This homily was delivered a week prior to the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report by the pastor of the parish where I would attend Mass if I were a “practicing” Catholic. I’m just an average Catholic.
I met Father Marks, who delivered this homily, at an event a year ago. Prior to his ordination, he worked in business and then as a lawyer. He’s the kind of priest who makes me miss Mass. Statistical likelihoods aside, I remind myself that any person I meet could be an awful human being. So, I don’t assume that every priest I encounter is a child predator or involved in a cover up. So when a friend shared this link, I listened.
His message of not letting evil get in the way made me think. I’ve separated my faith from the tragic abuse and cover up – the divine from the human. So why can’t I just plunk myself down in the pew and participate?
“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Jesus didn’t intend for us to ignore our sins or the sins of others in the Church. As our moms taught us, saying sorry isn’t enough. We also need to act differently. There are hundreds of Cardinal McCarricks who remain in ministry – many even seemingly rewarded with positions – even at the Vatican.
The hierarchy hasn’t driven evil out. Instead, it enables cover ups to flourish. They only take action when public outcry reaches the highest decibel or the legal system demands it. Leadership hides behind arcane, politically-driven Vatican protocols that trickle down into a warped culture of clericalism. Many, including myself, feel participating in the institutional Church makes them complicit in the hypocrisy and deceit.
Father Marks is confident in Catholicism’s future based on its 2,000 years of existence. This offers him proof of God’s intent. My Dad has said the same. That’s a long time. But Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and many other major religions also share that timeline.
Why can’t I just plunk myself down in the pew? I turn to the always helpful follow up question, “What would Jesus do?” “What would He do if abusers and those who cover it up refuse to leave the Church?”
Clean the temple out. Or one day, only the moneychangers will remain.