Viewer Response to Priestly Abuse:
We’re Outta Here

Dear Catholic Exchange:

This email is in reference to a small monthly donation that I make to Catholic Exchange. I'm sure you'll forward it to the appropriate person.

I would like to ask you to stop withdrawing my donation monthly from my checking account. My family and I have come to a difficult decision. We have been so scandalized by the behavior of Catholic priests and the huge sums of money being spent to cover up their behavior and the huge amounts of money being given to victims of abuse at the hands of pedophile priests as hush money and the blantantly unapologetic behavior of the bishops, that we have left the Church and have no intention of providing financial support for ANY Catholic organization until the Church cleans up its act!

When the Church can be honest about this unseemly behavior that appears to be rampant through the entire Church and fixes the problem we'll be back.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter

Charles F Seargent Jr and Family

Dear Mr. Seargent:

We empathize completely with you in your disgust over the behavior of both priests and the bishops who have so egregiously sinned in covering up this inexcusable scandal. Indeed, we will be running articles on our site by Rod Dreher at National Review Online [see “Boston Travesty” in today’s Edge], who has led the charge from faithful believing Catholics in calling the American hierarchy to account for this appalling sin. We make no excuses for it. We say openly and clearly that it's not a big misunderstanding. We do not stand for lame, passive voice, excuses that “mistakes were made.” The priests who committed these crimes and the bishops who repeatedly and knowingly lied to victims and exposed still more victims to the depredations of these men should be removed from their offices and made to face criminal charges. Period.

Why are we so vehement? Because the Church really is the Church that Jesus Christ founded and the betrayal of that Church by priests and bishops is especially egregious since it sins in a peculiar way, not only against men, but against God.

Now there are two ways in which we can see and respond to the sins of sinful Catholics. We can look at Judas Iscariot and say, “There's something fishy about the whole thing. I love Jesus, but Jesus was betrayed, so I'm certainly not going to support him” (which is an odd way of helping him in his darkest hour). Or we can stay with him and keep pitching like Dreher (and we) are trying to do by calling the miscreants to account.

The Church is the Body of Christ. He has no hands on earth now but yours. If you bail on the Church, you are effectively cutting off some of Christ's fingers and then expecting Him to do more work. Better to remain with the Church and scream bloody murder than to just pull out and make the job of Catholics who are trying to clean things up all the harder. If your diocese is involved in these shenanigans then I don't blame you a bit for not wanting to tithe to them. Tithe somewhere else to somebody else who is doing good works and write a letter to your bishop explaining your actions. But don't simply cut yourself off from the whole Church in a blind fury. It helps nothing and simply impoverishes your family of contact with the sacraments. And, of course, it wrongly blames the entire Church en masse for the sins of few.

In the Old Testament, the God-anointed King of Israel, David committed a horrible sin. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and then compounded it by covering up the crime by the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite. It was, like the Boston case and others, as bad as it looked. David had no excuses. And he was (as these guys will be) punished for his sins–as was proper. This meant many things, but the one thing it did not mean was that Israel was no longer chosen by God. God's covenant is not dependent on how good or bad we are: it's dependent on his faithfulness. It 's the same here. The fact that some bishops and priests (some–by no means all or even most) have committed egregious and inexcusable sin does not mean that the Church is not the Church or that God's covenant is not still in effect. To abandon that covenant is, in reality, to simply allow evil in the Church to take another victim: you. Don't let it. Stay and fight.

I'm not going to ask that you reconsider your donations to Catholic Exchange, because I don't want even the taint of money-grubbing to intrude here. I ask only that you reconsider your decision to leave the Church. If giving to Catholic causes–even causes that agree whole-heartedly with you about the need to expose and stop this abuse and coverup–is problematic, then consider directing your funds to something else, like refugee relief or prolife efforts. But the main thing is: stay in the Church and help fight the good fight. If the apostles had done what you are proposing to do and just bailed out in disgust once Judas' corruption was exposed, where would we be?

Mark Shea

Senior Content Editor

Catholic Exchange

Editor's Note: To contact Catholic Exchange, please refer to our Contact Us page.

Please note that all email submitted to Catholic Exchange or its authors (regarding articles published at CE) become the property of Catholic Exchange and may be published in this space. Published letters may be edited for length and clarity. Names and cities of letter writers may also be published. Email addresses of viewers will not normally be published.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage