I think of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement that began during the depths of the Great Depression, and which continues today to give care and comfort to the forsaken. I think of Thomas Merton and his outspoken protest of the Vietnam War. I think of the Catholic bishops who stood side by side with César Chávez in his fight for justice among the farm workers of California's Central Valley. I think of Archbishop Óscar Romero and the struggles of San Salvador. And I think of blighted neighborhoods across America where all-but-ignored nuns, priests, and committed laypeople offer hope to the nearly hopeless through soup kitchens, schools, and community centers. For them, and for energetic Catholic women I work with and teach -- so unjustly banned from a priesthood that sorely needs them -- the importance of justice-making always exceeds the importance of collars and confessions.
Tragedies come and go; issues like labor and immigration burn bright in the public consciousness for a time and then are forgotten. Long after the rest of the world has moved on, however, often enough the Catholic Church alone continues to affirm economic justice, offer a moral critique of capitalism, and, most importantly, insist that a radical love of the powerless and marginalized is the truest form of faith.
All this makes these latest reports of priests molesting children -- and getting away with it -- that much more upsetting.
The above are thoughts, helpful at this time for all of us, of Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, a protestant and president of a seminary.