FAITH IN FOCUS America. The Jesuit Review.
Every summer, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, where I reside and attend church, offers a Quo Vadis (“Where are you going?” in Latin) discernment retreat.
High school boys gather at a local Catholic college with seminarians, priests and others for fellowship, prayer and guided discussions to help young men explore God’s potential call to the priesthood.
The four days are filled with opportunities for Mass, adoration, Liturgy of the Hours and confession.
During recreational time, the boys along with the seminarians and priests play sports, hike, talk and eat good food.
I have six children, three of them boys, and after much prayer and discernment, my husband and I decided not to send our 15-year-old son, who has already said he would consider the beautiful vocation of priesthood, to Quo Vadis this year.
My husband and I desire to support and encourage vocations. I come from a family that has produced several, including a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia in Nashville and a diocesan priest.
We daily pray for the good clergy who have served our family, and we ask God to send more workers into the vineyard. I recognize the great need in dioceses across the United States for an increase in vocations, especially within my own, where priests are retiring at a faster rate than men are being
My husband and I are saddened my son missed this unique experience for Catholic high school boys.
But after last summer’s revelations of systemic sexual abuse and its cover-up within the highest levels of the church—the McCarrick scandal, followed by the Pennsylvania grand jury report and the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield in West Virginia—I do not feel confident that the bishops can answer the same question they want my son to consider: Quo vadis? Where are you going? And why should we, why should my son, follow you?
I do not feel confident that the bishops can answer the same question they want my son to consider: Quo vadis? Where are you going?
Archbishop William E. Lori has written about the measures he has taken to ensure accountability for abusers and to foster greater lay involvement in the archdiocese following the first round of the sexual abuse crisis in 2002.
Some of his reforms include establishing rigorous vetting systems for seminarians, clergy and lay employees who interact with minors; overseeing the development of programs to help children recognize inappropriate adult advances; ensuring the immediate referral of accusations to the police; implementing a lay review board; and establishing protocol to notify affected parishes of credibly accused clergy. The number of abuse cases has reduced drastically since the diocese implemented these safety measures, a fact that cannot be overlooked in our current church climate.
Still, the average lay Catholic, myself included, knew nothing of the depth of the scandal before last summer. We are still, even one year later, reeling from the revelations. Efforts to reform the clerical culture within the seminaries and the church at large that directly or indirectly enabled sexual predators have been incremental and slow going at best. Much of what I have heard from the church over the course of the last year in letters, newspaper columns and online articles amounts to: “Yes, but here is what we have done to protect people since 2002, and here is how these measures have worked.”
My trust in the institutional church has been broken and will take a great deal of time to rebuild.
While I am glad safety measures exist and are indeed effective, the fact is my trust in the institutional church has been broken and will take a great deal of time to rebuild. I believe, however, there are some basic things the hierarchy can do to help parents like me. It would have helped, for instance, if before returning to business as usual—and Quo Vadis definitely falls into that category as a business as usual—the bishops had met with parents to address concerns about safety and faith formation, especially if the bishops want parents to entrust their children into the church’s hands for four days.
To be fair, the vocations director did hold a meeting with parents after the revelations last summer, but that is not enough, at least not for me. The bishops need to show up, to build rapport and to repeatedly engage in difficult conversations.
Trust is not built on policy and paperwork.
What is required of the bishops at this point in time is one-on-one connection and ongoing discussion with parents in the pews. The shepherds must be with their sheep, listening and tending to the concerns of their people, especially if the they are asking families to encourage vocations. This perhaps will require a shift in how they understand their role as the head of the diocese, but it is what is needed if the hierarchy wants to gain a modicum of trust with parents like me.
The bishops need to show up, to build rapport and to repeatedly engage in difficult conversations. Trust is not built on policy and paperwork.
I believe the laity, too, are called to a new way of behaving and thinking. In families where generations of abuse have existed, at least one family member must change their behavior in order to stop the cycle of abuse.
This requires them to do something different—move out, cut ties or report abuse to the authorities. A survivor cannot simply do what the family has always done.
A powerful piece by a devout Catholic and parent.
Her son would not be safe in a Catholic seminary at the present time.
If he handsome he will be eye candy.
Other seminarians and priests will try all they can to get into his trousers.
If he reciprocates they will turn him into a gay sex addict without morals or boundaries.
If he is straight and does nor reciprocate, they will harass him to the point of nervous breakdown and he will leave a very broken young man.
Would any caring and responsible parent leabe a paedophile to babysit their children?
I think not.
Then let no responsible parent allow their son into Maynooth, The Irish College, Allen Hall, Wonersh etc.