A Season of Judgment, and Purifying Fire

Patheos blog

December 2, 2018

By Rebecca Bratten Weiss

Going to mass, this past year, has not been easy. First, there is always the danger, no matter which local parish I attend, of running into one of the people who harassed and libeled me at my former academic post. When not in church I can amuse myself by giving them sly, knowing looks – as though they have a booger hanging out of their nostril, or toilet paper on their shoe, and I’m not going to say – but this seems not quite a fitting attitude for worship.

Then there was my family’s mounting frustration with our former parish priest, an authoritarian individual who seemed utterly unaware of the basics of theology, but instead pulled deranged scripture exegesis out of thin air, while also treating his congregation as though we were village idiots desperately in need of his enlightenment. We finally had enough, left the parish, and have been the proverbial “roaming catholics” ever since.

Then, of course, the sex abuse scandal broke, and it wasn’t just the horror of the details: it was that they clearly hadn’t learned from the last go-around. And, to judge from the behavior of many bishops, are still refusing to learn. In the months since we first heard of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, so many of my friends have left the church, and I can’t blame them. And many of us who remain, meanwhile, are asking ourselves: how can we stay, without being complicit?

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