Memories of a Catholic Youth

I was never abused, sexually or otherwise, by a priest or nun. Priests and nuns were figures of dignity and authority. They were aloof at worst, kindly and caring at best.

Attendance at Mass, which began as a boyhood obligation, became an anticipated and uplifting event. The Mass was in Latin, but it was not mysterious to anyone who parted with a few dollars for a missal. The majestic language of the Mass then took life and never dulled, no matter how often repeated. Its glory was not tarnished by being translated into the language that we used for mundane and sometimes harsh and profane discourse.

That the Church was a human institution, with a share of humanity’s scandals and scoundrels, was to be expected. It was not cause for condemnation of the Church as the keeper and teacher of a faith that enriched lives and gave meaning to them.

My lapse of faith came when I was a college sophomore, in both senses of the word: a second-year student and a know-it-all. Whether or not I ever return to the Church, I will not (and never have) joined the chorus of critics who condemn it for their own failings or the failings of a small fraction of its clerics.