In the Gospel reading this Sunday, Jesus said that his kingdom is like a field filled with wheat and weeds.
And I find myself being the servant who is asking Jesus to pull up the weeds.
It’s exhausting to remain in a Church whose sacraments and teachings I love, but whose leaders continue to display a preferential option for the institution over a preferential option for the vulnerable and those whom have been harmed by clerics. Doesn’t Jesus see how much harm they’re doing?
And Jesus’s response to me, like his response in the Gospel, is to wait on him.
I’ve felt called to wait in a place of tension between knowing the truth of the good that I’ve experienced in and through the Church as well as knowing, in personal ways, how bad the Church’s leaders can be. The temptation is to relieve the tension and deny one of those truths: Maybe the good I experienced wasn’t real… Maybe the bad things people did were justifiable…
This week, I talked with Colleen Dulle about exactly this experience.
Colleen is an associate editor at America Media and co-hosts the weekly podcast, Inside the Vatican. I’ve been listening to Inside the Vatican since it first started. It’s a Vatican news podcast that “goes behind the headlines” with intergenerational reporting from the co-hosts, Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connel. As a fellow millennial, I’ve always valued the perspective that Colleen brings to their discussions. So I was thrilled when she agreed to be a guest on PFG.
We begin by discussing two stories from the Vatican this summer that, while not directly connected, have left me with the impression that the Vatican still can’t be trusted to prioritize those who have been harmed by priests: the accusations against Fr. Marko Rupnik and the elevation of Archbishop Fernández to head the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith.
I then talk about how, as a Catholic who deeply loves Pope Francis, whose faith life has been transformed by his teaching and pastoral example, it’s really difficult for me to reconcile his participation in the Church’s culture of clerical coverup and protection.
Colleen shares some of her own stories along with a quote from the French mystic, Madeleine Delbrel:
“For the Gospel to reveal its mystery, no special setting, no advanced education, no particular technique is required. All it needs is a soul bowed down in adoration and a heart stripped of trust in all things human. […] Unless you take this little book of the Gospel in your hand with the determination of a person who is holding onto his very last hope, you will neither be able to figure it out nor receive its message.”
It was a joy to talk with Colleen. I hope you find as much value in my conversation with her as I did.
This episode is now available on Youtube and on your favorite podcast app.
*Content warning, this episode discusses abuse and includes some strong language.
This week, Paul and Dominic have a conversation with Colleen Dulle, co-host of the Inside the Vatican podcast. We first discuss the disgraced former Jesuit, Fr. Marko Rupnik and his history of sexual and spiritual abuse. Colleen summarizes the accusations against him and the Vatican’s response. The second story is about Archbishop Fernández’s appointment to the head of the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, specifically his controversial kissing book and his handling of clerical sexual abuse in his diocese. Finally, we have a personal discussion about how these continued scandals affect our faith, our trust in the Church, and our trust in Pope Francis.
Colleen Dulle is an associate editor at America Media, where she co-hosts the weekly news podcast Inside the Vatican. She writes and edits Vatican news and analysis articles for America Magazine and contributes to Sacred Heart University’s “Go, Rebuild My House” church reform blog.
Timeline: What we know about former Jesuit Marko Rupnik’s alleged abuse—and the questions that remain
New Vatican head of doctrine says he made mistakes in handling abuse allegations against priest
Inside the Vatican podcast
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Paul Fahey lives in Michigan with his wife and four kids. For the past eight years, he has worked as a professional catechist. He has an undergraduate degree in Theology and is currently working toward a Masters Degree in Pastoral Counseling. He is a retreat leader, catechist formator, writer, and a co-founder of Where Peter Is. He is also the founder and co-host of the Pope Francis Generation podcast. His long-term goal is to provide pastoral counseling for Catholics who have been spiritually abused, counseling for Catholic ministers, and counseling education so that ministers are more equipped to help others in their ministry.