It has been one year since reading the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. Themes of abuse of which I was well aware were not what most surprised me. It was the names that I recognized, people with whom I conversed, admired, trusted, regarded highly and defended. That is what kept me reading those long, terrible pages, that left me wondering what I could do, if I could change it.
Not much of the structure of the Catholic Church has changed in the past year. The Diocese of Pittsburgh has arguably gotten worse. Sure, we have new programs that “protect God’s children,” we have checks and procedures that keep volunteers accountable. But, true contrition? Lasting changes? Real admittance and accountability? A genuine desire to fight for heaven? That has occurred as few and as far between as homilies that hit home, of conversations from the higher ups that attend to our wounds, of priests, now referred to as administrators rather than fathers, seeming happy in their new assignments.
We have seen priests whom we love suffer, families leave, young people give up, dismiss, and turn away from a Church that has failed them, and I, card carrying and devout, do not blame them.
And yet, I remain.
Why? Because for whatever reason, that thing that 75% of Catholics just reported not believing in, that thing that so many of us think of as nothing more than a symbol, just an ordinary piece of bread? A regular glass of wine? That thing, to me, is real. And no matter how hard I try, I cannot walk away.
At face value, the Eucharist is absolutely ridiculous, preposterous, bizarre. God becoming bread? Offering it to each of us? Becoming part of our being?
And yet, I believe.
Why? Because for whatever reason, He made it real for me. All I do is show up. And Time and time again, it happens. I plead “help me!” And He does. I say “prove it!” And He does. I say “your Church is run by crazy criminals!” And He says, “I know.”
And so, I stay. I keep my focus on Him. Because there is still good stuff here, even in the bad stuff. There is still good stuff.