As I continue to follow and live within the crisis enveloping the Catholic Church, I am struck by what is not rendered visible, at least in the printed reactions and reflections I have read (and I am here talking only about Roman Catholic ones). The reflections seem to fall dominantly within one of two camps: either various attempts at analysis — why, who, how, and what is at the roots of this crisis — or prescriptions — of how best to respond to this crisis and its causes so that something like it will never happen again. Somewhere in between fall the many, many pained reactions from Catholics around the globe. And this crisis does meet each of us in a differenty way. As someone who has had her own struggles with the Vatican, its offices, and its highest ecclesial court (over teaching appointments at Catholic Faculties), I experience the current crisis in ecclesial governance and leadership as nothing particularly new. What sustained me then continues to sustain me now: the insight that my baptismal belonging to this church always also means the willingness to be ashamed of what I belong to. Belonging and that willingness go together, there is no belonging — not even in the Church — outside of that pain.
Amidst the many important analyses of the current crisis and the many deep insights on how best to respond, I wish we could also own the basic truth that our baptism and our belonging to this church call us, simply, to bear the pain of being ashamed. No analysis of who really is to blame — pedophile priests, non-accountable bishops, an aloof curia, a laity that doesn’t demand enough, a media-deaf pope, the New York Times, secularization, etc. etc. — can take that burden from us.