Thought-Provoking Reads, vol. 11: Catholic Women Speak to the Church in Crisis

Catholic Women’s Forum, “Letter to Pope Francis from Catholic Women”:

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We write to you, Holy Father, to pose questions that need answers.

We are Catholic women deeply committed to our faith and profoundly grateful for Church teachings, the Sacraments, and the many good bishops and priests who have blessed our lives.

Our hearts are broken, our faith tested, by the escalating crisis engulfing our beloved Church. We are angry, betrayed and disillusioned. The pain and suffering of the victims never ends, as each news cycle brings more horrific revelations of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, cover-ups, and deceit—even at the Church’s highest levels.

Kendra Tierney, Catholic All Year, “The Scandal That Just Won’t Stop: Sackcloth and Ashes II”:

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One of my intentions for the forty days of prayer and fasting for #sackclothandashes has been that ALL of the evil in our Church that has been hiding in shadow will be brought into the light. . . . But I did not expect this.

…As Cardinal Ercole Consalvi is reported to have asked Napoleon Bonaparte, when the French emperor threatened to crush the Church, “If in 1,800 years we clergy have failed to destroy the Church, do you really think that you’ll be able to do it?”

If we believe that the Catholic Church is the One True Church, that the Eucharist is the True Presence, we are stuck with it. We must say with St. Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

So, here I am and here I will stay. Wounded, bewildered, but Catholic.

Claire Swinarski, The Catholic Feminist, “Minisode: The Scandalized, Sanctifying Church”[Podcast]:

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If you had a hard time going to Mass on Sunday, if you doubted + despaired, if you prayed “God, are you even listening to me?”, this one is for you. Lord, to whom else could we go?

Michele Chronister, My Domestic Monastery, “This Is What a Father Does”:

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There is simply no explanation, and no excuse. I sincerely hope that you have a priest or bishop or someone in your corner of the world that is showing you what a father’s love should look like right now.

But do you know what? I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure that out. When Andrew and I were talking about what sorts of responses were appropriate to the recent rounds of scandal, I asked him, “Andrew, as a father, how would you respond if someone hurt your child like this?” A look sufficed to confirm what I already knew – he would hold nothing back.

AnneMarie Miller, Sacrifice of Love, “How I’m Stepping Forward in Hope”:

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As we grapple with the abuses and atrocities that have been (and continue to be) committed, I’ve found that we can get swept up in the noise and chaos of it all. While it is very good, important, and necessary to speak about the crisis and become informed about the facts of the situation, it is very easy to move into the realm of doing before thinking, speaking before praying, and worrying before trusting. Just a few days after the reports from Pennsylvania were made public, I found myself becoming agitated. The more I read, the more anxious I grew. While it is appropriate to have an amount of outrage and displeasure in the abuses and cover-ups, I found myself tipping into a place of disquiet. I was not embracing the peace of Christ, and I was not placing my trust fully in Him.

Christy Isinger, Shannon Evans, Megan Hjelmstad, and Laura Fanucci, Blessed Is She, “Grieving With You: On the Catholic Clergy Abuse + What We Can Do”:

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We are in the midst of a dark, grave, and serious crisis within the Church. The Catholic clergy abuse crisis has too long festered in secrecy and darkness. The vulnerable have been abused and destroyed callously by the very ministers of Christ who are meant to help guide, heal, and form souls in the Faith. We are witnessing only another round of these crimes being brought to the light. And yet, for the most part, we lack the leadership we so desperately desire to see from those in the hierarchy of our Church.

Sisters, we are beloved daughters of the King, baptized children of God. We’re baptized in the name of Christ as priest, prophet, and king. Now, more than ever, we need to defend the Church we love. We need to rise as members of the laity to protect and guide our Church in one of her greatest hours of need. We need to bring our unique feminine genius to the forefront when so many have failed in their vocations and calls.

Elizabeth Scalia, Word on Fire, “Can the Crisis in the Church Lead Us to Something Wonderful?”:

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My first response to the stories about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and then to the Grand Jury report out of Pennsylvania, had been to go more deeply inward with prayer, fasting, and acts of repentance for the sake of the Whole and Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. This we must all do if we desire her healing.

Recently on Twitter a friend questioned why layfolk should be charged to take up any bit of the work of penance when the great sins that have roiled us originated with priests and bishops. I could only answer that the white blood cells cannot refuse to do their job against an infected heart and still expect the Body to heal.

Jennifer Fulwiler, The Jennifer Fulwiler Show, “Hallie Lord and Meg Hunter-Kilmer Join the Show & I Talk to Listeners About the Current State of Their Faith” [Podcast]:

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Hallie Lord comes on with the fire. She reveals the tiredness she’s seen in the Church, and calls out the futility of “liberal” and “conservative” labels. Meg Hunter-Kilmer and I have strong words for Catholic bishops. And Catholics call from all over the country to tell me how their faith is honestly doing in light of the scandals.

Haley Stewart, Carrots for Michaelmas, “The Church, My Mother”:

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We knew before converting that the Church was full of sinners and that what makes it holy is not the behavior of its priests and bishops. We entered the Church with eyes wide open.

But that doesn’t make the recent allegations of abuse any less heartbreaking. I wanted to believe that anyone responsible for covering up clerical abuse was no longer in a position of authority. Tragically, the past few weeks of news have revealed that this isn’t the case.

Jenny Uebbing, Mama Needs Coffee, “Pray, Fast, Sign”:

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I’ve heard people complain that prayer doesn’t change anything, that prayer is useless in the face of such evil. I get it. I also wonder, since what prayer changes is actually, well, us, whether a deeper and more sincere prayer life in the lives of some of our priests could have spared us a universe of heartache.

…It feels like the sky is falling, but in reality, all is still as it was before.

The difference is, now we know about it.

Meg Hunter-Kilmer, Held By His Pierced Hands, “Please Don’t Leave Jesus: A Homily for this Sunday”:

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My brothers and my sisters, I am begging you: please don’t leave. Not for my sake or even for the Church’s sake. Please don’t leave Jesus. I know how hard it is for some of you to walk through those doors, knowing what you know about the sins of your leaders. I know that for some of you, just coming to Mass today was a heroic act. But I beg you to keep coming back, for the sake of the suffering heart of Jesus who is miserable enough without having to miss you on top of it.

You don’t come here for me, or for our bishop, or for the Pope. You come here for Jesus Christ who lived and died for you. You come here to be fed with the bread that gives eternal life. You come here because as bad as things can be in the Catholic Church, there’s nowhere else to go: if you’re looking for Jesus Christ present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, you don’t have a lot of options….

Don’t leave Jesus because of Judas. Then evil wins. Stay with us and fight. Fight for holiness, fight for justice, fight for the protection of the innocent. And pray. Pray for the survivors. Pray for those whose faith is shaken. Pray for the purification of our Church.


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