I saw a couple interviewed on TV struggling with the shame overwhelming the Catholic Church in recent days. These people are not accused of any wrong-doing at all, but feeling the heat of guilt (shame) by association. And what is up with this mess anyway? Right? But there you have it.
I am Catholic too. I am a bad Catholic, but I am certified and confirmed. I was raised Protestant, and in fact 95% of my worship (more really) is Protestant. But I am still Catholic too. I still hold on to hope that Pope Francis will work out what a pope should work out – even if that means resignation. He has been such a hero of the faith – except for this terrible stain on the church. And as of yet, I have no reason to believe that he personally has (or has had) involvement in the sex abuse or its cover-up. But questions along those lines are mounting, and their answers sure seem slow in coming….
Dealing with humiliation for your faith is something new to most of us. Somehow through the centuries being Christian – even (and maybe especially) being Catholic – has been a source of pride actually. How ironic is that for an assembly of believers/disciples who follow a crucified Jew?
Sex abuse and rape of children by church leaders, though, is not actually unique to Catholics, and neither is the cover-up. In fact, I belong to both the Catholic Church and the Churches of Christ, and I have found it to be a problem for both.
Embracing the shame and humility – perhaps not for the crimes and cover-ups (at least not personally), but because of association – is and has been a challenge for disciples since the very beginning of the church. Jesus gets a pass today on the whole virgin-birth thing, but he is the only one that gets that pass, and that was coming under scrutiny for the first generation of disciples in a deeply personal and humiliating way. But if we are going to be cruciform, which surely as followers of Christ we should be, then it is time to explore this challenge.
We follow a convict who claims to lead us to Eternal Life. That is truly ironic, actually. So ironic that we might suffer humiliation for daring to believe him.