If you are referring to the publication of “Beleaguered Church Hears the Call for Apology” in Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry, then unfortunately, yes, that is my poem. I never thought I would be a voice of outrage in and toward an institution that I have loved my whole life and from which I have gained so much, the Catholic Church. But so it is. This poem is not the only one I’ve published lately which looks, shall we say, askance at the church, but it is the best.
America Magazine published an insightful article online, April 8, 2019, “How are grassroots Catholics responding to the sex abuse crisis?” Its authors, Sean Reynolds and Dobie Moser, cofounders of Mustard Seed Consultants, facilitate group workshops about the Catholic sexual abuse crisis. They use the work of George Wilson S.J. to examine levels of doubt among the participants. I regretfully see that I fall into the category of Ethical Doubt, which is one remove from Absolute Doubt, people for whom the Church has proven permanently and deeply corrupt and basically irrelevant. This article helped me identify and categorize my own intensity, but also it is helping me understand why I get so annoyed with conversations that try to deal with the issue on the level of behavioral or procedural fixes. I look around at my Catholic kinspeople and wonder, What are we thinking? Can this possibly be okay with us?
We need women priests, married priests— yes, but we need more than that. We need institutional reform, apologies, restitution—yes, but still more. And deeper. We need metanoia, a complete transformation. We need prayer, humility, corporate and individual penance. A whole new presence in the world. We need God.
Back to the poem: I’m grateful to Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry (2019) editor Mary Ann Miller for choosing to publish this poem in a venue for readers and writers interested in Catholic poetry and, presumably, Catholicism. For whatever reason, I have felt morally obligated to get into print these jeremiads. I hope I’m done.