Who should be apologizing?

In today's Grand Rapids Press, Juanita Westaby announces her shame of being Catholic, her ruminations about leaving the Catholic Church and finally, "apologizes" to everyone who's ever been hurt by a member of the Church. (You can read her column here: http://www.mlive.com/living/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2010/04/juanity_westaby_as_a_catholic.html ) All of this is in light of the priest abuse allegations and scandal now swirling in Europe.

I have a problem with this. Honestly, I have more than one problem with this, but let's tackle one thing at a time.

Who does Juanita Westaby think she is?

The sexual abuse of any child is a horror. The sexual abuse of a child by someone who should be the safest person to that child (a teacher, a relative, a pastor, a youth group leader) is made more horrific by the total depravation of a child's trust. The sexual abuse of a child by someone who is meant to represent Christ is beyond horrific. None of this is at question.

It does not appear that Ms. Westaby has ever committed such a crime. Neither, as a life-long member of the Catholic Church, have I. And I'm not about to apologize to anyone for this horror. Am I wrong, or is she?

She says, "All the wishing in the world on my part won't change that [the betrayal of the victims]. My lifetime faith in this church is not enough. I can't do anything about this, except one thing." And that one thing is to apologize.

I also cannot imagine what an apology from this seemingly nice lady would do for ANY victim of anyone who's been hurt by the Church. That's an empty apology if I've ever seen one. What is the value of an insincere, misguided apology?

I also would tell her that she should save her apologetic breath and pray for all the good priests who cannot hug a kid without casting suspicions on themselves. She should pray for the souls of all those who played checkers with the guilty priests, moving them from parish to parish like plastic play pieces on a game board. She should pray that the spirit of forgiveness can penetrate the souls of the hurt, the damaged, the victimized, and that healing can be realized for all of them.

By offering an apology on behalf of the Church, the Church is further scandalized. That type of apology is empty and the people who truly need to be held accountable are "off the hook", so to speak.

We, the Church, should not settle for this. And I'm not apologizing.
(photo from freefoto.com)


  1. I have to agree that it makes no sense for Juanita to appologize on behalf of the Catholic Church and/or it's members. What makes even less sense is that she wants to leave the church, because of it. The world is full of abusers and victims; sexual, verbal, emotional, physical abuse. Abuse and victims aren't exclusive to the Catholic Church, if Juanita is going to appologize on behalf of the church, is she going to appoligize on behalf of the entire world. Is she going to drop out of life too? Bad things happen to good people...it is sad, it is unfortunate, but it is indeed a fact. No matter what religion we are I don't think we should be focusing so much on whom did what, but on praying for the victims all over the world that they find strength to get thru whatever abuse they have suffered and for the abusers that they find the help and god's love to get them thru whatever they are suffering. Abuse happens, it is not exclusive to Catholics. It is sad and unfortunate that it does and has happened and sadder yet to realize it will continue to happen. Perhaps Juanita might consider finding a way to do god's work in helping the victims thru prayer or conseling and forgiving those that trespass against us. I understand her reason for appologizing, but it helps no one.

  2. I've seen several of this type of article run in various venues the last few weeks. All I can figure is that they serve the dual purpose of increasing the readership as well as giving the writer their 5 minutes of fame. The purpose can't possibly be altruistic because how in the heck would such an 'apology' serve the purpose of the victims, as you point out?
    Ms Juanita et al would do better to remember the statement by the late, great Dorothy Day: I love the Church not for what she is but for what she claims to be.


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