Growing up in an Italian Catholic family, I went to Catechism class twice a week, confession twice a month, and Mass every Sunday. My father, who died when I was 12, never went, but my mother loved the Catholic Church and dragged us along. I, at times, would ask my mother, “Why doesn’t daddy come to church with us?” She would answer, “He was an altar boy when he was young,” as if to mean he already put in his time! Or maybe there was another reason which we never knew.
I was baptized, received 1st Holy Communion, Confirmed and Married in the Catholic Church. When I was a child Catholic priests came to our house to bless us after our family was involved in an automobile accident. The only bad thing I remember about our church was one day after mass, Father Fleming, our pastor of Saint Williams Catholic Church in Euclid, Ohio, was in the parking lot trying to direct traffic to untangle a traffic jam, and he apparently lost his temper and shouted, “God damn it!” My mother heard him and was in complete shock and said, “Oh my, did you hear what the father said? He said G.D.” “G.D? What’s that mom?” She could never say ‘God damn it,’ after all she just received holy communion and was in the state of grace. But, then wasn’t Father Fleming also in the state of grace who served her communion?
There were times, sitting in the dark confessional booth, telling a strange voice on the other side of the vale or shade, (the priest), how I sinned. Eating meat on a Friday! Eating candy during Lent, when I had given it up for Lent. And, of course, with ever young american boys going through puberty, impure thoughts, masturbation, always thinking about sex, etc. Girls. And if I didn’t want to confess one of those dark, immoral, depraved sins, then I knew for sure I was going to hell when I received holy communion on Sunday! And I would be worried sick, and felt so guilty!
I remember Sister Cecilia – the Catholic Nunn teaching my catechism class saying, “Remember children, playing with your skin is a MORTAL SIN!!” Oh my God, I’m going straight to hell, I thought!
So today, on August the 15th, a day my parents and grandparents observed and to this day my siblings and cousins celebrate the “Feast of the Assumption” in Little Italy in Cleveland, Ohio. As I write this thousands of people are congregating on Mayfield Road, near Murray Hill Road, right outside Holy Rosary Catholic Church, observing this scared holiday as other Catholics are around the world, and what do you know? It’s another day of news of sexual abuse by catholic priests, bishops, and well the entire Catholic Church.
From the Wall Street Journal:
“Catholic officials in Pennsylvania systematically covered up the molestation of more than 1,000 children by more than 300 priests over the past 70 years, according to a report released Tuesday on one of the most exhaustive investigations into the church’s sex-abuse scandal.”
Most people reading this probably reacted with a “so what else is new?” attitude, because it has happened so often.
Priests sodomizing young boys, bishops and even cardinals covering it up and sending the priests on their way to sexually abuse more children. How could this happen so much, for so long, with nothing ever being done to stop it? Why did the Pope, the Cardinals the bishops not stop it? The lives of these innocent, faithful Catholics, scarred.
These things are constantly churning over in my mind, I just can’t square them away. While I tried desperately to live by the tenants of the Catholic Church, thousands of priests, bishops, and cardinals were sodomizing little boys and girls, getting caught and doing it over and over again. And then celebrating Mass, hearing confession, marrying young couples, presiding over funeral masses, in their homilies, instructing us how to live?
It’s been a while since I joined the 2nd largest religion in America, “Former Catholics,” for this reason and just recently I, with my family, attended a catholic funeral service, and I felt the need to return to the church. So now, this again.
What do I do? I don’t know. Who do I trust? I don’t know.
What do I believe? I believe Jesus Christ was the son of God, who came down from heaven and died on the cross for our sins, and three days later he arose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
That’s all I believe right now. That’s all I got right now. But, you know, I think that’s enough.