The news from this weekend in Canada is this tweet from the Holy Father, Pope Francis:
Which landed in this country with a tone deaf thud.
I am Catholic. I was an alter server in my youth, attended Catholic school, and even have my kids enrolled in the Catholic board. I have been raised in the deep end of Catholic doctrine and scripture. I am not an expert theologian, but I am confident in my interpretation of faith. This statement from the Holy Father falls miles short of Christs teachings.
Catholics believe that upon receiving the sacrament of confirmation, we receive 7 blessings of the Holy Spirit. One of them is humility. To know when you’re failing to live up to God’s divinity. To know when you need help to seek forgiveness. This weekend was the need to demonstrate to Catholics throughout the country the need for humility.
215 children died in the care of the Catholic Church. Many people had a hand in this tragedy. Actions and accountability are demanded of the survivors and Canada at large. One might look to the Church and give them a pass. To try and find the right words to match the tragedy. Except they aren’t. This has happened before. In Boston, as the horrific tragedy of the sex abuses inflicted upon youth by the Church came to light.
In that instance, as is happening now, the divinity of God seems to have left the Church. Instead of pleading for forgiveness and humbling themselves in front their fellow humanity and God above, they are trying to save themselves. This is about money. I should preface this as saying there is no proof to this statement and it’s entirely my opinion. However they have acted this way before during the sex abuse scandals.
As secular law proved to be greater than God’s mercy, as lawsuits and criminal cases were brought forward against dioceses and clergy, the Church moved to hide it’s considerable sums. Dioceses worked with the Vatican to shift their vast monies around on the books to hide it from victims. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was happening here. As well, the records of clergy who worked at these residential schools for years, and then used that history as bonafides to work their way up the Church hierarchy will be embarrassing to say the least. Priests who later became Bishops, with institutions named after them will be a blow. As well imagine, the evening news footage of a Bishop or Priest being lead away by the RCMP on the evening news.
The point of all this is that, despite the Church’s claims of divinity, and Godly aspirations, they are no different than any other global institution on this planet. Power hungry and oblivious to the plight of those different from them. As a Catholic, I find myself at a crossroads. Rarely do I see myself or my values reflected in the teaching’s of this institution. Working to better the lives of the poor and oppressed seem to be second seat to enriching themselves and consolidation of power over the weak. Locally, the Halton Catholic School Board has demonstrated homophobia by being one of two school boards in the province to actively not fly the Pride flag. Under the guise of defending it’s Catholic faith. The Church officially has remained silent on that.
I haven’t attended Church in over a year due to COVID-19. I doubt that will change much once restrictions are lifted. Will my kids remain in their school? Perhaps, only because transferring to a different school might mean a lack of resources available. As well the disruption to their lives would be great. However, I have a hard time reconciling the institution I was raised to believe in, with the one existing in reality.
I know I am not alone in my question of the Church. For many Catholics there is anger and shame at this institution that was so important to our lives for so long. We are at a crossroads. The Church is clearly travelling on a different path than the rest of us. Selfish and inward, rather than open and welcoming. That is how we see the Church now. If it is wanting to rekindle this relationship with the millions of Catholics that exist in Canada, then it needs to humble itself. Show contrition without reservation and beg for forgiveness. Not to us but to the millions that they have hurt in recent history. Maybe then, we can talk honestly.