Lent (Day 39) — Jimmy Breslin, “The Church that Forgot Christ”

In one of the final chapters, Breslin speaks of talking with a Katherine Grimes, MD, a psychiatrist regarding the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal.  The conversation turns to the matter of the seminaries — Breslin notes that the local seminary is likely to only graduate two seminarians in that year (around 2004, when the book was published), and Grimes opines that the main reason for the drop in seminary enrollment is that the sex scandal has made it clear that predators will not get away with their predatory behavior so easily.  “They’re busted,” she says, and know it.  

Though that is part of the problem, I think that the matter is bigger than that.  I had a good friend who would have made an excellent priest, but he also wanted to be married.  He is currently married and has a family and seems to have done all right, and his family has all turned out quite well.  If the church had allowed (or allowed now) married priests, there would be quite a few more priests.  And a priesthood of good men (and women) would offset predators in their midst.  But many of the good people chose marriage over the priesthood.  So a lot of good people were frozen out.  And as the Catholic Church is the chief authority in the world of Catholics, when that was undermined, many people turned away from the Church, and many who would have entered seminary, chose not to do so, as they could no longer be sure of their faith.  It’s a major problem.  And I’m not sure it is one that is easily overcome.  

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