Friday, October 16, 2009

Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning by Kerry Kennedy (Continued)

Although many vignettes in Kerry Kennedy's book were inspiring, others had a vastly different impact. I found Bill Maher’s profile to be extremely sad. Politically, I agree with Maher on some points. But his hostility towards God and Christians is heartbreaking to me.

I was even more profoundly saddened by the profiles on Gabriel Byrne, Frank McCourt and Dan McNevin, who each described their horrifying childhood experiences of sexual abuse by priests. Understandably, the impact of such unimaginable trauma at such a young age is devastating to the victims’ faith in God, as well as their trust in the institution and the people who comprise the church. I actually read this book just before the death of Frank McCourt, and have been haunted by his words in Being Catholic Now:

Now I believe that when you die there’s nothing--oblivion and memories.

If we could prove conclusively that your life ends with your last breath, it would change the whole course of history. Nobody would give a shit if there’s no afterlife.

...I saw the antics of the Church and began to think more and more about the contradictions. I began to find a great lack of love and too much fear, in the Irish Catholic Church especially. It was inconsistent, because love is the central theme of Catholicism. I didn’t find it, and I had to go another more human direction.

I feel more and more aware of the mystery, and I am reconciled to the oblivion that is coming. I see no proof of anything else, if it is a matter of faith. I admire people who have faith in God. It must be a great comfort to them, but I had to get out from under the fear and the guilt.

I pray that the bitter hostility of people like Bill Maher and the utter despair of people like Frank McCourt instill in all of us who make up the Christian church that our failures and any hypocrisy have profound consequences. When we who comprise the Body of Christ fail so dramatically to reflect the selfless love and compassion of our Lord, not only do we fail to be the light of the world as we’re called to be, but we also condemn others to hopelessness and misery. This is particularly the case with respect to children, who are among the most vulnerable and most impressionable in our society.

Mark 10:14 (Amplified Bible)

“Allow the children to come to Me--do not forbid or prevent or hinder them--for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”

Luke 6:42 (Amplified Bible)

"Or how can you say to your brother, Brother, allow me to take out the speck that is in your eye, when you yourself do not see the beam that is in your own eye? You actor (pretender, hypocrite)! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye."

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