This is Our Battle Cry
Abuse in the Church: the story you haven’t heard
My husband and I began our honeymoon a few months ago. The way he and I did it was no cell phones except for brief moments to let our loved ones know we were still safe. On coming back and turning our internet on and catching up on all the news we missed over the few weeks we were gone, the news that stood out the most was the priest scandals coming forward. A few weeks later my husband asked me if all this news was causing some past wounds to open back up. You see, about four or five years ago I was picking up a seminarian whom I had befriended. Not long after he got in my car he began groping me and grabbing me, saying all sorts of inappropriate things, things that I can’t unhear.
“Not long after he got in my car he began groping me and grabbing me, saying all sorts of inappropriate things, things that I can’t unhear.”
After dropping him back off, I told him that what he did was wrong and dehumanizing to me. He continued to text me, telling me how it all was my fault… I didn’t know who to go to. On Monday, right when the Catholic Church opened, I met with the priest there. I told him everything that happened and what was said and how I had to block his number because the young man wouldn’t leave me alone. I told him how I didn’t know if anyone would believe me because the young seminarian had on such a joyful façade. Instantly, my Father’s face took on a stern, pale look, and he told me he would take care of it. Before noon, the director of the seminary was called, the young man was pulled out and away from others, the Archbishop was in the know, and I was talking to a police officer about everything that had happened. By Wednesday, the young man was kicked out of seminary and sent home. I was in contact with a therapist and though there was still fear, I knew that he wouldn’t be able to hurt me or the Church again.
“They acted fast and in accord with the law. Thinking on it, I am so thankful to these priests, these men who defend their children.”
Upon being asked if this event brought back painful memories, all I could say was that my Church defended and protected me. These men who were in charge played no games. They acted fast and in accord with the law. Thinking on it, I am so thankful to these priests, these men who defend their children. I feel sorrow for those in Pennsylvania because not all their cases were handled as mine. But to say that I would leave the Church because of the injustice that happened to me, I can only quote Saint Peter: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67) The truth is right there in the Eucharist every day. I wouldn’t dream of giving up heaven on Earth, especially when broken and wounded.
You see, leaving the Church is not the answer. Defending her is. It gives me great pleasure to live in a community where I get to see lay people living out their vocations as beautifully as the Saints who are above us did. I get to witness the zeal of the young seminarians in this new age fighting for brotherhood and learning how to protect the Bride of Christ and her children. In fact, a few weeks ago, my husband and I were eating brunch with some of the best people I know, a young engaged couple and two seminarians. A question was brought up by Camille: “How do we, as lay people, bring forth and call priests on to holiness?” First, I want to point out the courage it took to ask such a question in the middle of a restaurant where others could hear and judge and call out the brokenness. It was courageous because she did not shy away from the fact that there was a problem. It was beautiful because she was taking on the healing of the Church in the only way she as a lay person preparing for marriage could. The two seminarians thought for a good while before Jason spoke, “I guess the way I can best answer that is by asking you a question. How do you call your fiancé on to holiness? Because the priest is meant to be the husband to the Church: the people.”(I am paraphrasing.)
“I sat back and began to see them as bodyguards and bodyguards in training!”
Now it was my turn to think. They continued with how this new wave of priests are growing up in communion with each other, brotherhood. It is so important to not be afraid to ask for help or for guidance or invite these men-in-black into your home and families, because it is not good for man to be alone. These young seminarians expressed how intense the application to the seminary is including psych evaluations. The Church is doing everything she can to bring forth good, holy men to guide and guard her children. I sat back and began to see them as bodyguards and bodyguards in training! Priests are the bodyguards of the church, taking the brunt of the gossip and trying to keep their people safe and strong, holding tight to tradition. These men need to be strong, faithful men of God called to fight the good battle. And what can we the lay people do?
I thought about it on my run this morning. The best way I can call my husband onto holiness and love him in a way that calls him to strength is by giving him good and faithful children, calling him onto more than being a man but being a father, whether those children are physical or spiritual. The same goes for the Church and what the lay people can do for the priests. Instead of running from the pews, we need to be filling them! We need to be a people on fire for the Lord. Giving our children good examples of what living life in faith looks like, particularly as husband and wife. Giving the Church good, holy young men and women to lead the everyday battle against evil. Instead of dragging our feet to Mass we, as parents and individuals, need to be ready to jump out of bed dressed and present before the King of kings. We need to show our kids what it means to be Christians. We need to call our priest onto holiness by letting them live in brotherhood with fellow priests, so they have people holding them accountable. We need to call them onto holiness by giving them families to be a part of.
“We need to be a people on fire for the Lord”
I trust in the Church, and instead of seeing her as defeated, we need to stand forward and defend Her! All of us need to put on the armor of God, instead of falling victim to the evil one and throwing in the towel. Now is the time to stand for something! Why not stand for God? He died for you. “So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:14-17). This is our battle cry: We believe in one God the Father Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, His only son, born of the Virgin Mary, who suffered and was crucified. Who defeated death and sits and the right hand of the Father! We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church. The communion of saints. The forgiveness of sin. The resurrection of the body and life everlasting!
This is our battle cry.
This is what we believe.