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They’re meeting at the Vatican right now. They’re calling it the Protection of Minors Summit. And they’re addressing the elephant in the room — or, more fittingly, the sacristy — sexual abuse by priests. So far, the Catholic Church has addressed this scandal in fits and starts. There has been some transparency, as various dioceses publish lists of “credible accusations.” Nuns, too, are finally having their #MeToo moment. There have also been some bitter disappointments, like cardinals who blame homosexuality for the crisis, or the leaked regulations governing priests who break their vows and father children.

Will this summit do anything to really address the grotesqueries that have occurred in the Church? Maybe. But only if true root causes are examined. Chief among them? Clericalism. You know, the whole attitude of “only I can make bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ; only I am special; therefore, whatever I do cannot possibly be wrong.” It’s a poison that too many “men of God” have swallowed whole.

I am waiting to hear the results of the summit, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m also not leaving the Church. My faith isn’t in people. It is in God. The community I choose to practice my faith with is, by and large, a good group of people. Bad priests don’t represent my faith any more than Hitler represented patriotism. But I want to see my Church do right.

Jesus set the table at the Last Supper, and I know Him to be inclusive. It’s time to add a leaf to the table. Let clerics eat humble pie, and allow new voices to be heard. Invite married folks, women, LGBTQ. Let them speak. If not, the Church is sunk. And no summit on earth will bring it back.



The leaves that started to turn are off the trees. Winter has murdered Fall with icy fingers. Or skip the poetics: It’s cold out there. On Monday, it was 72 degrees. On Wednesday, 25. We never did get an autumnal blaze of glory. Tulip-lovers are planting bulbs with gloved hands, wondering how they lost their window of opportunity so quickly. Rarely have the seasons changed with such brutal rapidity.

Still, there are warm moments: The Pope has announced that Vatican bathrooms will be outfitted with showers for the use of homeless people. The Supreme Court upheld gay marriage in Kansas, opening the door for a longtime friend of mine to officially cement her relationship with her beloved partner. Thanksgiving approaches and folks online and out in the world are expressing gratitude, collecting for the needy and just generally upping their spiritual game.

Let us not be dismayed at the freeze, meteorologically or metaphorically. Faith is all about seeing the good among the wicked, the single flower in the snow, and hanging on to it with all one’s might. Some might ask why. I prefer to ask why not. Why not take every little bit of goodness and roll it up into a ball and stash it in your pocket to keep you warm against the chill of bad tidings, war and injustice?

My spirituality makes some people nervous. How can I believe in God when X, Y and Z are happening in the world? How can I stay with a church that excludes, that cannot take a step forward without groans of protest and threats of further retreat? The answer is: I don’t know; I just do. Somewhere, in the small, still center of myself, I know what I know. God is love. I need to be in a place where change can be effected. Goodness will triumph in the end.

When winter winds blast you, why not stand with those who are trying to keep warm, whether through good deeds or religious faith? I know my choice. Come on over — our love will keep us warm.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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