Most disturbing are the actual cases of abuse that have been revealed and the priests and Bishops who looked the other way (who are in the minority, but who's sins are so horrible that they stand out amidst all the good that the Church does every single day). Then there has been the incredibly disturbing distortion of the mainstream media, who has twisted the facts so thoroughly that even faithful Catholics are confused.
It is incredibly evil to harm a child. It is also incredibly evil to attempt to destroy the life of an innocent person for selfish motives (which in this case appears to be distracting the American public from the fact that abortion is now going to be funded by a bill that the majority of us did not want).
Lately the poor catechesis of the past decades also seems to be adding to the crisis that some Catholics are experiencing.
I have to say that sometimes when I read about the "problems" that some "Cradle Catholics" are having with their faith, I'm thankful that I converted later on when I was old enough to go out and research the Church's stances rather than blindly accepting the words from someone who may or may not have known what they were talking about. I've heard so many statements from friends about what's wrong with Church teachings that weren't even vaguely true, but which they absolutely believe because some person, twenty some years ago, taught them that particular bit of garbage in CCD.
However the excuses can only go on for so long. All of us must take responsibility for our own faith and must move beyond an childhood understanding of that faith. Incorrect catechesis is very unfortunate, but after a while each of us must realize that excuses blaming a childhood teacher begins to fall a little flat after decades of doing nothing more to learn the truth and grow in our relationship with God.
And now we finally get down to the news article that I read that inspired this post. I was flipping through my parents' copy of The Week and read a sentence that went something like this: A woman in Philadelphia is no longer going to confession because she wonders if her priest is more of a sinner than she is...
I always cringe when I hear people say something like this. It comes in different forms. Sometimes it's an excuse for missing Mass for decades. Less frequently it's an excuse for not receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (possibly this is heard less frequently because this has become such a norm that people don't even feel the need to make an excuse).
I only have one answer for this and it's in the form of a question: How could anyone let another person keep them away from their Lord and Savior?
There is no way I would let someone else's sins keep me from receiving Christ in the Eucharist.
And there is no way I would use the excuse of someone else's sins to keep me from Reconciliation. The priest does not forgive your sins. He has been given the power to bind and loose by Christ. Christ alone paid our debt and he alone forgives sins. However he gave that power to bind and loose to his disciples and that power has been passed down from generation to generation and is necessary for the forgiveness of mortal sins.
The idea of staying away from the Sacraments of Christ because of someone else's sins only hurts the person who is separating themselves from these great gifts. And that is a great tragedy...
God has given us, even priests, free will. We are free to draw near to him or to flee from his Grace. Don't allow another's sins to push you away from God and the Church that he founded.