A listener named Margaret calls into the show asking for some Fatherly Advice. She shares that she is angry with the Church because her oldest child was abused by a priest, and her grandson with special needs had to be removed from a Catholic school due to a lack of resources to assist him. She asks Father Dave how she can heal from the resentment she has toward the Church.
Father Dave points out that Margaret has valid reasons to feel angry. “Anger is one of those emotions that really does need to be physically and viscerally expressed somehow. … If we can find a healthy channel to do that, it’s better than bottling it up inside. … Until you deal with the anger it will be an issue for you.” Father Dave assures her that the Church cares about her healing.
He suggests expressing the anger to other Catholics who have been through similar experiences. “Not in a way that you get together and gossip about the pastor. But maybe in a context where lay people have been away from the Church and been hurt by the Church and are now feeling in a better place and can be a listening community and sympathetic ear.”
He explains that this context may be helpful for her in expressing her anger and finding healing.
“Sometimes we get conflicted inside without even knowing about it,” Father Dave says. “We feel guilty about being angry and thinking maybe we are angry with God. Sometimes, subconsciously, we think that is wrong. One of the ways I think we can be free from that is to give ourselves permission in our prayer to God to express that we are angry and ask him to help us to figure out how to deal with this anger.”
Margaret shares that she recognizes that it is people who have hurt her and not God or the Church as a whole. Father Dave encourages her to look back to an experience in her life in which she was angry with someone and how she healed from that. “Maybe it may be helpful to think of times and ways in which someone else who is not from the Church angered you. And what was that healing or reconciling process like? I think sometimes we will put up a special category for the Church, and we don’t treat it like other things. So, if it wasn’t a priest who angered you, but it was your boss, then I think emotionally we process it differently. So, maybe finding ways in which that might be similar. And remember, the Church doesn’t mandate that in order for you to heal or experience the genuine Christian notion of forgiveness that you have to be friends with them.” (Original Air 6-12-18)