Predatory-priest victim, Catholic writer can’t exit church they mistrust

Patheos / Godzooks: The Faith in Facts Blog

July 21, 2020

By Rick Snedeker

“Love drew Francis back to Mass on Christmas last year,” wrote New York Times opinion writer Elizabeth Bruenig in an essay published this week — “‘Pray for Your Poor Uncle,’ a Predatory Priest Told His Victims.”

“Frances” is a pseudonym. Bruenig used it in her article to protect the identity of a “tall, broad-shouldered man nearing 60” who related to her his deeply troubling youthful abuse by an infamous Catholic cardinal (then a priest), the now-defrocked pedophile and serial sexual abuser of young men, Theodore McCarrick. Among the Vatican charges that caused McCarrick to be “laicized” in February, according to a Washington Post article, were “soliciting sex during confession and committing ‘sins’ with minors and adults ‘with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.’”

By the end of her moving essay, it is clear that Bruenig and Francis have one common compulsion due to their shared Catholicism, a tenacious need to not leave the church, despite mounting, worsening and irrefutable evidence in recent decades of the institution’s profound and systemic depravities.

This is what I assume most atheists, including myself, find so disquieting about the unending waves of sexual abuse and assault confirmations against priests and Protestant pastors that have soaked the world this new millennia. That — still — many if not most of the faithful’s professed love of “God” leaves them curiously unable to break free of once trusted and honored men of the cloth, now revealed as predatory perverts, and the sacred religious institutions they represent, now revealed as appallingly complicit.

In fact, Francis didn’t even recognize it was abuse when it was happening. That’s how such ecclesiastical abuse works. The faiths and their abusers are conferred with such sanctified authority, nearly absolute, no one could imagine either being involved in such bald-faced mendacity. Which is to say, even if some behavior seemed wrong, the victim must be mistaken.

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