I don’t need to believe that my church is perfect. But I have learned that my personal response to stories of child abuse is so strong that it prevents me from seeing any other truth. As a Catholic, I kept telling myself that the evil of some priests and bishops does not obviate the church’s teaching. But the deeper I immersed myself in details of the crimes and the stories of the victims, my grief and fury distorted and overwhelmed logic.
The fault was mine. But any institution ”” sacred or secular ”” that has to depend on deception, and the willingness of its people to be deceived, to maintain its legitimacy will not get away with it for long. These days, the attempt to withhold or suppress information doesn’t work to protect authority, but rather to undermine it….
I did not agree with the way Father Neuhaus answered that question when faced with the American Catholic Church’s worst-ever crisis. But he was not wrong to ask it.