Why am I still here? In this Church, that is.
I’m just going to come right out and say it because I know some of you are probably feeling the same way and maybe even feeling guilty about it: Why am I still here? In this Church. Why? I am struggling, I mean STRUGGLING with the latest sex abuse cover-up news coming out of the Archdiocese of Chicago. As I read the news story today, I could feel my heart sinking and then hardening and then breaking. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to cry or scream or walk away, or possibly all three at once.
Every once in a while I hear from people on the “outside,” non-Catholics who can’t figure out why some of us stay in the face of such evil, especially when you pile more evil on top of the original evil for good measure. And sometimes – especially on days like these – I ask myself that very same question. Why am I still here? Why are any of us still here?
And I thought that today, when maybe you might be thinking the very same thing, it was time to talk about it for a few minutes, to let you know that you’re not alone and that it’s okay to feel this way. More than okay. Many of us haven’t stayed, and maybe if they – and we – had talked more openly about it, they’d still be here with us, working to change things for the better, hoping and praying for the day when those of us who had nothing to do with this horror and scandal will be free of the stain and the association and the pain, although it’s hard to imagine we’ll ever really be free.
Maybe that’s only fair. After all, look at all the children-now-adults who will never be free because of what was done to them. Look at the parents who ache and cry for what their children have suffered and who protest and yell and beg on their behalf. None of them will ever be free, and maybe part of our journey as Catholic Christians is to walk with them, to listen to them, and to stay here and fight for them, to be their voice within the Church.
I can sit here and talk until I’m blue in the face about all the great and charitable things our Church does for others, regardless of their religion or political views. I can wax poetic about the Gospels and the profound yet painfully difficult teachings of Jesus Christ and how that is the only path I would ever want to follow. I can tell myself again and again that this is my only home, with Peter’s words echoing in my head: “Lord, to whom shall we go.”
But every time another cover-up is uncovered, every time another abuse case is revealed, every time another bishop is proven to have looked away rather than acted with swift justice, I feel my core shake and my spirit whither and I ask myself in the silence of my heart: Why am I still here? And yet I am. Here, that is. Struggling. Questioning. Praying. I thought maybe we could struggle together, find strength in each other, and maybe pour our that strength and love on those who are faced with never-ending pain and heartache because of the evils perpetrated against them.