While I’ve been completing “Riding Out the Wreckage,” the third book in The Father Michael Trilogy, my Church has been falling apart!
More revelations keep coming to light about long standing sexual abuse by, and homosexual affairs among, the clergy. Faithful Catholics are dismayed and don’t know what to believe regarding their Church leaders.
Our religion appears to be in tatters and this makes it a difficult time to be writing Catholic fiction. But I believe this is also an important time to be a Catholic writer.
The Church Isn’t Always Easy to Defend
When I returned to the Church, after being absent for twenty years, I was immediately greeted by the downfall of my parish priest and his successor.
The first pastor was accused of sexual misconduct with the seminarians he was in charge of 30 years prior. We parishioners wanted to believe his denials, but were finally forced to accept the truth, as more and more credible witnesses came forward.
God had called me back to the faith for this? My Christian Mystery novel, Brittle Diamonds was a response to the crisis.
We embraced the new pastor, a Monsignor no less, with eagerness to believe in a good shepherd again. But after two years he announced he was an alcoholic and left us to go into rehab.
Reeling, we looked to a third leader to save us.
He was late coming to the priesthood, having being a lawyer in his previous life. He is level-headed and still at that church.
That is not at all what the Gospel says!
Where did he get that interpretation from? Did he also not believe that Jesus brought Lazarus back to life? Did he even believe that Christ actually died and rose again?
This man was not teaching the Truth. How many more priests like him were out there?
What had happened to Catholicism while I was gone?
There really Are Good & Faithful Priests
Despite misgivings, I clung to what I believed to be right and did my best to be a good Catholic while in that parish.
Then came my move to Maryland, and to a parish with a wonderful priest who is devoted to fundamental Catholic teaching, including the truth that Christ did perform miracles.
I am grateful for him and the two subsequent pastors who’ve been shining examples of what is means to be good priests.
They are not afraid to state the truths of both the Old and New Testaments, however unpopular they are and whatever the cost to themselves. One of them even said that he fully expects either his or the next generation of priests to end up in prison because of the current wave of atheism and anti-Catholicism.
And the turbulence within the Church is not helping to stem the increasing onslaught.
Satan really goes after the clergy: they have so much temptation to resist and they badly need our prayers!
Now Is the Time to Trust in the Lord
I think it’s helpful to remember that Judas was in the Church right from the beginning; that Peter denied Christ three times, and all the Apostles ran away from Christ when he needed them the most, except for John. We’ve been repeatedly warned that evil will attack from within and shouldn’t be surprised it’s happening.
Nevertheless, it’s deeply painful and confusing to have our trust shattered again. The Catholic Church appears irretrievably damaged. But consider these words from Bishop Robert Barron in Why Remain Catholic with so Much Scandal?:
“we are not Catholics because of the moral excellence of our leaders. I mean, God help us if we were. We want our leaders—indeed, we expect our leaders—to be morally excellent. But we are not Catholics because of that moral excellence. We’re Catholics because of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead. We’re Catholics because of the Trinitarian love of God. We're Catholics because of the Mystical Body of Christ. We’re Catholics because of the sacraments. We’re Catholics especially because of the Eucharist. We're Catholics because of the Blessed Mother. We’re Catholics because of the saints. Even as leaders in the Church fail morally, the Catholic Church remains the Mystical Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ. And she’s worth fighting for.” (My emphasis.)
By continuing to write Catholic fiction, I hope to spread the beauty of Christianity and the truths of the Catholic Church, which transcend the moral character of her human leaders.
In the words of Peter Herbert, in A Severe Mercy: Our Time of Visitation “Our job is to obey and to entrust everything to His mercy and love and to the protection and intercession of Our Lady.” The ending of the Bible makes it clear – God wins.