Monday, April 12, 2010

Blogalogue with Paul Campbell: Day One

This week: A conversation with Paul Brian Campbell, S.J., VP for Mission, Identity, and Online Community at Loyola Press whose blog, People for Others inspires and delights.

From the blog description: "Paul dares to believe that people for others will, quite literally, make the world a better place." We start by ruminating about being Roman Catholic these days. Visit
his blog to see what I have to say.

What helps you remain in the Catholic Church during times of crisis?

The cynical and, sadly, partly true answer to your question is learned apathy and inertia. I feel so bludgeoned by what has been happening in the Church since the sexual abuse scandal started coming to light, that I sometimes feel like a turtle that has withdrawn into its shell and is waiting a long time before attempting to stick its neck out again.

There have been moments when I’ve been tempted to flee to some cleaner and tidier form of Christianity like the Episcopal Church or the Quakers. But then, I remember what you recently and beautifully expressed about spending: “...way too much time muttering, 'I’m outta here,' stay anyway and quote James Joyce through gritted teeth: 'Here comes everybody.'"

Another part of the answer is that I myself know how the Church has always been in crisis. If we weren’t being persecuted by authorities, then we were the ones organizing the persecution.

I find that I have to keep going back to Jesus Christ.

I believe that Jesus is the Incarnate Son of God, I believe that He founded the Church (but not the Vatican!) upon St. Peter and his sometimes scandalous successors. Most viscerally, I believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. I cannot imagine being able to separate myself from the Body of Christ.

What worries me most is the thought that by staying in the Church and within its hierarchical structure I am defending the indefensible and collaborating with the corrupt. I keep telling myself that the Holy Spirit is in charge and that what needs to change will change. Trouble is, of course, with the Church you need as much patience as God has…



  1. Oh my - this is brilliant. Wow.

    Thank you Meredith and thank you Paul. I recently discovered People for Others and it quickly became must read material.

    Thank you so much.

  2. I left a comment on Fr. Paul's site. It's a long-un so didn't want to repeat here.

    Bless you both for this conversation/exploration ~ long overdue.


  3. Fr. Paul-

    This post was a blessing to me. It read almost as a prayer for all of us.

    I've privately struggled
    as a cradle Catholic over the abuse scandal. More so, perhaps, because in my childhood I was educated and cared for by many good hearted clergy members, nuns and priests, who would never harm a child. Yet I saw abuse swept under the carpet by adults and denied when children tried to report it. I knew this was not acceptable and became a lapsed Catholic for years. I returned to the Church because of my deep rooted faith, which I couldn't deny. But I also won't deny when it is time for change and am an outspoken advocate on disability issues. I believe my experiences taught me never to stand by silently when the vulnerable are being hurt.

    Yet-for the sake of the good work the Church does through so many clergy and lay members, I believe we need to keep our focus on those who would lose out if we all fled and work toward removing or holding accountable those who have caused harm or, having been in a position of power, chose to be a silent bystander to witnessing abuse.

    As a disability advocate and the aunt of a child with a disability, I literally became ill when I read about the abuse in the deaf school. Yet I know about many havens for people with disabilities that have been created overseas by Catholic clergy and lay people where shelter and education is provided in a safe and nurturing way for those who would never be educated, who are considered society's throw-aways. Does my support of this work necessarily mean I am in denial of the abuse that has gone on - or that I condone it? Of course not. Refusing to acknowledge it would go against all I fight for on a daily basis. My support must be and is contingent on changes that require accountability by all- not just perpetrators but witnesses, not just perpetrators but those in positions of power and administrators who fail to act.

    The best amends we can all make, lay people included, is by becoming willing to speak up for those who can't speak up for themselves when, where and how we can, being ever mindful that the Body of Christ includes all of us.


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