I vacillated about the title for this post, beginning with, “Catholic Evil.” But I decided that sounded too one-sided because it could imply that the words are synonymous and I don’t believe they are. I write this last sentence and part of me laughs inside, because today I was provided with evidence that the church knew about my abuser years before I reported him.
How do we — I say we because I still consider myself Catholic — how do we reconcile this double evil of abuse and denial with our faith community? The answer is — we don’t! It is not possible to reconcile evil with good in any context, and we shouldn’t try. It is important not to try to rationalize away the evil perpetrated by the pedophile clergy or the evil perpetrated by the obfuscating bishops and provincials. We need to recognize it and name it. It doesn’t matter that the priests received absolution; it doesn’t matter that the bishops were trying to take care of their spiritual “sons.” The facts are that hundreds of documented pedophile priests didn’t stop what they were doing, despite spiritual counseling and sacramental absolution, perhaps because they learned that there were no consequences other than geographical ones. The facts are that bishops chose to ignore repeated crimes and growing numbers of victims. Instead of going to prison the priests went to another parish.
The abuse was evil; the cover up was evil. No amount of financial settlement can heal a victim’s life, it can only help to provide care as they struggle to survive. Sadly, I have personally known victims who took their own lives after a settlement was received, maybe because it felt like a hollow victory or maybe because it just didn’t take away the pain.
“Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ ” Lk.18:16