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Suggestions for living through the crisis

We lay folks can only begin to imagine what it must mean to be a priest in recent weeks and to wake up day after day to read new headlines about ugly betrayals and awful violations of youngsters that have occurred in the church to which you have given your life. We can only begin to imagine what it must be like to have to get up on a Sunday to face the congregation knowing many of the members come to church after a fresh reading of the day’s scandal.

The loneliness of being a parish priest these days must seem amplified for many; the skepticism of those outside the Catholic community more pronounced.

There is no way around the crisis. We as a church will have to live through it. In the meantime, we can help each other along. The following are some suggestions, by no means an exhaustive list, for next Sunday. Feel free to add your own.

Good morning, Father. Thanks for being here.

We’re all feeling betrayed and know you are, too. We’re praying for you and with you.

There’s beauty still and sweetness and light. Let’s find it together.

Are you free for dinner tonight? Or Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Saturday?

Concentrate on the day, for now. There are babies to baptize and couples to wed and old folks to bury and people to celebrate with. We hope it’s enough.

(And, if it’s true, and perhaps even more so if it’s not): We love you, Father.

Six things to say to oneself beforehand:

The dilemma in life isn’t who to love but who to trust.

Trust, once broken, is ever after a patched up affair. But that’s no reason for withholding it in advance.

Constant compassion wears away stone.

Hell isn’t just for later. Some people live through it here.

The Christian doesn’t wait for someone else to make the first move.

Unrequited reaching out is still outreach.

National Catholic Reporter, April 19, 2002