The other day, I posted the story of a local priest caught with his hands under a girl's skirt. I was curious if the diocesan newspaper would report the story in next week's paper. Yes, they did. Page 2. But no commentary. Their editorial pages showed the same blindness that created the mess they are in. Jesus simple message of mercy and love - of turning the other cheek and of loving the sinner has been swallowed up by the church's corporate form of religion.
Unlike many here, I have lived most of my life in the same general area. I grew up 20 miles away in Clifton and the Beacon was the local Catholic weekly when I was a teenager. Later on, one of its editors was Wayne Long, someone who I rode the bus with while in HS. (I despised Wayne, he was a professional suck up). So though I am not really a practicing Catholic, I remain a part of the wider community. I cannot write of the church's sins as a complete outsider.
I knew many priests along the way. Some are great folks who gave their life for what they thought was service. Some were not so great. My cousin Ray way a deeply closeted gay man. He became a priest, and as far as I can tell, he was true to his vows. But from what I can tell (he was a generation older than I was) he saw his not being attracted to women as a gift from God - a gift that meant that, since he would never marry, the God meant him to be a priest. He was wrong, of course. He also saw his interest in men as a cross to bear - a penance to suffer. It is a terrible belief. Many like him were among the offenders. One of his best friends ended up molesting dozens of teenage boys in a nearby town. When the detectives interviewed the offender (Fr. Hanley) he said that he tried to tell my cousin about his problem - his sexual sins - but Ray refused to listen.
And don't get me wrong. Straight priests offend too. But most of them did their sexual work among grown up women. Especially the church housekeepers. Three of my aunts worked for priests as housekeepers. They would gossip about this or that priest and how a housekeeper had to be let go.
And yes, I know that pedofiles go after girls and boys but few of the priests were strict pedofiles, if we use the word carefully. Pedofiles describes those who prey on pre-pubescent children. But many of the victims were in the midst of puberty - so these were the budding youths referred to by poets and philosophers. Also too tempting for men who felt that their desire was shameful. It is tough to go through a long life of denial when the object of ones desire is so close.
The church cannot face its problems without collapsing. To renounce its misguided sexual teachings would be to tell those in the pews, those who pay the freight, that it has all been nonsense. So they will never reform until there is nothing left of the church.
In Europe the Churches are mostly museums now. It would be better for us in the US if that happened here.
The Beacon is really just a house organ of a large business. And like with any inside newspaper, the CEO appears smiling on most of the pages. Thus it is here. The bishop's vestments are really silly, aren't they? And not the sort of display that Jesus imagined.