Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How Can An Abuse Victim Be a Happy Catholic?

In yesterday’s post summarizing my memoir, I dodged a critical question, knowing that I would come back to it. I wrote the following, referring to myself and my experience:

It is reasonable to ask how a man who was sexually abused by a spiritual teacher could have ended up in a Church with its own well-documented sexual abuse problem. I don’t have an easy answer to that question.

There are no easy answers to evil, especially evil that has touched something one loves. In my case, evil has touched the Catholic Church.

I love the Catholic Church, having entered it as a convert in 2008. I did so as a victim of sexual abuse myself, knowing that the Church was—even at that time—tragically guilty of abuse within its ranks.

How could I have done so? And how can I be a happy Catholic this morning, ready and willing to attend 7 a.m. mass, with fresh accusations of abuse staring at me from my computer screen?

This morning a friend sent me a story about revelations affecting a Catholic institution where he himself was a student. It is not happy reading. He wrote, in part:

I've attached a link about some sexual abuse that happened at the school. I never witnessed any sexual abuse. I did witness a lot of physical abuse. I myself was beat with a stick and strap on several occasions.

I replied—and it is only the bare bones of a true answer:

These stories are always disturbing to me, not just as a victim myself but especially as a happy Catholic man today. 

I recognize though that every pursuit/cause one loves has had good people and bad people associated with it, and these people neither justify nor deny the cause itself. In this case, the cause is the greatest cause of all: the God of my understanding a/k/a Jesus Christ.

I will have more to write on this subject, perhaps as early as this afternoon. But I wanted to start the conversation immediately. I thank my friend for his courage in sharing his experience with me—as I thank every person who tries honestly to expose evil, even if it hurts like hell to hear about it.

It hurts like hell to know that these things have happened, and that they surely continue to happen despite the Church’s best efforts today. Evil persists. Everywhere.

And now I need to prepare for mass.

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