How Catholic Priests Should Act
Updated: Mar 1, 2019
There has been a lot of talk lately about predator Catholic priests and how the Catholic church has allowed them to get away with heinous crimes against children for years. Having dealt with more than my fair share of predators in my own life as well as my children's, I know that it is NOT ok that this has been allowed to happen.It's NOT ok that they haven't been prosecuted up to this point. It's NOT ok that they have been free to live life as they please while hurting and destroying people along the way. As a follower of Jesus, I know that sexual sin is something that the early church would have cast people out for, at least until it was evident that the person had changed their ways. Jesus valued people so much that He came to die for them. He showed respect and honor to women and children when the culture He lived in generally did not. He and the early disciples were very concerned with how people who represented the Church (i.e. everyone who claimed to be a part of it) REPRESENTED it.
I don't think that I am going to heavily emphasize my spiritual beliefs in a lot of my content because I know that people all over the world are victims of abuse, regardless of their race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation and I want all of them to feel free to consume my content. Whether I agree with someone's life choices or not does not take away their value as a person and I want to help hurting people. I believe that my desire to love people comes from the God I serve and I hope that people are able to see that love shine bright through me. (P.S. It's ok for you to not agree with all of my life choices too. I don't always make the best choices either.)
I decided to write this blog post for two reasons: 1) I have seen through people's comments that many are taking the actions of those Catholic priests and the Diocese as a representation of Christianity and all churches as a whole, and 2) my recent personal experiences are relevant so I want to share them with you.
Myself and two other Youth Leaders recently took kids from our youth group and a few guests to an all-day music event called Livin' Out Loud. While we were there, one of the girls left her phone on her chair and went to stand up by the stage as a music artist was performing. While she was away from her phone, one of the guests got onto it. He thought it would be funny to replace her background image with a dick picture. She came to me upset when she saw it and I relayed it to the Head Leader. The two leaders who were there with me, including the Head Leader, are both men. We very naturally divided in our response to the incident. I comforted the fourteen-year-old girl who felt humiliated and betrayed while the men addressed the boys thought to be responsible. I went to comfort her and they went to defend her. I believe that's how we are naturally wired.
My gifts for comforting and healing were valuable as I drove a car full of hurt girls home. Girls are very relational and in that moment, friendships and romantic relationships hung in the balance, in addition to what the victim was feeling personally. We talked it out as we drove down the interstate. We talked about bad reactions, true friendship, true love, forgiveness, and their personal value. (Side note: Parents, what you tell your kids about their value is taken to heart by them, even if they act like it doesn't affect them. The pain of that moment in the car was compounded by parents telling their daughters that they hate them and that they are a mistake. Please don't say things like that to your kids, even if it's done in anger and you don't really mean it. They feel it as if you do.) There was deep emotional work done in that car and by the time we made it back home friendships were restored and the victim felt better. When we got back, the Head Leader reassured the victim (as I had done on the drive) that she did nothing wrong in reporting it and that she deserved to be safe and protected.
The Leaders met with the Pastor the day after to discuss our next steps. Since the boys weren't owning up to what happened, their parents were notified. They were given the opportunity to report the Sexual Harassment to the police before we did. The Head Leader made every effort to be respectful and loving to the boys, the victim, and the families involved while making it very clear that the behavior was unacceptable.
A few days later, after we knew what to expect form the police, the three of us Leaders went to the victim's house to discuss everything with her parents in person. We wanted to make sure that they knew we had their daughter's best interest in mind and we were making every effort to protect her. I know that the same would be true had a girl done something inappropriate to a boy , because the sex of the victim is irrelevant. Their value is in the fact that they are a person, a creation of God, who He loves and we are commanded to love because we represent Him. The way our Leadership responded made me so proud to be a part of that team! It is what SHOULD be happening in all churches that claim to represent Jesus Christ.
Those Catholic priests who hurt children out of their own selfish desires do not represent Jesus. They do not represent the Church. Jesus would say that they are children of their father, Satan, and I would agree. They should be removed from their leadership positions and they should have to serve prison time for their crimes.
As for the rest of us, abuse doesn't happen in a vacuum. People know things... People hear things. People see bruises. People notice behaviors. People need to speak out! Abuse flourishes in the darkness of secrecy just like cockroaches flourish in darkness. Let's shine a light on them!