Current Agony and Hope
Fr. Peter J. Daly
March 20, 2002
Priests I talk to are depressed. Very depressed.
Some have stopped wearing their clerical collar in public. Others are talking about retirement with a new kind of urgency.
It is not just priests who are depressed. The scandals of the past few months have had a terrible demoralizing effect on the whole church. Lay people are talking about it among themselves. It is topic number one at parish gatherings.
Catholics everywhere are wounded. We are wounded by the sins and crimes of priests and bishops and by the cover-up and lack of transparency.
The insensitivity of some people in power in the church toward the victims in some dioceses is the real puzzler. These were children. The church’s children. Innocent young people whose trust was violated and whose lives have been deeply scarred.
Some of these victims have never recovered. Some committed suicide. Others turned to drink and drugs. Some found that they could not trust any relationship again. They became afraid of sex. Even afraid of affection and love.
But there is reason to hope.
Things may be getting better.
Dioceses and bishops and priests have gotten the message. No more scandals and above all, no more cover-ups.
There has been a lot of helpful discussion. Perhaps for the first time the church as a whole, bishops, priests and laity, are talking as equals. Bishops and priests realize that they are accountable to their people. That they have to earn their trust.