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Questions for a Church in Crisis

Author: 
Adriana Calzada, CCVI

Being in mass I could not help starting to reflect again. The church that I attended this Sunday is usually full of children. Whenever I go there I am usually distracted looking at how they behave, some of them sing, some fight, some laugh, they smile. I rejoice at this sign of hope. It was not like that today. Today, I felt sad for them. I also felt curious about their parents and some admiration. How is it possible that an institution that does not protect its children is full of them?

I was deeply saddened in addition to all the anger and confusion I was carrying with me. As I woke up I had been reading the latest articles about the recent sexual abuse crisis. A lot of questions came to mind. One of them, and it stayed with me over the day, was if I were not a sister, would I still attend church? I thought of so many people I grew up with in the same atmosphere and they stopped going to church.

A lot of conversations with my older sisters where they talk about their nieces and nephews not going to church anymore come to mind, some feel sad about this and others feel at peace and they understand the reasons. I am thinking about setting an altar for the Day of the Dead at my school, and the question comes to mind, would it be too much dedicating it to the dead innocence of abused children? Would I be in trouble in my school for it? Weeks ago, I felt the impulse of starting a cause against the sainthood of John Paul II, more questions: does this matter? Would I be in trouble in my Congregation? Do I actually dare doing something like this?

Another big question is why are there so many people writing an apology of the Church? Is this really a time to defend anything? There is also a lot of people writing their reasons for staying in the church, I wonder about this too, but I do not feel the need to solve this right now, less to share it as a defense to the institution. Questions about double standard keep coming to mind. What about the church teachings related to the LGBTQ community? I wonder about my condition as a woman in this patriarchal institution where, at least now and for many years, I won’t be able to have a legitimate leadership role. These past weeks I have been wondering all these and more. I also wonder when will this issue come out to light in Latin America and whether it will be a lot worse. I wonder about my country, Mexico, and when will we take serious actions against those who are identified to have covered pedophiles. My big question is whether I am actually willing and courageous enough to commit myself in this fight. I have no answer to any of these questions. Francisco’s calling to fast and prayer is not enough for me. I identify with LCWR at feeling sickened and ashamed.

I know the questions will continue to come up and I know I am not the only one asking them. I know it is natural, good and healthy to question. I am very grateful for the areas of the church where I find spaces to share, question, try to find responses in community. I feel grateful for all those who are not part of the institution and help me to question in a spirit of curiosity and with an honest interest. I am especially grateful with all those who call themselves Catholics or have an image of God very similar to mine but no longer participate in the institution for several reasons. I am aware of the big need of journeying with this group not to evangelize it but because they enrich my reflection. As hard as it might be, I also need to question with all those who come from a radically different perspective to mine. I also need to invite those who are always attacking the church and find an occasion to rejoice every time some scandal like this comes out. Most difficult, perhaps, is to question with those whose image of God is so different from mine. It was very hard for me to finally sit and write about this because it is clear enough that I do not bring any answers. I did not want to write something meaningless, or something that would continue to cause division. At the same time, I could not write without addressing this issue.

Listening to today’s Ephphatha I am invited to continue questioning but in a committed way and with the responsibility of being aware to the responses that are life giving, the ones who actually help and build. Responsibility of looking for the truth in the information received. I feel invited to ask Jesus to put his fingers in my ears and to touch my tongue with his saliva. I need my ears to be opened and I need to be able to start talking about this more plainly. I will continue questioning but the boys and girls, the families that have been destroyed by the sexual abuse in the Catholic Church demand from me that I speak clearly in favor of justice now. This demand and the fact that Jesus is the one who can open my mind and heart are the only answers I have for now.