Question: I have a friend who says she is leaving the Catholic Church because of…
Jesus is ‘right here in this mess’
It’s hard to believe it has come to this. Father Basil Hutsko of St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Merrillville, Indiana, was attacked and knocked unconscious in the sacristy after celebrating Divine Liturgy at the end of August. According to a letter from another priest, before losing consciousness, Father Basil heard his attacker say, “This is for all the kids,” presumably a reference to the recently released Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing horrific acts of clergy sexual abuse against minors in six dioceses in the state.
The letter, written by Father Thomas J. Loya, was careful to stress that Father Basil was “a random target. He is NOT guilty of any sex abuse.”
As horrible and unjust as this act was, it also illustrates another important and dangerous point: People are angry, and they don’t know what to do with that anger. Even many faithful Catholics — especially on the heels of the scandal surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick — are wondering angrily: Where do we go from here?
I had the opportunity to ask that question recently to Father Thomas Berg, author of “Hurting in the Church: A Way Forward For Wounded Catholics,” for a podcast. Following is his answer, slightly edited for clarity and space, and I hope it is helpful.
“(We need) to remember that the Church is more than derelict priests who have been predators and exploited innocent people. The Church is so much more than inept, cowardly bishops who failed to act. The Church is so much more than the institutional elements that can fail. The Church is, yes, it’s an institutional reality, but first and foremost it’s a spiritual reality. It’s both of those things together.
“We need to go back to the truths of the Faith … . We need to go back and relish the experience of the Holy Spirit’s powerful actions in the sacraments in our lives. I’ve been telling so many people: you want to do something about this mess? Go to Eucharistic adoration. Go spend time just soaking up the presence of Jesus and offering that up. Go to Jesus. He’s ultimately the answer here. We need to go back to that radical personal experience of our Lord who, not in spite of our wounds and our misery, but precisely because of our wounds and our misery, as members of his mystical body, … comes to us.
“Jesus always wants to get into the messiness of our lives, and he’s right here, he’s right here in this mess, and he is going to purify his bride the Church. He is going to bring good from evil.
“Catholics need to learn at times to step away, especially if we’re really following this stuff. We need to get off the Twitter feed, stop reading story after story, and we need to go back, and we need to pray. We need to go to adoration, we need to spend time. We need to look for silence and quiet and bring that to this experience. I think that’s really at the heart of our way forward here.”
Gretchen R. Crowe is editor-in-chief of Our Sunday Visitor. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.