In the second article of a three-part series, The Beacon interviewed Rev. Tim Weed, program director for liturgy and pastoral resident of Shipstad Hall, to discuss the impact of sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic church. Weed was just ordained a priest in April this year.
In late August, a released the names of more than 300 hundred priests. In September, a the detailing the abuse of minors in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in Indiana also released the names of 18 additional priests “credibly accused.”
Weed sat down to share his thoughts about the release of the reports and provided insights on the culture of the Catholic Church.
The Beacon: What were your initial thoughts and feelings with the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report was released?
Weed: In some ways, it’s not a new story necessarily in the Church. Unfortunately this has been news that’s come out since really kind of the big news story in 2002 in Boston, and of course the Portland Archdiocese has had its revelations. So, in some ways, this is kind of a continuation of that. This is stuff that should’ve come out already. There’s a little bit of sadness. Obviously, deep heartache for the victims of the abuse. It’s hard to imagine someone who has gone through the process of becoming a priest to actually do something like that. It’s mind boggling.”
The Beacon: How does that impact you as someone who’s just entered the priesthood?
Weed: It’s a challenge. But I think that if you spoke with anybody who's entered the seminary in the last twenty years, you know what you’re getting into. The Church is not perfect. And the people who are in the Church’s hierarchy are not perfect. That doesn’t excuse the actions, by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s this sense that what the Church needs right now is good priests who are willing to live the life that they are called to.
I mean, if we truly accept that this is a calling from God, as a vocation, then it’s up to those of us who have accepted that call to live it as best as we possibly can. In some ways it’s a little bit of a struggle just being ordained back in April and then having a whole new set of revelations kind of bombshell dropped. I’ll admit that’s a little discouraging at times.
But we’ll get through this. And it will be hard. And it will be uncomfortable. And it will require some healing and really kind of some reckoning in the Church. But that's also what motivates me about this. I love the Church, and I believe that what the Church teaches about God and about Jesus and about life in general is true. So, if I believe that that’s the truth, then I’m not going to despair necessarily because of the actions of people.
The Beacon: What do you think the Church should do?
Weed: I would echo what a lot of other people have said. The Church needs to come clean. The time for people thinking that cover-ups are okay is way past, and it’s time for people to address that.
The Beacon: Do you think there’s any part of Church culture that contributes to pedophilia and coverup?
Weed: Sin. Pride. It’s an abuse of power in some ways. You’re always dealing with that human desire to protect that which you know. Sometimes that just manifests itself in absolutely the worst possible way. It’s a human instinct, but it’s not necessarily a good human instinct. We need to get past that somehow.
The Beacon: What would you to say to UP student who came to you and was struggling with this and their faith?
Weed: First, I would say they should be troubled. If you’re not troubled by this then you need to check your priorities. But I would also say that it’s important to distinguish the Church from the people in the Church. If what we say is true, that the Church is something given to us by God through Jesus, then there's a perfection and a beauty in the Church that also has to reconciled with human failings, sin and the fact that history is replete with the failures of people who are supposed to be as good and holy as bishops, cardinals and popes.
I would also point to the fact that if the Church was purely a human endeavor, it probably would not be around today. But 2,000 years after Jesus, we’re still trucking along and slogging through. I would say to someone ‘Pray, pray for the Church and pray for bishops.’ Pray especially for those have been victims, who are survivors. Pray for their healing. And don’t be afraid to call out an abuse when you see it. It’s something that needs to be called out when it’s seen and not just hidden.
The Beacon: What would you like Catholic students to know as they struggle with this?
Weed: That there is brokenness in the Church and in the world. Acknowledge that and pray for it, and pray for healing. But that also, realize that there is a lot of good in the Church. One of the great joys that I’ve had being a priest is being able to work alongside many great faithful Catholics and Christians here on this campus. And remember that we are all part of the Church. The goodness that’s in all of us is the goodness that in is the Church. As long as we stay committed to that, there is lots to hold up in the Church to see God’s presence in it.
Wes Cruse is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.