Among friends, I ask everyone to share their experiences with the Church. And as I start to write this column, my cell phone, in random mode, throws me Nick Cave saying he doesn’t believe in an interventionist god. At this point, not even God is called into the conversation. It is mundane and sad what we have to share.
My mother had stopped going to church a long time ago. She revolted against the hypocrisy of what she saw. She stopped wanting to be part of the rituals that nourished the institution. So we all stopped going to mass, my father was the last one to do it. Today, I don’t even hear him talk about it, knowing that the two, perhaps because of the education they had, were people of Faith. I am also a person of Faith, but in humanity.
When, a few days ago, I read in detail some of the reports compiled by the commission that took care of this case, I felt like throwing up. There is no exaggeration in what I am saying. The revulsion was physical, beyond what was engraved in my memory and which I will hardly ever be able to erase. Bad things stay. Woe to some god who frees us from the memory that separates the righteous from others.
In the village, everyone was asked to pay their congrua, a contribution for the parish priest to live without problems. For the most foolish, a moral and religious duty of the believers, who thus supplied the man in the black habit. The priest, the doctor, the teacher? Perhaps this trilogy no longer makes sense to us. I have too much respect for some teachers and for so many doctors.
I remember my mother being annoyed to pay this congruent and that was always a topic of conversation. It wasn’t fair to pay, much less, on the other side, demanding to know how much my father earned, in order to agree with our contribution. So, very early on, I went from the catechism girl to the one who questioned everything she saw. He asked me every day why that man couldn’t get married, if he lived with the woman who claimed to be his employee. Do you see the various errors contained here? Calling the woman he shared a house with a maid. And she allows it. I remember her well: little pride, a look that rarely rose. Perhaps unhappy with her incomplete condition.
Very young I realized the inconsistencies of a certain church. Everything I studied about the figure of Jesus was due to my tireless curiosity, a curiosity that is feared by the Church. The more you want to know, the more you’ll discover and the more you’ll question that hollow power of the institution.
When I now read or listen to reactions within the Church to what happened over the decades, I realize how I have always seen what seemed off limits to others. But it is fear that holds us back. Fear and, no doubt, ignorance. How could we, kids, believe that those men without any life had the power to decide what is right and what is wrong?
When one of those gentlemen with a starched collar came to say that “there are also abusive fathers and mothers”, throwing at all of us the possibility of failure (and what an unspeakable failure), I question everything: the sanity of believers, of the judiciary, of the State that, being secular, he always bowed before the Church.
The removal of men (there are no women here, remember that the Church forbids them entry?) who abused without pity, without rationality, without a shred of humanity of defenseless people and without information, is not enough. All these victims deserve to have their wounds honored. They will never get rid of the trauma. That trauma has a face, a voice and a name, abject hands, a body that was never in spirit with its god.
If these men, old or new, are not condemned for what they have done, we will be failing as humans more than ever before. The time has come for us to show them that in our fallibility we are much more perfect than they are.
It is not God who protects me, but my actions in conscience.