LETTER: Catholic Church ‘mess’ taxes the faithful, but hope endures

To Ozaukee Press:

A few issues ago, Father Guy Gurath, a retired Catholic priest, opined in an In My Opinion column in Ozaukee Press about the status of the church in today’s world. He stated that the “outcry across the world against the church has been devastating.” His primary opinion related to the mess that the church has been undergoing for the past 20 to 30 years in respect to clergy sexual abuse, primarily of young people.         

Father Gurath referred to a letter writer in one of the country’s major newspapers who asked, “Seriously, why would anyone stay Catholic?” This was in response to Pope Francis’ limited response to the recent meeting he had in the Vatican with the cardinals and bishops whereby he failed to elaborate on the specifics on how he was going to cope with the problem. Father Gurath wrote, “It is truly heart-crushing to be a practicing Catholic in today’s church.”

The church has a long history of disagreement within its structure, especially when Constantine broke with the Catholic center in Rome and moved to what is now Istanbul, forming an Eastern Church. When the “popes” of the two churches excommunicated each other, the split became a forever departure. In 1965, Pope Paul VI and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Anthenagoras agreed to remove the excommunications, but the split remains.

Further departures from the Catholic Church occurred in the 16th century, primarily led by Martin Luther, who disagreed with Rome on the interpretation of “the way to salvation” and the sale of indulgences to lessen or remove the time in Purgatory.

Much of the current mess in the church on how to handle the sexual abuse by clergy is still being discussed by many. But it is now out in the open, and will hopefully become a thing of the past.

Father Gurath also commented on the fact that “Jesus did not join celibacy to the priesthood.” Unfortunately, Pope Francis did not discuss any changes in his recent meeting at the Vatican with the cardinals and bishops. Perhaps that will take place at a later date.

In the meantime, there are numerous married priests and deacons who serve the needs of Catholics all over the world, and the church continues. Those of us who have struggled with this mess continue to believe in the church as the way to follow Jesus Christ. Yet all of us who are believers in God are obliged to follow his words to “love and respect one another.” Father Gurath ’s words pretty much summed up this obligation. Only patience, and time, will tell.

Gene Haas



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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