Actually….there are a whole lot of words! On Tuesday the Pennsylvania grand jury report was released with a list of over 300 priests accused of sexual abuse – 300 in Pennsylvania alone and that number accounts for only those who have been named. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all those who have suffered in silence, or the centuries upon centuries of clerical abuse that preceded this investigation. In reporting priest sexual abuse, the media tends to highlight the abuse that was inflicted upon young boys, completely missing the girls, nuns and women who have been and continue to be the victims of clerical abuse – sexual or otherwise. The sheer magnitude is staggering!
The culture of clerical privilege and clergy abuse is nothing short of evil – condemnable evil. Thank God someone is finally doing something to bring the truth to light and that the Church will finally be made to pay for centuries of abuse. Unfortunately, none of this does anything to heal the grave damage done by the Institution to its victims; neither does it do anything to change the culture that created the environment in which priests could get away with, and even be celebrated for raping women and children.
As one who worked in the Church when the sex abuse scandal first erupted in the late 1990’s and as one who has watched in horror as the Church has given lip service to the “changes” they are making to prevent clerical abuse, I can assure you that nothing has actually changed. Yes, band aids have been put in place, but the culture that created the environment in which abuse could happen in the first place has not changed.
I suspect the Church might not survive this layer of truth-telling. At one time I may have had pity or compassion for a Church that is suffering from its own woundedness, but no more. The Church has had ample time and opportunities to take a good hard look at the culture of patriarchal privilege and power that makes it “ok” for priests to abuse, but again, the Church has done nothing. Instead, they have systematically worked to protect the abusers, silence those who have been abused, and ignore (and even condemn) the voices of those who might actually be able to help the Institution transform the culture that has allowed sexual abuse to happen in the first place. In short, the Catholic Church has made its own bed….and now it will have to lie in it.
The healing and reform of the Catholic Church is no longer my concern. The Church is dying. It is long-past time for end of the tyranny brought forth by the Catholic Church. It is time that this patriarchal, hierarchical Institution based in fear, power and control, which has used the name of Jesus to kill Jews, Muslims, and “witches;” and which has used God as the justification for their “holy wars,” and the subjugation of women, to come to an end so that something new might come forth. What that something new might be, I do not know, but I suspect it will have a lot more to do with what Jesus taught and Mary Magdalene lived out than what we are currently seeing. At least I hope so, because what Jesus taught is really quite simple:
- Love God.
- Love one another.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
- Everyone is your neighbor.
- Feed the hungry.
- Clothe the naked.
- Set prisoners free.
- Care for the widows and orphans.
- Share what you have with those who have not.
- Give money to the poor.
- Give sight to the blind.
- We are all one – with God, with each other and with all of creation.
- Love is who we are and who we are meant to be.
It really is that simple. As Jesus taught, love is truly all there is, all we are, and all we are called to be and do. As Jesus taught, love heals all that is broken within us, thereby eliminating the cause of “sin.” Love is the answer. It saddens me that the Church, in its quest for power, forgot this simple truth. But like the phoenix that arises out of the ash, may the new that is brought forth out of the death of the Catholic Church be rooted in love, bringing forth the fulfillment of what Jesus originally taught and was lived out through Mary Magdalene. Love is all there is and all we need to know. When we know love, the rest flows effortlessly out of us. It really is that simple.