Column: Catholic jilt

I’m Catholic. And I don’t know what to do.

Well, I do know what to do, I just can’t believe that I have to abandon what has been the cornerstone of my faith for the past half-century.

But, really, they have given me no choice.

It’s bad enough that they have been mired in antiquated ideologies and have been unable and unwilling to change. I can see past that, shape my relationship with that accordingly. It’s kind of like when you realize that your parents are who they are, that they are not going to change and that you are going to have to deal with their peccadilloes in order to maintain civility.

But this latest round of revelations that have come out of Pennsylvania, and the Church’s witless, clueless, senseless, selfish, unsympathetic reactions to it, are, frankly, unforgiveable.

When I was young, 10ish, my best friend and I were altar boys for two years at Holy Family Catholic Church in Davidsonville, Md. Our priest, Father Edmund Stroup, never did anything inappropriate with me, though he did let his hands linger on my shoulders for too long on several occasions. Even at that age, I remember thinking it was weird, that I was uncomfortable, though I didn’t know why.

As we went through high school, I eventually lost touch with my best friend. He got into drugs, became a cocaine addict, went to rehab. I can almost guarantee that Father Stroup’s hands lingered on my best friend’s shoulders for a lot longer than they lingered on mine, a suspicion that was only hardened when the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2002 released a list of 57 priests who had been accused of sexual abuse and Father Stroup’s name was on that list. (He had died in 2001.)

My best friend was the perfect foil, I realized later. His parents had been divorced, his mom remarried, his dad not a constant in his life. He was, as they say, prone. But these predators, they sense these things.

Even now, 40 years later, I wonder what my reaction would have been if Father Stroup’s hands had gone farther than my shoulders. I hope I would have run. But I was 10. He was my priest.

What I do know is that that experience, and the information that came from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and then Boston, and now Pennsylvania, has made me dead inside. I have nothing left to give the Catholic Church – and particularly after I see their reaction to this latest scandal.

Thousands and thousands of kids abused, youth stolen, lives ruined, and the pope and the cardinals and the bishops and the priests are more concerned about who is in charge of the Church’s wealth than they are about the welfare of their constituents or making things right.

I’ve had it. It has proven to me, once and for all, that they don’t really get it, that their preaching is hollow. I mean, could you imagine if there were any other business on the planet that was full of child molesters, how quickly it would go under? Think about what has happened to Harvey Weinstein – deservedly so, of course.

This is an entire legion of Harvey Weinsteins gathered under one roof, preying on helpless children instead of adults, and nobody takes accountability. Honestly, if they were under the purview of any one government entity, they would all be arrested, and their assets would be seized and distributed to their victims.

To be clear, my faith has not wavered. But the vehicle used to access that faith has irreparably crashed on the side of the road, engulfed in flames. I have to jump out, or I’ll be burned with it.

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