Saturday, April 3, 2010
To Protect and Defend
I'm back editing my book for the last time. I had two weeks off from engaging with the material that I've worked on for almost two years. The publisher sent my book back after an editor fixed the grammar and syntax. But now I am line editing the book after all the technical stuff has been corrected.
Writing is a lonely occupation. There is so much quiet in my apartment and in my mind that it is almost frightening. I feel like I'm in a cell when I write. Not a jail cell but a monk's cell. Isolation is good and bad. Right about now, my tush hurts, but I had to blog for a few minutes just to get the book structure out of my mind.
But I am really kind of disturbed today. I'm disturbed about the Catholic Church. I'm disturbed about the pedophile scandal, about priests and brothers molesting young people, either very young boys or adolescents. I've known for years about priests and women; especially in Latin America where there many priests who serve in remote regions take wives and raise a family. It's only natural. But the idea of covering up abuse, of sticking to the old playbook about celibacy makes me angry and very sad. The other day I read an article about priests in the Ukraine who are allowed to marry and raise a family. No child abuse in that part of the world. The Greek Orthodox priests marry; the Episcopalians marry and the Lutherans and other Protestant congregations.
In 1960, my parents hosting the wedding reception of my brother and his wife at our home. I was standing near my father as I always did and listened to a conversation between my father and my godfather and another man. This is all very vivid to me. They were talking about how ridiculous it was for priest not to be married. Now, these were Irish Catholic men and the Irish kind of make up their own rules about religion but it was a very progressive conversation. I felt the same way and I was only sixteen years old.
So this sexual abuse has been going on for decades, maybe even centuries and it began to surface i the 1950's. It is a horrific circumstance and I feel dead inside my soul. I listened to "This American Life" this morning about a former priest (a brother) who was recruited by the church to cover up abuse cases. After four years of lying to parishioners, the young priest of thirty-three left the church and ended up working for a law firm that represented men who have been abused by priests. He knew the inside of cannon law better than anyone in the firm because he had to implement the church law over and over again. He still went to church, however, until after about the one thousandth case of abuse crossed his desk. He reasoned that the Catholic Church was immovable, absolutely resistant to change, and he could no longer attend mass with his family. His daughter no longer goes to Catholic school.
This is what is on my mind today because I was raised a Catholic and believed like others in the institution until I grew into adulthood and realized that the church's mission was to intimidate and to frighten and to do anything, even lie and cover up, to avoid facing the horrendous truth that there are pedophiles among the priestly flock and the seminaries are rampant with men who use the institution to hide their addiction from society. I'm ashamed.
And I'm 60 and do not think I will every get over this betrayal. I know the other side of this argument is not to condemn the entire church for the sins of some, but the other side to this argument is that the Catholic Church is there to protect its flock and they passed the buck, didn't do it and they should be jailed or at least fired. Shame on them.
As I say in my book, SIXTY. SEX & TANGO, there is no curriculum, syllabus, cheat sheet or playbook to live in our sixties. We are pretty much surprised by life's circumstances and we try to roll with the punches. Did anything ever turn out the way we expected it to? And what did we really expect from our lives? I'll take my corner of happiness and relish it, have gratitutde for my joy, and try to get a good night's sleep.