Catholic Church Sex Abuse Cover Up: Time to Go

I wasn’t going to write about the unconscionable cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. I don’t have anything nice to say.

I am angry and it feels horribly unnatural to be angry at the church that I love. But the church I love doesn’t molest children and certainly would never cover it up and let victims multiply exponentially to maintain a sham of integrity.

Except they did.

It’s incongruous with the church I know who serves the poor, feeds the hungry, cares for the sick, educates, and indoctrinates. I have spent much of my life surrounded by Catholics.   Like most Christians, they are people who live consciously, generously, and with a fierce commitment to love and serve others.

Trying to reconcile the beauty of my faith with this grave betrayal feels impossible. Yet, I know that all things are possible with God and I pray for healing. I pray for the victims who were violated, shushed, ignored, and invisible to the church who betrayed them. I pray for those who served on the Pennsylvania grand jury who investigated these atrocities and advocated for their exposure foraging a pathway to justice for victims and a forthright accountability of the Catholic Church. I pray for the many good priests who dedicate their lives to the teachings of the church, who follow the rules, and who imitate the life of Christ in their ministry. I pray for Jesus, whose holiness was shamelessly used to facilitate these crimes. I pray for the grace to move past this.

But in all my fervor for mercy, I can’t seem to muster a prayer for the priests who committed these crimes or for anyone complicit in its cover-up. Mercy is compassion. It’s not clandestine. Jesus’s mercy is inexhaustible, but for now, mine seems to have reached its limit.

At Mass, our pastor addressed the issue with weariness, sadness, and sincerity. He talked about how Jesus asked his disciples if they wanted to leave him. “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’” (John 6:68-69).

There are a lot of places I can go to find God. I don’t have to stay in the Roman Catholic Church. There are a lot of other admirable denominations. But it’s not me that needs to go. It’s not those who join me in the pews either. We may be flawed, broken, fallible, and desperate for mercy, but we are also sincere in our love for Christ, our faith, and our commitment to serving others. We are middle-age mamas, grandmothers, fathers, brothers, children, and young adults. We represent different races, generations, and income levels. We are children of God. We are the church. We deserve better from those who lead our church. We have a right to truth, transparency, and the prosecution of these transgressions. Anyone in the church’s hierarchy that can’t give us that, needs to go.

This tragedy’s ending has not been written. And no words, however powerful, pure, or poised, will be the catalyst for change. It will only be through the tireless commitment to truth, an unending quest for justice, and an active pursuit of Christ’s teachings that this will reach the best possible resolution. I want the church that I love, the church as it was intended to be when Peter asked the Lord where else he could possibly go, to thrive. That will never happen if any part of the church remains in the dark. All of it must be unshrouded. All of it is meant to shine.

As for me, there are many places I can go to be with God. But, Roman Catholic Church, I am not going anywhere. I am not among those who need to go.  But I suspect you know who does.

To read more:



19 thoughts on “Catholic Church Sex Abuse Cover Up: Time to Go

  • August 29, 2018 at 1:13 am

    I grew up in the Catholic church and know someone who was molested by our priest. He was a good friend of my parents and we were sad when he was “moved” to another congregation in another state. When his crimes were finally brought to light he was too old to be sent to prison and the list of his victims was sadly long. Witnessing the devastation to someone I loved made it very clear, that it was time for me to go.

    • August 29, 2018 at 2:29 am

      Amy, I am so sorry. Your comment breaks my heart and I so appreciate you sharing it. I also understand your decision to leave the church. We all have such different faith journeys we are asked to walk. I am sorry that part of yours and your friends was paved with this painful experience. That’s why anyone associated with causing this kind of devastation needs to go. I will offer a mass for your friend.

  • August 28, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    Lara, you speak for the rest of us who don’t have the words to express our frustrations, the feeling of betrayal. I love reading your blog. My heart goes out to the priests who are blameless, but will be heaped into the pit with the guilty.

    • August 28, 2018 at 10:21 pm

      Holly, I share your compassion for the guiltless priests and there are many. I have listened to several priests speak about the abuse and cover-up and their pain is palpable. The devastation from this reaches beyond what I doubt we will ever fully know. All the more reason, for the church to be forthright so that healing can truly happen.

  • August 28, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    I liked the priests and nuns that I grew up with. I did not experience misconduct by a priest or nun. Was I just lucky? It does make me sad that these people were in the Catholic church abusing our children. I am trying to deal with it also. I believe in Pope Francis and believe he is the real deal. I hope he can lead the Catholic church through this.

    • August 28, 2018 at 10:11 pm

      Alexa, I also grew up around priests and nuns and never experienced abuse or misconduct. I think that is because the majority in religious life are true servants of God. But anyone who has committed these crimes or participated in any cover-up needs to be held accountable. Anyone would ask the same for their child. We owe this to all the victims and it is the only way to protect others from the same horrors.

  • August 28, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Lara, you have a gift for saying what needs to be said in the correct manner. People need to remember it’s not the whole Church that has done wrong. There are hundreds of wonderful priests around the world. Thank you for sharing. I always love reading your blog!

    • August 28, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      Thank you, Candace. You are correct there are so many wonderful servant-priests having to endure this hardship and skepticism. My prayers for them continue. This issue has nothing to do with priests. There are pedophiles and there are priests. There cannot be one in the same.

  • August 28, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Thank you for writing this Lara. Absolutely beautiful.

    • August 28, 2018 at 9:56 pm

      Thank you, Heather. I am sorry for all of us who love the church that it had to be written.

  • August 28, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Lara, I know I always tell you how perfectly you express with written word what a lot of feel….but this is truly the most powerful, and brave and beautifully honest post yet. Perfectly, graciously and mercifully written. Thank you❤️

    • August 28, 2018 at 9:50 pm

      Susan, you are incredibly generous and your words of grace are such a gift to me.

  • August 28, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Lara, you have put into words our feelings. Thank you.

    • August 28, 2018 at 9:46 pm

      Roger – so many lay people are hurting over this. Especially knowing that victims of sexual abuse are watching how this is handled, it seems ever important to do it the light of God’s grace instead of in the secrecy that is at the source of this mess.

  • August 28, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Amen. The trees must be pruned. It has been quoted that 4% are involved. I need 96% to stand up against this. I need the ones who knew and sought to cover, to step down from pedestals, and go. I need those who are left, to stand wirh their humility, and lead. I am with you sweet sister. Thank you for lifting the lid

    • August 28, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      Thank you so much for this, Lara. I won’t leave either. The leadership who are corrupt need to go. It saddens me to even think about leaving my faith.

      • August 28, 2018 at 9:48 pm

        I agree, Lisa. And I certainly don’t think God wants us to go. If we go, it’s another victory for evil.

    • August 28, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      Tricia I love your words…..always so powerful and true.

    • August 28, 2018 at 8:35 pm

      Tricia- I agree. And it needs to happen now. There have to be fail-safes to keep this secrecy and abuse from ever happening again. Apologies are hollow without action. I don’t know what I can do to help “prune the trees,” but I am right there with you, as are so many of the faithful, watching to make sure the church is restored to her rightful throne.

Comments are closed.