Monday, July 16, 2012

When You Get the Blues About Our Church's Sexual Abuse Scandal, Read Dorothy Day

Our Church's sexual abuse scandal goes on and on. Recently, Monsignor William Lynn a was convicted of covering up sexual abuse by priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. This is the latest installment in a long sad saga--story after story of priests raping young boys. George Weigel, writing in 2002, called this torrent of priestly abuse  "the Long Lent," and that was a decade ago.

Sometimes this terrible scandal gives me the blues and even makes me question my faith. After all, devotion to family is at the core of Catholicism.  We are the people who celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. We are the people who worship the Holy Child. How could a priest brutalize a young boy?  How could a bishop cover up such an outrage and allow a child molester to remain in the priesthood?

A few days ago, I picked up my copy of Loaves and Fishes, Dorothy Day's account of the Catholic Worker movement.  I had read this book several years ago, but I began reading it again.
After reading a few pages, I was completely restored.  Dorothy's book reminded me of the essence of our faith, a faith strong enough to overcome even something as horrendous as our Church's sexual abuse scandal.

Dorothy's reflection on the priesthood was especially comforting to me, and I quote it here:
There are many times when  I grow impatient at the luxury of the Church, the building programs, the cost of the diocesan school system, and the conservatism of the hierarchy. But then I think of our priests. What would we do without them? They are so vital a part of our lives, standing by us as they do at birth, marriage, sickness and death--at the great and critical moments of our existence--but also daily bringing us the bread of life, our Lord himself, to nourish us. "To whom else shall we go?" we say with St. Peter. (p. 126)
So let us soldier on. Let us strive to be constant in our small duties and responsibilities. For as Dorothy wrote:
 "I believe because I want to believe, I hope because I want to hope, I love because I want to love."  These very desires would be regarded by God as He regarded those of Daniel, who was called a man of desires, and whom He rewarded. (p. 105).
Our saints and martyrs will comfort us in these times. Let us not forget them, and let us pray for Dorothy Day to be canonized.


Day, Dorothy. (1963). Loaves and Fishes. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.

Hurdle, Jon, & Eckholm, Erik (2012, June 22). Cardinal's aide found guilty in abuse case. New York Times.

Weigel, George (2002). The Courage to be Catholic.  New York: Basic Books.

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