The Pope's visit to the US
Although the Church is no longer standing, the victims of the outrageous sexual abuse scandals that came forth are very much alive, and they are angry. I don't blame them. The church has treated them abysmally and the Pope has begun to acknowledge how badly the scandal was handled by not only the Boston archdiocese, but by the American Catholic Church as a whole.
Cardinal Bernard Law, the former Cardinal of the Boston church, did everything within his power to cover up the scandal. He had no love for the victims, and instead he made sure that the offending priests were protected and moved from parish to parish, with each move covering up the abuse that followed these particular priests.
Because of the enormous size of the scandal within the Boston area, the Archdiocese had to reign in it's costs, which meant selling large tracts of land including the Cardinal's home, and many churches within the greater Boston area. The Archdiocese forced churches to close, to combine congregations, and to close Catholic schools just to cover the cost of reparations. The church closings, school closings, and the scandal itself didn't help to fill the pews in the churches within MA. Additionally, priests that were outspoken were asked to leave their long time parishes and moved to places where they were obviously being punished. That happened to a very beloved priest right in our small city, and the outcry was fast and furious.
Living in a community so seriously scarred by this scandal is often difficult. An innocuous question such as "What church do you attend?" can set off a rant that leaves me breathless with anxiety. I see how angry people are. Some of the closed churches have never been able to be sold because the parishioners are still holding 24-hour vigils more than 3 years after the churches were to be sold off. One in the next town, a church that used to house the twice-yearly Mother of Twins sale, has a vigil ongoing for years and years.
While I think this particular Pope is at least discussing the problem, his refusal to talk to the victims of abuse is a major mistake. This church needs healing, healing that is not going to be manifested by a few chosen words by the Pope on his airplane or at the White House party for his birthday. He needs to hear first hand what suffering these victims have gone through, and how their lives have been irreparably damaged.
Additionally, the Pope needs to address some of the issues of the Catholic church that remain unspoken. The large population of gay priests should be acknowledged and dealt with. I don't think there is anything wrong with gay priests, but when they are required to be celibate, then abuse of young men is going to happen, just as it happened in the past.
Protecting the priests that were involved in the sexual abuse of young men and boys is absolutely wrong and the church must create a policy that ensures that nothing like this will happen again.
The issue of celibacy is going to remain a problem in the recruitment and retention of priests. In this day and age, it isn't really plausible to expect young men to take a vow of celibacy and remain so throughout their lives. Ditto for nuns. Both of these populations have a poor retention rate because they are human and do fall in love and want to be sexually active. It just isn't working for the church anymore, and changes must be addressed.
Lastly, closing parishes and selling the parishioners down the river to pay for the scandals is, in fact, punishing the victims. The church is a fabulously wealthy entity, and the Vatican needs to open up it's coffers and pay for the reparations to the victims. Consolidation is one thing, but punishing the loyal parishioners by removing their beloved priests and selling off their church buildings just plain stinks. It needs to stop. I would like the Pope to talk about these issues and be willing to make changes within the church that benefit the churchgoers rather than the corporation the church has become. Stumble It! JBlog Me