Today the Church is facing a crisis of historic magnitude. It seems each day we learn about another case of sinful acts perpetuated by members of the clergy, with the greater sin being the cover up. In addition to our Episcopal leaders, who else knew about these cases and why did they not speak up? Was it fear of retribution, fear of condemnation, fear of exclusion, fear of failure or fear of people leaving the church and having a negative financial impact on the institution? If the public knew about these atrocities shortly after they happened, would the damage to the Church’s reputation be of such magnitude? Which is worse, the cover up or the sinful acts that are affecting people’s trust in the Church? This fear of transparency seems to be what is keeping the Episcopal leadership from disclosing the truth. As Christians, when we know who Truth is, we learn that the only fear one should have is the fear of our sinful nature that can separate us from God.
The primary issue affecting Marian Central and the primary Catholic feeder schools within the McHenry Deanery centers on one simple theme: dysfunctional leadership. This style of leadership evolves from a lack of transparency that over time contributes to callous and insensitive behavior by the leaders. Over the years and on multiple occasions, we have seen our priests voice such concerns to the Rockford Diocese leadership only to be ignored and shunned. It seems that the more vigilant our pastors were in expressing these observations, the greater the Diocese resisted their appeal and recommendations. If we continue down this path more souls will leave the Catholic faith and abandon their support of Catholic education.
To quote a well know Catholic speaker (Mathew Kelly): “Be Bold – Be Catholic!” But how do we challenge our Church leaders without being disobedient towards the Magisterium? How do we engage discussion in such a way that leads to positive solutions that can restore trust in our leadership while strengthening our faith? How can such a discussion help us to shine a light on mistakes made by our human nature? Will we face retribution and be shunned from Church authorities for engaging the community in such a discussion? What do we have to really fear if our end goal is creating a bi-lateral discussion between the lay faithful and our Episcopal Shepard leading to positive solutions involving our community? Such solutions are ones that respect the laity and give them a place at the table, utilizing their time, talents and treasure, versus excluding them from this process. These solutions embrace the Universal Church’s tradition of bringing the faith to the people, while embracing their traditions with clear alignment to the teaching and practices of the Church. This approach shows respect of the people’s views and nurtures reverence of the Magisterium, a critical aspect of the Catholic faith that has kept the Church together for over 2,000 years.
Many people are asking who is behind this website and the We Are MC movement, whether to trust the intentions of these efforts, and why the anonymity. Then again why didn’t the laity in Pennsylvania and Boston speak up knowing the cover up of the atrocities by church authorities? At what point do we, the laity, speak up, especially when we know that faithful priests and religious have already voiced similar concerns to their Episcopal leaders?
The launching of this website has opened a door for our community to engage in such a discussion, and will start by sharing lessons learned from past mistakes and knowledge of what has made Marian Central a success. Over the last few years, we know that such knowledge and experience has not yet been heard by our Bishop, despite many attempts by our priests to discuss them. We are at the point now where such discussion must be shared with the broader Marian community, which will be done over a three-part narrative: 1) the glory years up to 2012, 2) the transition period from 2012 to 2017 and 3) the renewal period 2017 to May 2018. Many members from the Marian community who have first-hand knowledge of these events will be contributing to this narrative.
In closing, we want to re-emphasize the intention of this website and the goals of the Friends and Families of Marian Central:
- To share an accurate account of the last 6 years with an emphasis on the lessons learned and how our Marian community came together in the beginning of 2017.
- To demonstrate that a path of transparency is necessary so that our community can know the facts and truth, and request constructive solutions from our Episcopal leadership.
- To create a desire of our Bishop to listen to his priests and laity, and deploy a different approach towards the Marian community. One that will create an atmosphere of trust with each other and in our Church authorities.
- To strengthen our faith through prayer, fasting and almsgiving and act in a peaceful and charitable way throughout this journey. Such works give the best witness to our faith and show the world what it means to live our lives as Christ commands – with love and mercy toward one another.