August 20, 2018

My Faith Has Been Weakened

I grew up thinking the Holy Catholic Church may have been something that it wasn’t.  I also understand that there is no such thing as a perfect institution or organization in today’s world, even the Catholic Church, but I had a respect for the Catholic priests or the representatives of Christ on earth that put them a notch above the other men on the face of the earth. My Church was held to a higher standard that existed in any other organization. The Holy Catholic Church was the one Church that Christ had established to carry on His mission or at least that is what the Baltimore Catechism said.

Today, I want the damaging accusations to stop. I am tired of what appears to have been a cover-up of gigantic proportions for decades. The Church strayed from the mission of Christ. I understand that sins were committed especially by the men I held to higher standards. I also understand that the media thrives on the criticism of the Church. But the criticism, the accusations, the alleged abuses now seem to have escalated to the highest ranks of the supervision of the Church – the Bishops and Cardinals.

The approach that the Church took at the time, which is estimated to have been the early part of the 20th century, was to hope that the problem went away. Unfortunately, by failing to recognize what the issues that the Church was dealing with, the Church at that time, compounded the problem. I doubt if there was any conspiracy in place to keep moving priests that had displayed tendencies that were not normal or abusive to another parish. The approach may have been to hope that forgiveness was possible and in a new environment, the ability to salvage the man’s career, may have been possible. I think the problem was larger than anyone in the Church at that time was able to comprehend.

The hierarchy of today’s Church may have to step back, and recognizing the problems that exist, take a pro-active approach to addressing the issues. It may have to move from the defensive position that it has taken, especially the one of denial, to becoming pro-active in restoring the faith to the masses of Catholics that are looking for an answer to these accusations. I cannot say that I am all that happy about admitting that I am Catholic especially when I know the questions and accusations that will be forthcoming. Our priests were not always perfect but there are thousands of good and faithful men that are part of the Church and should not be judged by the sins of their brothers.

We must, as a Church, address the issue head on. I get real tired of some paper running a full page article about an alleged abuse by some cleric or priest that happened 40 years ago. I am not disputing that fact that it may have happened but if the Church is ever able to move beyond this sad state of affairs that exists, we have to admit that abuses occurred, and become pro-active in returning to a state where we view our priests as men who promote the life of Christ and are respected as true representatives of Christ on earth. Otherwise, we will promote the status quo for ever.

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Written by
Donald Wittmer

DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati's Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.

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Written by Donald Wittmer