A little bit ago, while working on my Pope Madness! series for Aleteia, I posted a simple question on my Facebook wall. “John XXIII or Pius XI?” was all it read, and what followed was a lengthy, amusing thread where Catholics and non-Catholics alike weighed in on everything from their papal pick, to knock-knock jokes, to sushi.
It was like a funny little parish picnic, social media-style.
Then, as always happens, The Comment came. You know the one: “You must stop having fun with your faith because, priest rape.” Seriously. Apropos of absolutely nothing, in pops someone who hasn’t posted on my FB wall in a million years, with a friendly little reminder that Catholics suck because, you know- predator priests.
To my absolute, ridiculous pride, people responded charitably and patiently with the woman. And, to the commentor’s great credit, she was willing to return that civility in her follow up statements.
Ultimately, though, her stance boiled down to this: “No Catholic anywhere can ever again celebrate their faith because of the evil actions of a group of men.”
Think about that. Two thousand years of art, philosophy, education, social teachings, and charity, and we can never again be allowed to enjoy it because, priest rape.
Even more jaw-dropping than that thought is the fact that so many Catholics seem to have internalized this shame. In an attempt to avoid being a target for anti-Catholic trolls out there, they keep their head down, shut their mouth, and try to stay off the radar.
This unwillingness to rock the boat has been used against us, the laity, in the form of the VIRTUS program. The bishops have allowed what should have been a cut-and-dried training session on how to recognize warning signs of sexual abuse to swell into an atrocious, hysterical leviathan. We, the laity, so concerned with being “in compliance” and not wanting to give off the impression that we’re somehow condoning the sexual abuse of children, are being expected to endure a poorly thought out program in retribution for sins that weren’t even ours.