This morning at Mass, I witnessed something I have never seen, and words still mostly fail me. /1
Our priest gave a powerful homily. He explained how poor ecclesiology has disempowered lay people &, in simple terms, how we must view this crisis as systemic. He affirmed the statement on the bishops' resignation. He concluded by calling for radical lay-led structural reform. /2
Then he sat down. And then, in the fifth row, a dad stood up. "HOW?" he pleaded. "TELL US HOW." His voice was shaking and determined and terrified. His collared shirt was matted to his back with sweat. /3
Jaws dropped. My eyes filled with tears. I've belonged to call-and-response parishes. This isn't one. This is a big, middle of the road parish in a wealthyish Southeast college town. In such contexts it's hard to imagine a more subversive act than doing what that dad just did. /4
The priest stood up again. He looked the dad in the eyes, and he answered him slowly and haltingly and thoughtfully. The whole thing was so stunning I don't even remember what he said. But what he didn't say was, "Sir, please have a seat," or "We can talk after Mass." /5
He could have cited preservation of liturgical solemnity as an excuse to dismiss the man and thus escape this terribly uncomfortable moment. Instead, he let this father's cry interrupt us. He allowed himself to be put on the spot, to answer for things he didn't do. /6
"I have a son," the dad said. "He's going to make his first communion. What am I supposed to tell him?" In his searching, halting response, the priest made space for the wrenching inadequacy of every possible response to be laid bare. /7
This was not a brief, dismissive exchange. 10 minutes at least, and the two also talked at length after mass. At the end of mass, the priest offered to invite the Bishop to the parish for a listening session. "And if he won't come, I will." /8
The holy rawness of that dad's lament and the renegotiation of power it effected transformed the experience of the liturgy in ways that far exceed my ability to articulate them in this moment. /9
People don't want finessed press releases. They want to name their betrayal out loud, in public, in sacred space, before the tabernacle, before God and one another. They want to be listened to without condescension. They don't want easy answers. They want contrition. /10
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24. aug.: The New York Times: I Stood Up in Mass and Confronted My Priest. You Should, Too.
Catholics should not keep on filling the pews every Sunday. It is wrong to support the church.
Naka Nathaniel skriver d. 23 aug. bl.a.:
"Susan Reynolds, a Catholic theologian from nearby Emory University, witnessed the exchange. She tweeted about it, and her recounting went viral. "
In a letter on Monday to the congregation, Father Mark Horak, the Jesuit priest I confronted, wrote: “If you love the church, remain within and work for its fundamental reform.”
But the church can’t be changed from the inside. It has already tried that.
Ms. Reynolds has become the lead author on a letter calling for the American bishops to resign. I’m glad that my actions inspired her. I hope the rest of the flock heeds her call.
But we should go further and demand that every ordained member of the Catholic Church resign, including the pope. If any other organization had covered up the rampant sexual abuse of children, the government would rightly shut it down. Why should the Catholic Church be any different?
I’m mad at the church administration, as I was in 2002. But now I’m also angry at the congregation. I’m upset with the people who aren’t demanding that every member of the clergy resign.
Catholics cannot keep on filling the pews every Sunday. It is wrong to support the church.
At the end of last Sunday’s service, before the recessional, the priest stopped us and kindly told my son that he had a good dad. Then the father looked at me and said the most honest thing I’ve ever heard in a church: “You and I have no influence.”
He was right. And if congregants like me have no influence, and if parents like me no longer feel safe and comfortable bringing our sons and daughters to make Communion, then the Catholic Church is beyond redemption.
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