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Blog Post #39: Sin, Scandal, Shame, & Sex Abuse

By Kristen (Kurivial) Hug | August 24, 2020

Sin | Sex Abuse | Catholic Church | Diocese of Toledo | Truth | Jesus

Sin, scandal, shame, and sex abuse has yet again surfaced in the Catholic Church. And this most recent reckoning has come to our own Diocese of Toledo, with one of our priests being charged with coercion and enticement, sex trafficking of a minor, and sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud, or coercion. In moments like these, I find myself - frankly - disgusted, sick, furious, and wondering - not for the first time - why I still choose to be Catholic.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you are in similar space.

But then my righteous anger kicks in and I come to the conclusion that I will be damned if I will allow fallen away priests to tarnish and taint the truth.

What is the truth? Let’s delve into that together.

  1.  I am Catholic because of one person and one person only. His name? Jesus Christ. I do believe that this is the Church Jesus Christ Himself founded and I do believe that He is present - Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. No bad behavior on the part of any priest or church person can change this truth.
  2. I am Catholic because the entire Mass is the Bible come to life. All of our prayers, readings, responses, creeds, songs, and practices, come either directly or were inspired by the words of Sacred Scripture. And, just like in the many stories of our Savior in this sacred text, we experience His miracle at Every. Single. Mass. Jesus coming to us in the form of bread and wine, is not symbolic, but a miraculous reality. Why would I walk away from the Bread of Life, the Bread of Heaven because of someone else’s sins?
  3. I am Catholic because the actual teachings of the Church are true, holy, and lovely! They encourage us to lead selfless lives that produce real change, real beauty, real connection, and real love in a world that is often fake, disconnected, virtue signaling, selfish, and devoid of love. Take the Catholic practice called “The Examine” created by St. Ignatius of Loyola! He encourages those who practice this prayer to examine the last 24 hours of their lives, give thanks to God for all His goodness, examine their shortcomings, ask God for forgiveness, and commit to doing better tomorrow! Imagine if all of us adopted this one, simple Catholic prayer form into our lives. Just imagine!

But, unfortunately, the beauty of our faith has been clouded in abuse because of the deplorable actions of many priests, deacons, bishops, cardinals, and, yes, even popes!

One of the most important steps we can take as the Catholic faithful is to denounce these actions and do so at the top of our lungs. Let the world know that this is not the faith of the Church and profess it loudly!

Two, we need to demand the cooperation of our hierarchy with law enforcement. I am relieved to report that our Bishop, Daniel E. Thomas, has been prompt in placing this priest on administrative leave pending the trial and has issued the following statement: “I am profoundly shocked and grieved to learn of these charges against one of our priests. The Church cannot and will not tolerate any such behavior and takes any sexual abuse or misconduct on the part of a cleric with the utmost seriousness. As we await the outcome of the criminal investigation, our prayers go out to anyone affected by this situation.”

 Bishop Daniel E. Thomas, also put out the following video addressing this latest scandal:

Another step, we as the Catholic faithful should take, is to - obviously - pray like never before. What should we be praying for specifically? First and foremost, the victims and all who love them. I want to break down sobbing thinking of the men, women, and children who have suffered abuse at the hands of anyone claiming to be connected to Christ. 

Secondly, pray for the men and women who have devoted themselves to the service of the church who are now looked upon with suspicion and even contempt. My heart bleeds for our good and holy priests who are rattled, just like the rest of us, after such a devastating revelation.

Thirdly, pray for the family members of the perpetrators. These perpetrators have families. Can you even imagine the agony of someone you love committing such a heinous crime? 

Finally, pray for perpetrators. Maybe the only prayer you can muster is to pray for justice to be served. That’s okay, start there.

This whole situation cuts like a knife, but let’s allow it to be the surgeon’s knife that exposes the toxic entities, eradicates the evil, and ultimately brings about hope and healing.

There is so much more to say. But I think I will leave this post today with these words of truth. During this difficult time, remember, the church did not fail us. God did not fail us. People failed us. 

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