I’ve been sitting on this post for several days now, not knowing where to begin, or even if I should begin at all. Today is Easter, one of the great celebrations of my religion. But my day hasn’t been all going to mass, praying, and celebration. The news, NPR, has been on at my house all day, and a recurring news story has been that of the Catholic diosecan abuse scandal.
For certain, these cases of abuses and alleged cases of abuse are troublesome to me as an active member of the greater Catholic organization. The accusations of cover-ups and hush-ups is even more troubling to me than the cases of abuse itself. But that’s not what I want to talk about.
Another aspect of this growing story is people leaving the Catholic church. This has been on my mind constantly as the news reports. I’ve given it some thought and I cannot imagine, controversy or not, how a practicing Catholic could leave the church over this.
Although reasons are rarely given through the media, I can imagine that there are two real reasons people would leave: disillusionment with the Catholic church’s hierarchy, and a symbolic protest against it. As a practicing Catholic, I cannot follow either of these reasons to the end. We should all know that priests and bishops are capable of human error–even systematic error. Ordination is a sacrament, it imparts grace, but does not vaccinate one from error. In the same way our baptism brings us into the church but does not assure that we will remain in communion with it.
I cannot fathom trading in the mission and communal life of a Catholic for a not-small but fixable problem within the Church. Yes, it’s gross how those who are meant to act in persona Christi have harmed the most vulnerable members of the faithful. But to quit the Church altogether is to turn against the Eucharist, the community, the sacraments and the faith one once professed.
A passage from the Catechism sums a lot up for me, “From this it follows that if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with him, and if one member is honored, all the members together rejoice.” Today I renewed my baptismal vow, a vow I made to become one with the Body of Christ (how all us Catholics view our place) and I refuse to be an amputation of that body even if it becomes grievously ill.