Kristina Keneally, "This Easter, It's the Catholic Church That Needs Redemption:"
It's Holy Week, the most sacred time in the Catholic liturgical calendar. Between Thursday and Saturday, Catholic liturgies will recount the last days of Jesus of Nazareth, including his last supper with his followers, his condemnation to death, his crucifixion and his burial.
There would have been a time in which I would have attended church every day of this week. Holy Week marks the key message of the Catholic Christian faith: that Jesus suffered, died, was buried and on the third day he rose again, breaking the bonds of death and redeeming humanity.
In short, Jesus' death and resurrection saves us from our sins.
This Holy Week I won't be at church.
Don't get me wrong. I’m no saint. I make no claim to sinlessness. I could use some of that forgiveness and redemption. But it is hard to take seriously a church that, in its very organisation, seems so sinful.
If Jesus' death and resurrection imparts some saving grace to humanity, how is it that the very institution that is meant to mediate Christ to his followers can be so intrinsically flawed?
I know the church hierarchy is made up of human beings, and human beings are not perfect. But these particular human beings make special claims to holiness and grace, and yet they spawn and support an institution that grotesquely violates children.
Jesus said that children are special, that they are holy. The royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse says that there have been nearly 4,500 reported cases of alleged abuse of children in Catholic institutions over the past 35 years.
No doubt many more remain unreported. . . .
I can't, in good conscience, continue to prop up a church that has been so exposed in its systemic wrong-doing, and yet is still doing so little to make reparations.
Michael J. Iafrate, "Enjoy the Silence: Triduum, Sexual Abuse, and the Disappearance of the Crucified" (from 2010):
German political theologian Fr. Johann Baptist Metz famously wrote on many occasions that the challenge for theologians in the second half of the twentieth century would be to learn how to write theology that places the world’s victims at the center of its reflection. In particular, Metz insisted that theologians could no longer do their work with their backs turned to Auschwitz. In his most recent book, Catholic theologian Tom Beaudoin echoes Metz, writing that today we cannot do theology with our backs turned to the victims of sexually abusive priests. (His reflections on the latest round of abuse reports can be seen here or here.)
But this is, I fear, precisely what is likely to happen in most Roman Catholic parishes during Holy Week. Given the tendency toward apolitical and irrelevant homilies that have become standard in our communities, I have my doubts that many Good Friday homilies will make reference to the crucifixions experienced by victims of sexually abusive clergy. A friend of mine, and a doctoral student in theology herself, remarked to me that the Pope's silence in the face of cover-up accusations could be due to the view that Holy Week is perhaps not an appropriate time to discuss such things. I suggested in return that if in Holy Week we focus our attention on the suffering of Christ, then acknowledging the Christ that suffers in the victims seems entirely fitting this week. More than fitting. Necessary. But sadly, if we are to get any reference to the scandal at all, it is likely to be the sort of thing Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s flock received at Mass this past Passion/Palm Sunday when he insisted that it is Pope Benedict who has been "crucified".
Liturgy should always, though usually does not, draw us into the sufferings of others. During Holy Week, the celebration of the Lord's passion and resurrection, this should be even more true. But as a life-long faithful participant in the church’s liturgical life, I am increasing frustrated by the fact that we literally have to work against the liturgy — as it is conducted by most celebrants and most communities anyway — in order for this to happen. The suffering of human persons at the hands of our social, political, and ecclesial systems is "disappeared," removed even from our liturgies where our anamnetic words and actions suffer from the worst kind of spiritual myopia and, as Sobrino calls it, "christological deism."
And from where I stand, just days away from these holiest of days, I anticipate only more silence in the face of the reality of the world's suffering, especially that suffering directly caused by the church. And I am not sure I can take it this year.