A Church of Victims

In a previous blog post, a mentioned how angry I am at the latest revelations of the Church's sex-abuse crimes and cover-up. I know I'm not the only one trying to discern a way to sit with such feelings.

As I wrote earlier, it's hard for me to want to be a member of the Church. But when I watched the video testimony of three survivors, I realized something: they are the Church. They are the real Body of Christ. They have the wounds to prove it.

We need to hear their voices. 

"This is one of the proudest things I have ever done in my life," said Shaun Dougherty. "Speaking about your abuse is a very important step in the healing process."

And reading their stories--allowing them to bear witness to their suffering--is something I must do to help the Church heal. It's something we all must do, regardless of how hard it will be to see the crimes committed against them by evil men.

The words of Jeremiah are as relevant today as they were in his day:

Let my eyes stream with tears
    night and day, without rest,
Over the great destruction which overwhelms
    the virgin daughter of my people,
    over her incurable wound.
If I walk out into the field,
    look! those slain by the sword;
If I enter the city,
    look! victims of famine.
Both prophet and priest ply their trade
    in a land they do not know.
Have you really cast Judah off?
    Is Zion loathsome to you?
Why have you struck us a blow
    that cannot be healed?
We wait for peace, to no avail;
    for a time of healing, but terror comes instead.

While the Church as an institution suffers from what seems to be an incurable wound, we can look to people like Bob, Shawn, and Carolyn to lead us in doing penance--that is, they can lead the Church in a conversion of heart so that she is no longer seen as loathsome, but a true herald of the God's kingdom.