2016. The Year that I vowed to open my heart to life again. To love.
Here we go now.
Opening my heart means being open to everyone, and everything…. and that includes being open to the idea of church too.
Like any adult, I have had my heart broken many times. By friends, by family….by lovers. But none more profoundly than the church itself.
I grew up in a very traditional Roman Catholic family, and spent much of those growing up years in Catholic schools. It felt like the remainder of that life was spent in church.
I thought the church was not so different from my parents- strict but loving. Maybe even a little ( a lot ) scary
I thought that the church was a safe place.
Then one day, I found out that one of my brothers had been molested by a priest.
From there, the blanket of faith and security I felt, completely unraveled…
I have spent many years watching my brother dig himself out of the depths of despair. I have watched him stand up for himself and go against the church. I have watched as church members and even family questioned his story. I have watched the church deny knowing about this priest… and I have seen them fight the records being unsealed and released…. which revealed not only did they know…. but that they promoted him anyway. These files incidentally, were so large that every time I tried to open on my computer, it crashed.
They protected the predator, and not the children who were entrusted to their care. They were the evil that they were supposed to save us from.
They lied about it. They made every attempt to cover it up. And when they could no longer hide, they forced these victims to have to take them on publically and legally, to find any kind of restitution.
But it didn’t end with my brother. I would later come to find out that it had also happened to several boys in my class. Boys that I grew up with and loved.
It happened to other classes and children too. I don’t know the exact number and I don’t think I want to.
And then, when my heart was already broken and tattered…came the news that still my mind can’t quite wrap itself around. My best friend in grade school.. someone I had lost touch with over the years…… was now in prison. He himself had become a predator.
I cried for an entire day. Literally. I cry still.
I cry for the innocence that was stolen from him, from my brother, and so many.
I cry because I am angry. I am so angry still years later, at a church that went against everything it professed to stand for.
I cry because they broke my heart.
I cry because I still can’t find it in my heart to forgive them for what they did.
I cry because they stole my ability to trust.
I still believe in God. I love God with all my soul and I try to live the best life I can. I do believe I am saved.
But there is a deep sadness in my soul that I no longer have a church I can call home. I don’t know that there ever will be a place for me.
I wish it could be the Catholic church, but I don’t think I can ever go home again.
My heart is broken, and I can’t forgive.