A friend of mine has just relayed to me in depth the story of how he and his family were abused by the Church. It's not a tale of sexual abuse, but it is a horror story nonetheless - an unimaginable assault by power hungry clergy and laity, complete with cover up by bishops and filled with a kind of spiritual darkness that makes you feel sick. It has taken this family several years to begin to heal. He has asked me not to spread his story around - at least not in the written form in which he has expressed it, but I can say this much - it rings quite true. It is both rather funny and also the kind of thing that would make the pit of your stomach drop and your faith dry up.
And the villains in the piece are not the liberals. The villains are the meticulous OCD sado-masochistic "conservatives", the Latin Mass crowd, who, God bless them, will probably end up in a lower pit of hell than the Stanford Nutting-type libs, who at least have the humanity left to enjoy their sins.
And it's all about sin.
I knew a young woman who was psychologically knocked about by a similar "Super-Catholic", who practically left her at the altar without a pang of compunction. I know a certain blogger who dared to question the sanctity of a Catholic TV host and who soon learned that the Faith is far less important to most "Devout Catholics" than their politics and their own self-interest.
And I myself have seen what happens when you invest your love and your work and your care and concern into Church related organizations and people who end up turning on you. It's bad "stewardship of love" on the victim's part, certainly - but it's worse than that glib phrase indicates. It's a heart-breaking-soul-crushing experience that can sink you.
And sexual abuse is that much worse.
But there's a salvation here. It's something that dawned on me only yesterday when reading Macbeth. And that is this ...
It's just sin.
It's just our sin and theirs.
This is why we have a Church to begin with and this is why we have so much need of Jesus Christ.
We sin by putting our faith in princes or in the sons of men. We sin by making the True God an idol or a shield or a pillow to suit our own fancy. We sin when we turn against each other, when we deny the essence of love. We sin all the time.
It hurts, but it's just sin.