Thursday, September 1, 2011

Child abuse reaches past stained glass windows

In 34 weeks or so, my wife Allicia and I will give birth to a son (it's not official, but I am 99 percent sure that our first born will undergo circumcision, while Allicia 99 percent disagrees with me). One of the things we are most excited about, other than the lady bug sleeper, is the idea of raising our children in the Catholic faith.

Allicia and I are both converts. She converted to Catholicism when she was 13, I did it when I was 26. This isn't to say that I was some kind of anti-religious kid whose upbringing consisted of vandalizing houses of worship. My mother and father did a great job at instilling a solid Christian faith in me. Dad taught Sunday School and practically began the bus ministry at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Augusta, while Mom made sure that church on Sundays was always the highest priority.

I can't thank my parents enough for giving me this backbone of faith that made Catholicism possible for me later in life.

So it is with that faith background that Allicia and I count down the days until we get to see our children baptized. First communion, first confession, and if we are lucky, hopefully we'll be able to see at least one of our children take a vow of religious life.

We understand that not everyone gets that excited over religious events in their lives. It's not our place to judge and decide that someone is full of skubala (ancient greek for shit) because they don't want to be a part of Catholicism.

That is, until someone posts a blog post that has "I'm full of skubala" written all over it. Far be it from me, a lowly blogger who still loves playing Mario Paint, to pick fights. But I just can't help but bring to attention this blog I saw while doing a search for Catholic Parenting. In it, the author talks about she and her husband leaving Catholicism after finding out that priests from her childhood did the worst crime possible: abuse children (not specifically her, however).

She goes on to say, "I knew that the Church’s walls were not my home anymore. Those walls certainly couldn’t be trusted to protect my children. I had no faith left in the Catholic Church."

Most importantly, I’m angry that God’s children were the last priority and that Canon Law took precedent over criminal law. But unlike Rice, I haven’t completely given up on organized religion. 

 Raising my children with religion is important to me. After many careful searches, my children have a church home where I feel we can provide a safe and nurturing religious environment.

Seriously? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but no organized religion is perfect. Anything run by humans is bound to have imperfections. Was the sex abuse scandal a horrible chapter in Church history? Absolutely.

But to act like Catholicism is the only place where sex abuse takes place is ignorant. Six to 10 percent of children in public schools have been sexually abused or harassed by school employees. Yet I never see teachers vilified the way The Catholic Church has been through the past few years.

My God, you'd think that Catholicism was the only church with problems, but protestant churches have the same problem. Sexual abuse knows no boundaries. This isn't me pointing fingers at others while trying to excuse my Church for it's crimes. But I'm sick of The Catholic Church being constantly smeared while other walks of life with the exact same problem walk free.

And for this person to write that they now have a church home that appears safe is a bit naive. I'm glad she feels at peace, but what happens when the next denomination she joins has a member who abuses children. Does she leave that church? Where does it stop?

For someone to leave Catholicism solely because of a problem that exists beyond the boundaries of The Church wreaks of ignorance. Whether you are protestant or catholic, a teacher or a police officer, a parent or single person, we all have work to do when it comes to eradicating sexual abuse of children.

Leaving Catholicism because you think some other place is safer is not the answer. Making the faith you belong to safer, now that's a great place to start.

That author might have left Catholicism because of misguided fears. As for me and my wife? There isn't any other place we'd rather be.


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