I’ve put off posting about this, mainly because the right words escape me. To my fellow Catholics, I just signed this statement calling for the collective resignation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. I have chosen to remain Catholic in spite of the many crises of faith that I have experienced long before the Pennsylvania grand jury report was released. For many people, Catholic Church has not been a place that they can call “home,” including but not limited to women, divorced and remarried persons, LGBTQ persons, and those who, faithful to their conscience, say or act in a way that does not align fully with the Magisterium.
For those, like myself, who identify as Catholic, I believe we hold a responsibility to not only be aware of the systemic evil and injustice that has taken place in the institutional church but also to be willing to listen to all those who have been affected by it. For those of you who want someone to talk to about recent (or not so recent, since we have known that sexual abuse has been happening in the church for a LONG TIME) events, I am here- and I hope to offer the same to my students as we start a new semester next week- I am hear to listen without nudging you to leave the Church or stay in the Church, etc. I firmly believe we need to create space for people to express their feelings and reactions, even if those may be hard for us to hear.
However, one thing I WILL ALWAYS MAINTAIN is that GOD IS NOT THE PROBLEM. The way we talk about God is the problem, even right down to the very names we use for God. Human beings have a done a good job of convincing various people that God does not approve of them, that their suffering is somehow deserved or pre-ordained by God, but just because human beings abuse their power and utter such sentiments, that does not make them true. The God that I believe in is not an almighty ruler looking to punish us for every transgression or a distant God removed from the suffering and pain of our every day lives, but A CRUCIFIED GOD, a God who suffered and was crucified again every time a child of Hers was abused. We need to do a much better job of proclaiming this Crucified God. The institutional Church has abandoned God’s people, but God has not abandoned His people.*
The switching off between His and Hers as pronouns for God is intentional. God is beyond gender and no human category can exhaust the incredible Mystery that is God. All people – men, women, and transgendered persons, are capable of imaging God and therefore, God should be expressed and named using many different kinds of words and images.