LETTER: Financial strain on N.L. Roman Catholic parishes can’t compare to suffering of victims

Saltwire Network [Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada]

March 22, 2022

Glenn Whiffen’s recent reflection on the Mount Cashel Crimes and the slow grinding of the wheels of justice should be required reading for every Catholic, whether clergy or laity.

Mr. Whiffen reminds us that the victims in this whole miserable failure are the children who were victimized, physically and sexually abused by those who were responsible for their welfare. ‘The Brothers’ went back to Ireland, but we’re still here.

We, parishioners of the St. John’s Archdiocese, may feel that we are unfairly drawn into the case as ‘vicarious defendants’, we who (most of us) never ill-treated a child in our lives. We may feel like victims, and it’s true that some priests have shared that feeling with their parishioners. Mr. Whiffen reminds us that most of us were never used and abused as disgracefully as those children in the Mount Cashel Boys’ Home.

We may experience some financial strain; we may find our religious life less convenient, our pews a bit less comfortable, but whatever pain or discomfort we may feel, it doesn’t compare with the pain of those poor boys, nor, as the Lenten season reminds us, do our discomforts compare with the torture and crucifixion of the Son of God.

The COVID pandemic reduced attendance at Masses, and it may be that attendance may never return to pre-COVID levels. It may be that we won’t need large houses of worship, and we may be able to gather in one another’s basements for Mass. The Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s gave us a glimpse of a reduced and impoverished Church and the small ‘basic’ Christian communities that might replace the magnificent basilicas and cathedrals.

Many such communities are thriving in the ‘Third World’ (what some over-optimistically refer to as the “Developing World’.) I’m sure we can learn from them.

Ed Healy,