Sunday, February 05, 2006

Feeling guilty?

Hate to be a one-note wonder here, but this sex abuse thing just keeps churning my stomach. Turns out the Rev. (sic) Daniel McCormack used to begin every Mass with "We are a sinful people," a phrase that's, uh, not in the book (and I'm a liturgist, so you can trust me on this one). I've always been suspicious of priests who constantly harp on sin. More often than not, they're telling us something about themselves, in addition to projecting their own guilt onto us.

Then there's this from some poor parent at St. Agatha's, as reported by the Chicago Tribune: "I am really sorry for my rush to judgment," said Jula Bledsoe, 56, a longtime parishioner at St. Agatha Catholic Church, where McCormack served. "I'm Catholic. I'm rushing to judgment; I'm doing everything that's not right. That's not a good thing, especially being an African-American. That's appalling, because we're always judged so quickly." Who said Catholic guilt was dead? Honey, you're not doing anything wrong; Jesus is mad, too, and hurt.

On top of it all, St. Agatha is celebrating anointing of the sick today for all the parishioners. Now, please tell me, what message does that send? That the people are sick and in need of healing? That's an abuse of the sacrament if there ever was one. What we need is the ancient rite of penance, where public sinners--in this case, those whose incompetence left predators in the pulpit--cover themselves in ashes, publicly repent of their sin, and sit in the assembly for all of Lent, begging forgiveness. How about it, Bishop Joseph Imesch of Joliet? How about it, Cardinal George? Are you ready to throw yourself on the mercy of the people of God? Francis George is constantly talking about how sinful we are, how in need of conversion we are; Hierarch, heal thyself! And stop dumping your guilt on the rest of us.

Mike Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times gathers some readers' response to this mess. Among the best, about my hero Anne Burke: " ... what she [Judge Anne Burke] says always expresses what we, the ordinary day-to-day Mass attending Catholics feel. I wish I could relate to her just how grateful we are to have someone in our Church speak so intelligently and logically. ... To continue to put the reputations and careers of priest[s] above the welfare of children is morally wrong."


At 2:04 PM, Anonymous ANR said...

Oh, you are so right! An abuse of the sacrament. Sackcloth and ashes is what's needed, and not for parishioners. I hope people downtown are reading you.

(By the way, that's Mike Sneed, not Sam, and she's a she.)


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