Church in Crisis?
Recently I received an email from my cousin in Washington state. Will Tusken in one of my readers and never fails to comment on a new novel. He believed that WAITING was my best and ‘most mature’ writing so far. (I hope to surprise him with something better this year).
Anyhow, Will grew up as a Catholic and is a very spiritual man–though not a practicing Catholic to my knowledge. He does know that I am Catholic to the bone. In my last story my protagonist puts himself in a situation where he has an opportunity for closure on something that has plagued his priesthood through my past seven novels. He loves Mary Reagan, and has for many years. They have a son together from a post-high school tryst but my priest–Father Mickey is not made known of it for thirteen years. Mary moved to Florida and raised Michael as a single mother and kept her secret from all but family . . . and family was never told who the biological father was. Anyhow, through a bizarre circumstance (after all a novel is fiction) he learns of his son.
Fast forward . . . over the years Mickey–a restless and unpredictable character who is his Bishop’s greatest headache–rises in the church due to his natural charisma and oratorial proficiency.
Will has wanted Mickey and Mary to be married and raise their son together. I have often wondered how many other of my readers have the same sentiment. To date, however, Mickey and Mary have a unique but, in many ways, and unsatisfying relationship.
Being a Catholic I would be remiss to say that I am not seriously bothered by the scandals of my church’s clergy. Sexual abuse has been rampant around the world and made even more heinous by the secrecy and coverup apparent in the hierarchy of the church. For years seminaries were a magnet for gay/homosexual men who preyed upon youth like sex-starved preditors. Strong language I know. The question my cousin raised is one that has been bantered about for generations–should heterosexual Catholic priests be allowed to marry? Of course, celibacy would be an option for those who choose it. There is no Scriptural mandate in this regard–only Church or Cannon Law. And, even more importantly, seminaries around the world must be cleaned up and those in positions of authority who have aided and abetted sexual misconduct must be excommunicated along with the abusers themselves. I sometimes wonder if the manipulation of offenders goes to the very top of the Catholic Church. Recent news stories–allegations– have caused grave concern regarding South American clergymen known to be friends of Pope Francis.
Food for thought that this writer will deal with in his final novel next year. Hopefully there will be some positive outcomes in the establishment of several necessary reforms before then.