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The Catholic church is wrong, but I’m still Catholic

Student defends her reasoning for remaining strong and rooted in her faith

Written By Rachael McKriger, For The Globe

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Church has always been a common, consistent theme in my life.

From the time I was a young child, I attended church with my mother. As I grew up, I never really fell out of going to church. I went to Catholic school at Our Lady of Fatima in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, up until my graduation in eighth grade, and then moved on to public school.

I still attended church through those years and frequently came home during my three years of undergraduate studies at California University of Pennsylvania, to go to church on Sunday.

There is hardly a Sunday when I’m not at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Crescent Township, Pa. I have a strong faith – and an even stronger church family.

When the grand jury report on thousands of documented reports of child sexual abuse came out, I was stunned like other members in my church. There have been scattered reports over the years of child sexual abuse, but this was
massive.

Over 100 priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh were named on the list, which was part of a large report done by the grand jury. Luckily, when scanning the lists, neither of my priests’ names were on there, or the priests that I grew up with at Our Lady of Fatima.

After years of being told the Catholic Church was a safe place and one of the most reverent religions in the world, the doubts came creeping back. I have struggled with my faith before – and in a spiritual aspect, I still do.

I am not your normal Catholic; I believe that people of the same gender should be allowed to love each other. I believe in the death penalty and it’s hard for me to imagine Jesus Christ walking on water when, scientifically, it’s not possible.

And if you know me, I hate science. So, that’s saying something.

However, I’ve always found faith in the Lord and in knowing that there’s a higher power. Again, I am not your normal Catholic. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. For me, that’s just an easy way out of taking responsibility.

No priest that found their name on the grand jury list can say that everything happens for a reason. There is no justifying the actions that went on. My heart goes out for the survivors – the people that endured such abuse.

But, I am not taking the action of leaving the church.

I am a firm believer that one bad apple should not spoil the whole bunch. The Catholic Church has had issues dating back to the founding of the religion.

There are questionable people in the church, but there are some good people and leaders. I am a fan of the reverend Pope Francis – born Jorge Mario Bergoglio – and his views on a new, 21st Century church.

Because of the grand jury report, I am more cautious of the church and the pastors that take their place at the head of the church. However, I am not leaving the church because of my faith and my church
family.

However, people need to be held accountable. All of the priests listed in the grand jury report need to be jailed. Bishop David Zubik – whom I met for the first time a few weeks ago when he confirmed one of my basketball students, Emma, as I served as her sponsor – needs to resign or be removed.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl – the man who confirmed me way back in 2011 – needs removed from his position. His name is already being taken off of North Catholic High School in Cranberry Township, Pa.

Change needs to happen, but faith shouldn’t be shaken.

That’s what the Lord is there for anyway. When times are tough, we as Catholics turn to God for guidance. I’m not a normal Catholic that believes that God has a path for us, and we’re just following it. No, I believe that we make our own path, but God can be a helping hand, guiding us through difficult
decisions.

We’re making our own path as humans. I call on my fellow Catholics – especially younger Catholics – to not lose faith, but hold people accountable, to help survivors in any way possible and see the signs of abuse.

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