Are You Struggling to Keep the Faith?

I’ve been approached by so many moms and dads who are struggling within their marriages and families in regard to the child sex abuse and cover up. One spouse is reticent to continue sending their children to Catholic school, contributing to collections or going to Mass. The other spouse struggles to be keeper of the faith while dealing with their own disillusionment.  Please share your marital and family experiences in responding to this issue.

27 thoughts on “Are You Struggling to Keep the Faith?

  1. I am a survivor of priest sexual abuse. My comment to the parents who are struggling is to have an honest and open age appropriate discussion on the parts of the body that NO ONE is allowed to touch and if it should happen the child can come to the parent and he or she will not be judged and will be believed. I did not have this protection from my parents and 3 catholic priests went on to rape me for years. As far as going to Mass and contributing that is a personal decision and should be based on your value system and conscience.

  2. Struggling to keep the faith? No. My faith is in Jesus Christ, not in humans. Continue going to mass? Sure. The mass has not failed me. And should I one day have grandchildren I would hope that my son and daughter-in-law send their children to catholic school. Put money in the collection basket? NO. Not until I meet with the monsignor at my church to determine how I can support St. Albert’s without supporting Justin Rigali and his criminal behavior. If there is no way that I can contribute to my local church without a cut going downtown, then I will bank the donation until a way is found. Meanwhile, I will continue going to church without feeling guilty. After all, Jesus did not charge admission to the last supper. I do not have to pay to receive communion.

    1. Buddy,

      Wow, your comment here really encouraged me. I have been struggling with all of this, but you are right, the Mass has not failed us, and neither has Jesus Christ. I totally agree with you on the collection basket. Very good points, thank you.

  3. I saw a priest in clerics today at a CYO track meet. I was immediately put off at his presence, ie, “Why are you here around our children and what do you want?”
    I am a grandmother. My advice is find a faith community that makes sense to you. Sometimes it is a stretch for me to believe all that has been put forward by a church so politically entrenched in keeping its money and power. Maybe this is a sign that what we have been doing with regards to litugy, church and ordination needs to change.

  4. I have been a principal of a Catholic school for 11 years. I am struggling along with my school families. What we have to remember is that the priests are men, flawed like us. Our faith lies with God. While this sounds simple, it is tough. Keep praying. Focus on God.

  5. I miss the Catholic Church I grew up with. I loved the twelve years of my Catholic school education. I loved the community I grew up in. When my children were old enough to attend school, my husband and I wanted them to at least have their elementary years be in an environment where they could pray to God in a loving, nuturing environment. I do resent the fact,that I have to confess to a Catholic priest my sins, and not knowing if the priest I am confessing to had made grave sins against children. I thought that it is such a hypocritical thing to do. Why would Jesus not forgive me directly, when his advocates our flawed also? I do feel very bad for the priests who did not abuse children and now people wonder about their behavior. We should try not to falter our faith, priests are not God, but I wish they would have respected the vocation and what it means to be a priest. Growing up we were taught to respect and honor priests. The priests and the bishops that protected them lost their congregations trust. That is a hard thing to regain.

  6. I’m a parent going to church regularly & sending my child to Catholic school, contributing for collection as well.
    In our part not even 1% of priests are involved in these activities against the church. Here they are more after money & position only, very rarely getting linked with girls-which come to light very quickly & people taking active part in those priests removed from the churches having direct contact with them.
    I think it is better to stay in & cleanse the system than moving elsewhere-where far greater sinful pastors pretending(decieving) far holier than though acts to garner more wealth in this world.

    1. DMD,
      I can understand your feelings about “moving somewhere else” for your spiritual support— sometimes there is nowhere else to go. But we do have the bible– God provided it for us. His Word , when all is said and done, is all we need.

  7. I am not going to church but I miss it. I’m not comfortable going to church and not contributing to the collection because I feel I am not paying my way while using resources such as heating & electricity. The parish needs to pay upkeep of the building, salary for staff and priest. Someone told me not to let religion (man-made) get in the way of my faith. I am considering trying a different faith. I can somewhat understand priests are fallible and sin but I cannot forgive or excuse numerous and intentional coverups up through the hierarchy. Priests having affairs with adult women caused more uproar with the diocese than assaulting innocent children. I am outraged, angry, disappointed and dumbfounded. I am embarrassed to say I am Catholic.

  8. I am not struggling to keep my faith but my faith in my priests and the hierarchy of the catholic church is a real struggle. My faith is in God and not in the priests. Justice will be served, I believe strongly in that.

  9. I find it extremley diffucult to continue being a Catholic. As a father I cannot explain to my 14 year old son why this went on for so many years, and nothing was done to stop the pedophilia. The pastor of my parish is openly gay , and is a diffucult, weird person. I have no desire to go to church in neighboring parishes , because I feel like that isn’t my community. I cannot attend a Protestant
    church, because of my Catholic upbringing.
    I feel no desire to attend Sunday mass anymore. Everytime I plan to attend , I just can’t bring myself to go, although I feel like I’m breaking a Commandment. I WON’T go back to church until the church fixes this problem, fairly and wisely.

  10. My faith is as strong as it ever has been. Christ’s message to the faithful is as simple as when he first delivered it centuries ago. We, the Parishioners are the core of this faith, and it only takes a few minutes of simple contemplation everyday to ensure that our personal relationship with God exists.

    I do not however, have any faith in the Leadership of this Archdiocese, the mid-level Management of the Parishes (Bishops and Monsignors), or Rome.

    What these men have done is to create this powerful monopoly, a giant corporation who has hijacked the true mission of Catholicism and turned it into a corporation, which at its core is their self-centered desire to preserve their power and affluent lifestyle at the expense of the Parishioner. Through our financial contributions, we empower their misdeeds.

    I have not contributed a dime to my Parish since the District Attorney’s Report was published. I will not be an accomplice to the current tragedies that are unfolding before us by providing money, the primary source of the Archdiocese power, to assist them in their campaign of cover up, counter attack, cry “anti-Catholicism, or continue the current course of non apologetic silence.

    Anyone who has worked in a large corporation knows there are no secrets, people knew these travesties were happening, the leaders looked the other way or deflected the issues, the rank and file Priests were mum or too scared of the authoritative environment that existed to raise their voice in protest, or at least leak the issues to the faithful who might have been able to create a wave of protest. I’m sure many now feel guilty for their lack of courage.

    We, the Parishioners of Philadelphia, are currently at a critical crossroads. Our only recourse is to financially impact the Archdiocese. True, this will hit our individual Parishes as well, but what other choice do we have?

    My expectation is the Archdiocese will try to wait this out, hope that the voices of dissent get tired, and that we all go away so they can get back to business as usual. If they are hit in the pocketbook, hopefully we can wear them down. This will take time, conviction on our part, and an unwavering desire from all of us to reshape our Church into what it truly should be.

    I for one am prepared to spend the rest of my life working towards this goal. It is my faith that taught me that doing the right thing and making sacrifices for my fellow man is the fundamental nature of what defines me in my faith.

    1. There IS an answer for your dilemma , and that of so many Catholics: Learn the Gospel that the Catholic Church has not provided to you– the Gospel of Grace that Christ revealed to Apostle Paul [the apostle of the Gentiles]. Start with the letter to the Romans. This gospel is not contained in any other portion of the scriptures. It was hidden in God until revealed to Paul by Christ from heaven. That is why Paul calls it “the mystery.”
      I could go on and on.

  11. My husband and I have had countless discussion/arugements about attending Church. I continue to go with my children, but I sit in the pew and feel angry, empty and at times like a hypocrit. This wall of silence that the hierarchey continues to put up is just adding to growing resentment toward the Church. I think it is time for more priests to speak up and out instead of remaining silent. I don’t know what the future of the Catholic Church will be, but there definitely needs to be change. I am going through the motions and praying for CHANGE for the sake of my children and everyone elses.

  12. My faith in God is alive and well and growing. My trust in the Catholic church is shattered. I now choose to worship in an Episcopal church near my home. As a life long catholic in my sixties this was not an easy decision to make but I could no longer bring myself to walk in a Catholic church on Sunday’s. I don’t expect to see the Catholic church clean itself up in my lifetime.

  13. What a wonderful discussion!! The men and women on here are doing their faith a great service!! Keep working to reclaim your church, your community, your peace of mind.

  14. I am a graduate of 16 years of Catholic school. I faithfully went to mass every weekend and convinced my husband (who is not Catholic) that we had to marry in the church. I have not been inside a church since the Phila. Grand Jury Report. I am tired of defending a church that is ok with these abuses.
    I am not sure what we are going to do once we have children. I can’t imagine introducing children to this community

  15. Daniel, your powerful commentary is exactly how I feel. I wish everyone could read it to raise awareness. I am no longer contributing after over sixty years of supporting the church. How can I encourage my children and grandchildren to remain faithful to the Catholic Corporation? My faith and prayer life are stronger than ever, but I miss my community. This is a daily struggle. I decided to attend the noon mass on Monday offered by my parish. A priest residing in the city who announced several months ago at Sunday mass that he was originally a priest in a New Jersey diocese and now living in Philadelphia was the celebrant. Not close to retirement age, I found myself questioning why he was suddenly in Philadelphia and thanking our pastor for the opportunity to celebrate mass. Instead of feeling the peace that mid-week mass usually brings, I found myself wondering and suspicious. Can this all be innocent? Yes. But the silence, cover-ups, and secrecy have forever shattered my trust.

  16. I have been attending Mass with an empty sense of hypocrisy since our pastor got up just after the February report came out and basically told us not to believe everything we hear, that the grand jury had nothing new to report, and that the media is anti-Catholic. I continue to go because my youngest child is an 8th grader in our parish school. He loves it there and I don’t want to take anything away from his last few months at the school he has gone to for eight years. My 17 year old goes to a Diocesan High School and is an “old school” Catholic who would not receive communion in a high Episcopal church we attended with friends in January. He’s pretty disgusted by the recent chain of events, but cannot imagine being any place else. My oldest is a freshman in college who spent four years at a Jesuit high school, has gone to Mass twice at college (once was parents’ weekend!) but comes with us freely when he is home. My husband is an original “pagan baby” who has been totally supportive of raising our children in the Catholic church and schools. While he has been an active school parent and comes to church with us most of the time (not as much recently), I’d say the likelihood of his conversion has taken a nosedive. How could I possibly expect otherwise?

    Earlier this week, I took a deep breath and read the grand jury report for myself. I was truly sick — not just about the abuse, but about the reality of the shuffling and all of the lives that didn’t have to be ruined. The report gave me the courage to write a letter to our pastor, describing how I felt when he delivered his defensive sermon and letting him know that we need priests who aren’t afraid to share our outrage. That we need to feel welcome to be part of the change. That the church will continue to decline if “we the people” cannot reclaim what has been taken from us.

    After reading these heartfelt posts, I also have the courage to put a stamp on that envelope.

  17. Thanks to all who are open to share their thoughts and feelings on this matter. I am heartbroken. A lifelong Catholic I feel like my little dream has been shattered of all I thought the church stood for. My kids are 11,4,5. The 11 year old very rigid and loving his Sunday morning church routine. What do I tell him? I feel like a hypocrite going to Mass. I wonder when I get Holy COmmunion where that priests hand have been. I know not ALL priests are like those named in the grand jury but it’s hard for me to figure out WHICH one to trust. And all the hierarchy! Is this all necessary? The secrecy, the hierarchy, the wealth, the power, the amount of respect is lowly lay people are expected to give–over the years it just breeds corruption. It just seems with all the power and money and hierarchy that IS THE CHURCH NOW it is not what Jesus would want. It has become corrupt. Just think if this was a political party. I am a fan of George Washington and the great men of our revolutionary war period. Those men revolted for our freedom. They revolted against England and its taxes and control. We, the lay people of the church need to revolt against the church and the way it has become. When there is corruption, clean up is needed. This is true with anything in life. Very basic- there is a mess, ya clean it up. Problem is church is not cleaning it up. We lay people are trying to but we have no real power– do we??? I am really thinking of stopping Mass. Mass is beautiful but it is entwined with the priest saying it. I cannot get past the fact that a priest could have just abused a child, went to confession, said three Hail Mary’s and now can serve me communion. I know they are not perfect. I am not asking them to be perfect. Only God is perfect. But, admit your mistakes, don’t cover them up, disclose information– you are not above the law–treat us lay people more as your equals- let us help you establish checks and balances, let us help you run OUR church for fiscal responsibility, for LESS chance of corruption, let priests marry and women to become priests- no more shortage of priests now!

  18. I will add this: When the Masses are empty. When there are no more men becoming priests and when donation simply STOP and the church is forced to sell its fancy cardinal mansions on million dollar parcels of land–only then will the church cleanse itself and we will see real reform and we will see the original humble beginnings of the church from Jesus’ time- the way it was suppose to be all a long. People leaving and no donations giving will equal change. The question to this group reading this is how willing are you to really take that challenge? TO leave and to stop giving to the collection basket? We are better off buying a gift card to a homeless man for mcdonald’s food then putting money in the donation basket.
    But perhaps the bigger question is this: How do we reach out to the people NOT involved in this web site and make them aware, educated, empowered. How do we influence them?? We all need to take firm stand. Reform is gravely needed. The time is past due.

  19. My husband and I have not been to Mass since the first announcement was made in February. We feel betrayed and lied to by an organization we were taught to trust. We have 4 children and 1 on the way. We also personally know 3 Priests who are on the list and one who is currently on trial and this is also disheartening. I loved being Catholic, I was very devout and I love Mass but right now I have to decide what is best for our family and until we can make a unified decision, out of Mass it will be. The Church needs to change in Philadlephia, I was upset after the last grand jury report and almost coverted to another religion but I figured that would not solve the issues. I pray each day that God will guide us to the right path.

  20. Many of the priests involved in the scandal seem to have several things in common, they were very effeminate, worldly and arrogant. I do not think that they abused children because they are gay, but check out this article which may explain why they were so successful at destroying innocent:
    As early as the 1990’s, my friend, whose brother was abused, told me that she couldn’t receive communion from an effeminate priest because based on her brother’s experience, it was likely that they were living a lie. Just like the founding fathers of the church, in order for people to trust the church, it’s time for self-confession and faith.

    1. To “God help us”– I am very sorry about the boy who was abused by a priest.
      But what is up with that article you linked? It provides no modern-day answers to the centuries-old problem of clerical sex abuse. Instead it contains all sorts of troubling, unscientific, unintelligent “stuff” on the subject of sexuality.
      Using terms like, “Homopropaganda, Homo-clique, Homoheresy, Homolobby,”… surely it was written from a monastery cell in the dark ages…or maybe on the wall of a jr high bathroom in the 1970’s? It seems to be based mostly on fear and hatred.

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