all over the AMA or the UMC for their complicity. But the Church has a head, and he is, unfortunately, a nice, easy target. John Allen has written a marvelous essay defending Joseph Ratzinger's efforts to halt future abuse. Michael Hallman posted it a few weeks ago: http://psalm46-11.blogspot.com/2010/03/conversion-of-pope.html

  15. fumblingtowardgrace says:

    beautiful. terrifying. just like our God. Thank you for writing this.

  16. SM says:

    Hi Jen,
    Thanks for taking the time to address this issue.
    From what I gather from reading your blog, you view the Catholic Church as a "truth telling thing"; an institution that God speaks directly through. My assumption is that the laws/rules set by the church and its practices therefore are from God, perfect and holy. The people who try to live out these standards are sinners and imperfect, but the laws themselves are exactly as God intends. Is that correct? ( I dont have a lot of experience with the catholic church, so most of my information comes from your blog) I think this poses the question then 'can the church as a whole commit a sin?'
    I agree that for a priest to molest a child is the free-will decision of that priest and as a fellow sinner he was never expected to be perfect; he sinned and will deal with the consequences. But if the Church as an organization decided to ignore or cover up the infraction, can we still blame the imperfect sinful people? At what point do we begin to look at the organization as a whole? Is there ever a point when the Church decides to re-evaluate the current practices and ask if maybe something went wrong?

  17. Sir. Aaron Lee says:

    "Even if only one priest abused one child, it would be a horror of epic proportions; even more so because it happened in the Church."

    I totally agree with you on this phrase.As Catholic church become the center of the Christian faith in this world, 'secular' people tend to make unintelligent accuses towards the Church. Were people making their own standards? Were people have rights to judge? Definitely there must be some black sheep in every fields.Why? Can I say due to human weaknesses? Yes!

  18. red pen mama says:

    What a clear-headed way of explaining the difficult contradiction of our faith and the fallibility of humans. Thank you.

    (this link was left in the comments on Her Bad Mother.)

  19. Ray Ingles says:

    God exists, and even came down to walk among us, and yet he did not stop the suffering. He didn't take away a single person's free will…

    Does blocking someone from successfully carrying out an action take away someone's free will? If you see someone about to shoot a child, and you knock the gun out of their hand, have you taken away the free will of the would-be shooter?

  20. Maggie Dee says:

    Timely post! I was thinking about this very thing this morning. I know someone in our parish who was in a Catholic orphanage and the nuns were very cruel. I was trying to reconcile how someone who had dedicated themselves to serving God could at the same time be cruel like the orphanage nuns. It is something I wrestle with as a Christian that God is right there in the midst of evil.

    I know that we can't really be free to worship God without our free will but at the same time free will can bring about indescribable evil. I guess there are some things that I just won't fully understand this side of heaven.

  21. Nichole@40daysof says:

    Thanks for your perspective. I know many converts and I always wonder what they are thinking when scandal arises.

  22. Emily says:

    This was beautiful and well written. Thank you for sending this message out.

  23. WhiteStone says:

    Better for a millstone to be placed around the neck than to abuse a child. God help us. Wicked and evil abounds.

  24. Rebecca says:

    What a powerful post – thank you for addressing such a relevant topic. It has provided some food for thought.

    I have been following you for almost a year now and your blog has started me down the path toward returning to the Church.

    Keep up the good work! I appreciate the time and energy you give to all of us internets out here!

  25. Tom says:

    I was confirmed last Saturday, so for the entire length of my RCIA journey, the Church’s child-abuse issue was getting a lot of media coverage. That made becoming Roman Catholic more attractive to me.

    Long before I gave the first thought to joining the Church, I knew its management and membership contained elements of selfishness, ignorance, dishonesty, pettiness, greed, materialism, laziness, and general corruption. How did I know that? Because it’s an organization operated by humans. As a student of management most of my life – I’m close to 60 years old – I’ve become fairly expert at spotting the ways organizations succumb to human frailties and therefore become less efficient and effective than they could otherwise be; they all do it to one degree or another, no matter how hard they try not to. They try a lot harder to achieve excellence when held accountable by either internal or external stakeholders, though, and I’d found the Church at a time when it was taking responsibility for what Pope Benedict had called “filth” in the Church when he was still a Cardinal. Believe me, all churches, secular schools-of-thought, and commercial organizations contain plenty of human “filth.” I’ve just joined one that is highly motivated to rid itself of at least some of the “filth” it’s accumulated. That’s a good thing. And rare.

  26. Wendy C. says:

    Thank you for so eloquently expressing how I can still love this Church filled with flawed people and how it still is the place Christ is present and working despite attacks from outside and sins from inside.

  27. Miłość says:

    Wow.

    First, I'm really happy you're posting again :)

    Secondly, this is a really great post, and I think it's something I needed to hear right now.

  28. LP says:

    Jen, thank you for a beautiful and difficult reflection. I wish I could take time to click on all your links. One of the hardest things for me right now is on one hand, wanting to hear what is happenening/being said in the media, since, after all, that is what the majority of the rest of the world is hearing, and knowing that questions will arise and my heart wants to have something charitable and faith-filled to say, but on the other hand, wanting to console the hurting heart of Christ and tune out the stuff that is just plain old rabid anti-Church/anti-Catholic railing, and deliberate exclusion of some key facts and context. (I'm thinking of the repeated mispresentation of the intent of "secrecy" in the official documents, which I understand to be a protection of victims/potentially innocent accused.) Lately I've turned the radio off more than a few times. At the same time, I know that like you said, for one who has truly been harmed in this way, this is a tragedy of epic proportions, and any denial of grief for them or us as members of Christ's body is an offense as well. Thanks for casting light on some of the difficulty that the majority of society might be facing, that I can better find it in my heart to pray for those who seemingly persecute me/my Church.

    And thanks for your Lenten/Easter reflection, too! My Lenten lesson also was a bit different at the end than I anticipated it would be at the beginning! God bless you.

  29. Bethany Hudson says:

    Beautiful, Jen. Thank you for this.

  30. Rachel Gray says:

    THANK YOU! You put your finger on what I've been thinking too (though not nearly so articulately.)

  31. Marigold says:

    I once read a book by a concentration camp survivor which described the inmates having to watch the execution by hanging of one of their fellows. As the man condemned to die went up to the gallows, someone in the crowd called out, 'Christ, Christ, where are you now?' And someone else replied, 'He is right up there, suffering and dying with him.'

    My spiritual father, when we were having a discussion about the nature of evil, said that in order to be able to love freely, we also have to be able to hate freely. That has stayed with me ever since.

    Christ is risen!

  32. Multiple Mom T says:

    This is where being a protestant is so difficult when reading about Catholicism. We don't believe in transubstantiation–the bread and wine were a symbol. We don't believe in the church hierarchy being descended from the original apostles (hope I said that right–I've never even heard of it).

    We hold more to 1 Peter 2:9 "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."…that all men can come directly to God without any intermediary.

    One thing you mentioned about the church being the target of the world's scorn. By our very name as Christians, we are saying we are "Christ like". The world looks on, having somewhat of an idea of what Christ was like, and these priests doing something so UN-Christlike, that I actually understand their derision. I don't know whether the men who did these things were true believers–I'm not naive enough to believe that just because one becomes a Christian then earthly struggles (even pedophilia) magically disappear–or just trying to get to a place where 1) their desires would be more easily controlled or 2) they would have easier access to prey. Any of the above could be true.

    I hope this makes the Catholic church as a whole look at the forced celibacy issue. While Paul said, sure, it's really nice to be single so you can devote your everything to God, but he also said, hey, getting married is ok, too. I have known MANY godly pastors who loved and served the Lord wholeheartedly and all were married. Why is this such an issue with the Catholic church? Even Peter, "upon this rock I will build the church" was married. I'm not trying to be argumentative–I hope it doesn't come across that way. I just have a lot of questions about Catholicism, I guess!

  33. Nzie (theRosyGardener) says:

    I love this post, Jen- you hit it just right, really- best thing I've seen on this. Thank you for writing and posting it- it needed to be said and it needs to be read.

  34. GrandmaK says:

    Excellent post! I am reminded when I, too, want to run away, what Jesus asked Peter when many left him, "Will you leave me too?" Peter said, "And where will I go?" I too, would think I would reply the same. There is no other church for me that offers the true reality of the Resurrection and all that we are called to be by the Gospels. Thank you soooo much! Cathy

  35. LazyBones says:

    Wow. That was wonderful. A very powerful post.

  36. Luke says:

    Good thoughts. Very interesting perspective on all this, and one that hadn't crossed my mind because, well, I guess I was just boxing things up in my head [smile].

    ~Luke

  37. Thrifty Mystics says:

    We joined the Church at the Easter vigil in 2002, after another round of publicized Church scandals. Needless to say, the scandals made our conversion even more inexplicable to our non-Catholic families. The Graham Greene novel, "The Power and the Glory" helped put things in perspective. It describes the life of a "whiskey priest" trying to survive during the anticlericalism of the Mexican Revolution. The priest sees himself as a fraud until his death. Then he understands the true nature of the priesthood as a channel of God's grace (in spite of the priest sometimes). I also think about Mel Gibson, a tormented soul capable of creating "The Passion of the Christ." Heck, I think about myself- moments of startling clarity followed by complete spiritual amnesia.

  38. Kate says:

    Nice post. I think we sometimes think or want God to be someone He is not. We want life to be fair but it's not and God didn't say it was going to be, so we shouldn't hold Him accountable for that.

  39. Roxane B. Salonen says:

    Jennifer, I think this one will go down as one of your best-read posts, or a favorite post, or whatever. I always appreciate your perspective, all the more so on something of this magnitude. Thank you for so eloquently expressing the deeper side of the story that few would enter on their own. You've led us to an illuminating place that I have sensed but not been able to articulate. Once again, I feel the Holy Spirit working powerfully within you! Well done.

    Roxane

  40. confused homemaker says:

    Thank you for this post Jen. You put into words what I have tried to for so long.

  41. deb says:

    Thank you for this post, Jennifer.

  42. Suburban Correspondent says:

    I liked this post; but I still think you are confusing two issues. Yes, some of the critics are calling the Church hypocritical because members of the Church have sinned, and that of course is silly. We are all sinners. But other critics have a good point: when a priest sins, the Church, as an institution, has the responsibility to address the situation and not cover it up. That is the real problem, not the sin itself. To lump both types of criticism together as being anti-Catholic is incorrect. The first is anti-Catholic, looking for any excuse to take down the Church and what it stands for. The second group know what the Church stands for and are justly disappointed that it did not do the right thing in the face of this controversy. As my husband commented, "It looks like the Church is emphasizing Reconciliation at the expense of Responsibility."

    The Church needs to fully own this problem (out loud, in public) to win back the respect of some of its faithful. If It is what It says It is, there's no reason for It to be scared to do so.

  43. G says:

    Jen, Through all this horrible scandal, I've had people in my family & in the diocese come up to me & say things like,"See…the Church isn't so good after all.."
    And others have spoken of leaving the Church bc of all this mess.

    My thought is: WHAT did you expect? WHAT did you sign up for? We're following Jesus who was crucified so, yup, this is all part of it! So the picture you attached to this post is very appropos.

  44. Elizabeth Mahlou says:

    Excellent post, Jen. Love your insights. I would point out, though, that there never were safe miracles. People in the "old" days were every bit as sinful as people today, and back then God also chose sinful people and little people to do His work. Thank God for that. It means that there is hope for all of us.

  45. Jessica says:

    Jen, God bless you for your excellent and thoughtful post.

    One quick note – Christ was not assumed into Heaven. Rather, He ascended. :-)

  46. Brian says:

    Well reasoned and heart-felt post…. thank you!

  47. Amy Giglio says:

    I think that there are a lot of parallels between what's going on now and the corruption of the church that sparked the Reformation. And, if our fathers will embrace the opportunity for purification, the Church can become even stronger.

  48. Rosita says:

    Thank you.

  49. Maggie Dee says:

    In regards to the whole celibacy issue that creeps into the discussion regarding this horrible pedophilia scandal, the priests involved have a disordered sexuality. Allowing them to marry would not solve that problem. In fact, all it would do is give them the opportunity to breed their own victims. If celibacy were the issue, then there would be a scandal involving priests going to strip clubs or prostitutes or having affairs with adults. Being allowed to marry and have sexual relations is not going to "cure" someone of their tendancy to want to interact sexually with children.

  50. Sibyl says:

    56% of sexual abuse occurs in the home, the rest is divided between school, church, groups like scouts and extra curricular sports teams, like Y.

    The 'sex-ed' (alias propaganda) class materials being promoted in secular schools and by some school counselors, is abuse, unhealthy, irresponsible and false.

  51. Anonymous says:

    You have written a powerfully moving comment on the present scandals and the problem of incomprehensible evil.
    May it bring a measure of peace to all who read it.

    Thank you.

  52. Kathryn says:

    This post reminds me of a powerful quote that I adore:

    "Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it, but I'm afraid God would ask me the same question."

  53. Jess says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  54. Destry says:

    Suburban Correspondent, I agree 100% with what you said.

  55. Stefanie says:

    Calm and much-needed words in the midst of our anguish, Jen.
    I thank you.

    I have been praying the St. Michael novenna for two weeks, every night before I go to bed. It has truly helped me control my anger.
    Every time I hear or read another 'bashing' meant for our Church or for our beloved Benedict XVI,instead of my usual complaining, I just lift my head towards heaven, pump my fist in the air and say, "St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!"

    Stefanie

  56. Anonymous says:

    The U.S. media coverage of the scandal rocking the church is a view through a small window– they see what they want to see and don't go inside for the full picture, and this narrow vision is what's projected to the world. The coverage is almost another guilty party in the scandal. It's helping to discredit the church and advance the agenda of the people who did the victimizing– to tell the world that the Church isn't holy. There is a problem, but I believe it's rooted in some of the seminaries. There have been accounts by credible Catholics of people being placed in charge at some seminaries whose views on key moral issues differ gravely from the Church's teaching. They, in turn, select and groom the seminary candidates to go along with these erroneous opinions, and this breeds unhealthy conditions and dangerous lifestyles. Candidates who aren't easily brought into this pattern of behavior are encouraged to leave, that their old-fashioned opinions have no place there. For them, the road to ordination becomes much more difficult. And when this happens, the Church loses holy men who would make excellent teachers and guardians of the Faith, and instead "gains" men who don't strive to learn about, live, and pass on the Truth, but who instead believe that it is their duty to push an agenda that is radically in conflict with the Faith they once sought. You'll hear in the media that maybe the church should be brought into the 21st century, maybe it's time to look at ways for it to modernize. That's the agenda of those involved in perpetrating this cycle of behavior that shows itself in the sexual mistreatment of others: to change the Church. Don't listen to the secular reports. Watch EWTN. Pray for the seminaries, that the pattern ends. Pray for the victims of the abuse. But most of all in this Year for Priests, pray for the seminary candidates, that they may find their time of study and discernment to be a holy and fruitful time.

  57. Dean says:

    Before I became a Catholic,I said during the first reports of child abuse in the late 90's that this was the time to become a Catholic rather than to cease being one.

    It was that the world hated and hates this Church so. When the Body is wounded, we need to be there in communion.
    I think what is missing in the current outrage is the dates. The secular media is going over again and again what happened then. The Catholic Church today is far different and has done more to correct this kind of abuse than any institution in the land or in the world.

    But that is left out.

    This Pope is wonderful and nobody who has read his writings could ever think he would protect the Church over the children. Every report has clouded the facts, distorted the facts, or ignored the facts with anti-Catholic hate. Read each word with care and look for the fact beneath the outrage. There is so little "there" there.

    Some priests in the Church did horrible things. They betrayed Christ, committed horrible sins and violated the trust of children and the faithful alike.

    But today when I read reports of what happened back then,I think of the wonderful priests I know today.

    How this must hurt them.

    For every bad one back the there are hundreds and hundreds of Christ-centered priests today.

    So when I read about then, I think of now. And I am filled with love for this Church.I pray for the Pope and all priests and I thank God for Benedict and all good priests.

    Geeorge Weigel reminds us that in the 1990'sthere were 290,000 cases of child abuse in public schools in the USA and most abuse happens in families. But it is only the Catholic Church then that is the object of hate and outrage today.

    We need to keep all this in perspective, trust God, and pray for this beautiful Church–for there really is nothing more beautiful on earth.

    Dean in Wisconsin

  58. Colleen says:

    Thank you. Well done. I am an incest survivor and will have to post on this soon. By the way, Suburban Correspondent's comment hit the nail on the head. God bless.

  59. chantal says:

    Wow I just found your blog. You write and explain everything very well.

    Regardingn the scandals, they don't faze. The Catholic Church has stood 2000 years of dealing with human nature. It will survive these scandals also.

    Let's expose these scandals, they needd to be purged from the church. Somehow the discernment of 7-9 years towards the priesthood wasn't done properly. After these scandals have been exposed, examined,ect, the Church will have fewer, but truer, humbler and holier priest. The Church will know how to truly discern its priests.

    After all what kind of young man would want to become a priest after all this? Only holy, prayerful men, wanting to sacrifice all for God.

    Regarding the scandal here are some thoughts

    Celibacy is not the issue.

    Most happen before 1980 when they was a different way of preparing priests and a different mentality. So some young men were not meantto be priests.

    There seems to be an issue that many of these priests had homosexual tendencies. Many of the victims were adolescent boys.

    There is a relationship between homosexuality and pedofiles.

  60. Anonymous says:

    I have come to the conclusion that everyday cradle Catholics such as myself will be converting to the Episcopal Church in droves, and all that will be left are the crazy reactionary teabagger converts, like the lady above who equates homosexuality with pedophiles (though she can't spell, which gives an indication of the collective intelligence level).

    Good riddance to all of you.

  61. Aimee says:

    Anonymous "cradle Catholics" who use the homophobic term "teabagging" and imagine an idyllic existence in the Episcopalian church (which by the way, is having members flee "in droves" to become Catholics)? LOL, I smell a troll. Excellent post, Jennifer, BTW.

  62. J. R. P. says:

    Jennifer – flawless post.

    As a guy looking, if you weren't already married, I would have offered. Your husband is blessed, indeed.

    (Lord, send me a girl like this one. Kthxbai. I mean, amen.)

  63. Deeper Truth says:

    I simply must have you on my blogtalkradio show.

    Your story is amazing.

    Email me deeprtruth@comcast.net
    or twitter me at twitter.com/deepertruthblog

  64. I revisited this post today after reading more news on this issue. You say what I wish I was articulate enough to express. Your post has really brought me some peace on this issue. I pray the Church can find a way to stop these evil acts.
    Elizabeth@GoodnessAdded recently posted..Friday Quick Takes 10

  65. Claudia says:

    First of all please let me begin by telling you how awesome your blog is! I happened to notice in this post you you wrote, “…when I entered the Roman Catholic Church after a life of atheism…” All throughout your blog, including your post with the audio version of your conversion, you state that you are orthodox catholic. Can you possibly clear this up for me, aren’t roman and orthodox Catholicism two different things?

  66. All The Worlds A Stage says:

    If you honestly believe in talking snakes, woman made from ribs, virgin births, and jewish zombies.. Your Batshit insane.

    And the worst part of your batshit insanity.. You seek nothing more than to spread your sickness to innocent children.. To fill their minds with images of Gods and demons.. Teach them how worthless, and sick, and twisted they are.. Abuse their minds to the point of them wanting to murder themselves to escape the mental abuse you call “your personal choice”.

    Its sickens me to listen to you people proudly boast you childish fantasies, living in delusions while casting nothing but hate, shame, murder, molestation of both body and mind upon our culture..

    Holding us hostage in the dark ages where your minds are trapped by this wicked infectious disease of the mind you call faith.

    You should be ashamed of yourselves.. Your bible tells you your wicked horrible filthy sinner who deserve the fires of hell..

    I happen to personally agree.. Knowing I share the same air with you people nearly makes me ill just thinking about it..

    Its like walking around with thousands of people infected with the most horrible disease and me without a gas mask.

    We have whats called the RICO laws now.. Where an entire “gang” can be charged with a crime that only one of it’s members has committed..

    That combined with the abolishment of the statute of limitation, I would love to see you all tried and sentenced in mass for the murder, torture, rape of EVERY SINGLE PERSON ever tortured by the religious past and present.

    By your acceptance of the faith, you continue on where those before you left off.. You are just as guilty of their crimes as they were.

    Would we allow the Nazi party rise to power again? No We would not..

    So why should we allow the “people of faith” to continue their traditions despite being responsible for more pain and suffering and death than even the worst of dictators. The death toll cause by you and those who think like you can only be outnumbered by that of the meteorite that crashed into earth literally killing everything upon it.

    Your crimes make those of Hitler looks like jaywalking.

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