Who’s protecting who?
Rod Dreher wrote this powerful letter to a young man who was entering a religious order, but after having discovered “alarming instances of deep corruption” is torn between loyalty to his order and exposing the truth.
Dreher’s points really resonated with me. What do you do, as a follower of the crucified Lord, when there are people in your church acting out of less than holy intentions? Do you wait it out, trying to change things by working behind the scenes somehow? Or do you confront the problem head on and risk tearing the community apart? Really, really difficult. I voiced some of my thoughts here a couple of weeks ago.
Any community that would seek to compel your silence about great evil as the price of belonging is not a community you should want to be part of. You start by compromising in small things, you end by compromising in large things. I cannot tell you the number of times I spoke to various priests about a certain very senior prelate who is a sexual predator. They all knew what was going on with this guy, and told me in detail. But not one of them would come forward and put his name to accusations. They were all afraid for their positions. This prelate is, or was, powerful, and he could make life very difficult for them as priests. In fact, that was the source of his power over seminarians and priests who worked for him. To this day, not a single priest, former seminarian, or ex-clergy who knows the score on this guy has come forward. When I was looking into this, I spoke to a prominent layman who had detailed knowledge of this predator’s activities — but he told me he wouldn’t talk about it, for the sake of protecting the Church.
Who is protecting the Church from whom?
There is a such thing as discernment and discretion. Not everything that can be made known should be made known. But in my observation, far, far more often than not, discernment and discretion is invoked not to protect the Church, but to protect power-holding wrongdoers within the Church. And the most sincere and faithful people within the church — obedient clergy, religious, and laypeople — are those whose consciences are targeted by these devils.