This time may well go down as the saddest generation of Catholic history. Circumstances have grown so bad that there is no choice left but for the laity to revolt, and so revolt is happening. It’s not a revolutionary kind of revolt. Revolutions call for change and innovation that break with history and tradition. No. This is a counter-revolutionary type of revolt, calling for a return to traditional Catholic teaching, liturgy, morality, transparency and accountability from leadership. It is a call to Church leaders to return to doing what is right, as the Catechism teaches, and just to be Catholic again. The lay faithful are tired of the innovation, novelty, hypocrisy and abuse. We just want our Church back, and the inaction of our leaders has led us to take matters into our own hands.
ChurchMilitant.Com is spearheading the #CatholicMeToo movement, but they are not alone. Other Catholic media outlets have already collaborated and agreed. We’ll be hearing from them soon. The secular mainstream media has also been alerted, as we can expect to hear from them as well. This is huge, and it’s going to get much, much bigger. All of this is stemming from recent revelations concerning Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, America’s highest ranking and most influential prelate, that he was intimately (and I do mean intimate) involved in the homosexual harassment of adult men, as well as teenage boys. The Cardinal McCarrick revelation is the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back,” only it wasn’t a straw, it was a tree trunk! The proverbial camel’s back is not only broken, but the camel itself is crushed, lying under a pile of straw, leaves, branches and timber. As the saying goes: “This is the last straw!” and what a massive straw it was! There is no turning back now. There is no way to undo what has been done.
The #CatholicMeToo movement calls for two types of actions, easily accomplished by any Catholic layman…
- The first is for those who have been sexually abused or harassed by Catholic clergy, either as children or adults. We’re looking for victims here, even adult victims who have been the subject of sexual harassment and/or intimidation. Anyone fitting this description, and desiring to tell their story, should email MeToo@ChurchMilitant.com.
- The second is for all Catholics, every one of us, to close up our wallets and check books and STOP giving money to our bishops, especially those suspected of being part of this. We must immediately cease any financial support of the bishops’ activities until they have taken decisive action to resolve this situation. This means no more support for any diocesan appeal for money, no money for diocesan-wide campaigns or development funds, no more national collections, and no more social justice efforts run by the bishops. Yes, this includes punishing the good with the bad, because that is what is necessary to get the message across. The bad will not act to oust themselves, so we have to pressure the good bishops too, so they can turn heat on the bad. It’s okay to give money to your local parish, or another parish of your choice, indeed you should (Church law requires it), but #CatholicMeToo is saying don’t give anything to the bishops directly anymore — not until this matter is decisively addressed. Words won’t be good enough. #CatholicMeToo demands action: swift, effective and historic. It wants these problem bishops gone! All of them!
Sadly, what is true for the world is now true for the Church. Money talks. Money is the only thing they really understand now. If we stop the money flow, then and only then will things start to happen.
I came into the Church with my wife in the spring of 2000. We were among the first wave of converts for the 21st century and the new millennium. My wife and I made sacrifices to become Catholic, big sacrifices. We lost friends, many friends. We were harassed and heckled by our coworkers. Our families didn’t understand. Our parents warned us that we would be putting our souls in danger of hell. I gave up my chance at full-time ministry in an Evangelical church, a possibility easily within my grasp, but I gave it up gladly for the sake of the truth. My family stopped talking to me about religion, and the questions from them I once relished ceased to exist. My wife was excoriated by her baptist co-workers, day after day, until she just gave up and stopped talking to them. She and I learned the meaning of what it is to become a Catholic convert in the Bible Belt — isolation! We had to start over from scratch. We had to get new friends, change jobs (in my case change shifts) and find different subjects to discuss with our families. Major holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, were a little awkward for a while. Today, things are better, but it’s still not the same. Our families are more accepting, more tolerant, and willing to participate in major events like baptisms, first communions, confirmations, etc. So that’s good. Those old friends, however, are gone and aren’t ever coming back. I’ve found my ministry calling on the Internet, and I’m thankfully able to touch more people now than I ever could in that little Evangelical church I nearly inherited. But this is now, eighteen years after our conversion. The first five years were the hardest, and it was during that time the Boston Globe broke the sex abuse scandal that rocked the U.S. Catholic Church, and our new Catholic faith.
I don’t think these bishops have any idea what it’s like to be a fresh convert in the Bible Belt, and then have the entire nation suddenly talking about sexual predation on teenage boys by Roman Catholic priests. My wife and I were slowly trying to put our social lives back together when suddenly it was “revealed” that we had converted to a Church that molests teenage boys and covers it up. I remember being asked, very sincerely by my Protestant coworkers, why my Church thinks it’s okay to abuse children. I, myself, was called a child molester just for supporting the Catholic Church. “You give your money to that Church, you’re part of it!” That’s what I was told. Honestly, my wife and I did have second thoughts during all this. We both contemplated going back to Anglicanism, and I seriously considered Eastern Orthodoxy, but we came to the conclusion that neither of these things would be the right move. We had already gone as far as we could by becoming Catholic, and there was nowhere left to go. We had to stand our ground and fight. There was nothing left to do. So we buckled in for the long ride, and for years I bit my tongue as one diocese fell after another. I honestly don’t know how we did it, except to say it was the comfort of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. He gave us the strength to carry on, during years of verbal abuse, scowls and whispers. I’ll never forget the nasty looks we got when we would bring our little children into a store or restaurant while they were wearing their Catholic school uniforms. Occasionally, somebody would come up to us and ask why we are “endangering our children by sending them to a place like that.” At the time, I blamed the media, and indeed there is a little blame to go around there. The coverage was disproportionately focused on Catholicism. Nevertheless, we can’t blame them entirely. I now know the majority of the blame lies squarely at the feet of the U.S. Catholic bishops. The buck stops with them.
With this latest McCarrick scandal, and all the bishops and priests associated with him around the country, including his cosy relationship with Pope Francis, I am personally DONE. It has been fifteen years since the Boston Globe originally broke the story about Cardinal Law and the Archdiocese of Boston. Billions of dollars have been paid out in settlements to victims, followed by the implementation of the most stringent anti-abuse training and prevention programs in the history of the world, and yet we now know we are no closer to solving the problem. The problem is much bigger than any of us expected. It’s more than homosexual predation on teenage boys. It’s also homosexual predation on young adult men too, in the form of sexual harassment and blackmail. It’s widespread and it’s at the highest levels of the Church. So like I said, I am DONE!
Here’s the deal. I won’t leave the Catholic Church. I believe it’s the Church founded by Jesus Christ, so I can’t leave. However, I am not going to shut-up either. I’m going to keep talking about this problem, and keep telling people to act, and turn up the heat in every way I know how. Because you see, in defending victims of sexual abuse, standing in solidarity with them, and holding all bishops accountable (even the good ones), I am just following my conscience and I can do nothing else. I’ve bit my tongue for over a decade on this. I won’t do it anymore.
It is for this reason that I fully and wholeheartedly give my endorsement to the #CatholicMeToo movement (with a slight revision which you can read here) in solidarity with the victims of abuse across America.