Should we give up on the Catholic Church? From the lack of equality, to the silence about the mistreatment of minorities, to the decades-long sexual abuse, one might ask, is there any hope for the Catholic Church?
On March 8, the Voices of Faith Conference was held at the Aula of the Jesuit Curia in Rome. The conference was originally supposed to be held at The Vatican but the speakers, who included Ssenfuka Juanita Warry and Mary McAleese, didn’t fit the ideal Vatican event, as described in an astute commentary authored by three Catholic female leaders in the National Catholic Reporter:
“Since 2014, Voices of Faith has marked International Women's Day (March 8) with an event that examines how the intersection of Catholic doctrine and practice impacts women globally. This year, the Vatican denied the women the use of a hall inside its walls due to Voices of Faith's selection of speakers, including former Irish President Mary McAleese and Ugandan lesbian activist Ssenfuka Joanita Warry. Voices of Faith held its forum a short distance away at the Jesuit Aula.
We applaud the decision to stick with speakers who would address issues in a way that challenged Vatican authority, instead of replacing them with more 'acceptable' individuals in order to be inside the walls. It is a sign of growth and integrity for Voices of Faith and a signal that our movements will not be dismissed or stopped.”
On the other hand, a letter published earlier this month by The Buffalo News responded to the same gathering in a totally different way:
“While there is serious damage done to individuals, in this case, the reportage is out of proportion to the damage to the community. In fact, this over-the-top sensationalism does damage of its own, eroding the morale of good Catholic priests (the majority of them) as well as faithful parishioners. Enough already.”
Enough already? Were not the children, boys and girls, that were molested by church leaders, these pillars of servitude and sanctity, saying "enough already" to these priests? Are not the children, now adults, who were sexually abused by priests and forced to live with the memories of betrayal and confusion, saying “enough already” to the praise and glorification of these priests? And are not the women of the church, who continue to be overlooked for priesthood, saying “enough already”? What about the cries of the marginalized such as African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, and the LGBTQI community? Are they not saying “enough already” to being ignored?
The Catholic Church is broken. The patriarchal and misogynistic attitudes of the whole institution are causing major cracks in the religious foundation. The Catholic Church needs women leaders. Church leadership needs to be at the forefront of confronting social injustices; they need to hold themselves accountable for the wrongdoings of their clergymen because at the end of the day:
- Women priests have just as much to offer as any male priests
- The church should not sit idly by and watch injustices, such as the mistreatment of marginalized groups, occur
- The church needs to stop preying on children while praying over their heads
Many Catholics who are proud of their faith want an end to the hypocrisy. How can they go to church and listen to church leaders, priests, bishops, archbishops, and/or the Pope say the homily with such compassion and understanding and yet find no faults with the Roman Catholic Church? They only wish to see and hear what will validate their continued privileged existence, but fail to hear the truth from those who lack their privilege.
To answer my opening question, giving up on the church is not an option because so many injustices continue to occur. In the words of Mary McAleese: “We are here because we care, because I care” (CRUX). Because of the effort and organizing and attention of so many strong women (and even a few men), things will change for the better as long as the broader community of the faithful continues to support this critical work. As a young Catholic, I will continue to support positive, progressive change because the Church becomes a lost cause only if we turn our backs and say nothing.