The fact that it took a grand jury report to force Philadelphia’s Catholic hierarchy to do something publicly about alleged child sex abusers among the archdiocese’s priests would have made my mama shake her head.
She would have sucked her teeth and said, “Lord, ain’t that a sin and a shame.”
My mother was an extremely devout Roman Catholic. Not only did my brothers and I go to Mass on Sundays and every weekday morning before school, we also went to confession Saturday afternoons and attended Novenas to the Blessed Virgin Mary on Monday evenings.
The Allen Family was in church one way or another each day of the week.
While having the utmost respect for priests, nuns and others in religious life, Mama also knew they were just people.
She suspected priests were capable of doing bad things with little kids long before revelations started surfacing in the American church.
I vividly remember being extremely mad at her in grade school because she didn’t want me taking “private” golf lessons with a much-loved priest in our parish. I’ll call him Fr. Smith.
At first, she agreed to let me go with him, but changed her mind after one outing and wouldn’t explain her decision. “I’m the mama and you’ the child,” she sternly scolded.
Fr. Smith was my friend and I liked him a lot, especially after he lent me his 7-iron to practice with on my own. I kept it in the corner of my bedroom where it reminded me of how angry I became with my mom.
Did she have a frank conversation with Fr. Smith? I doubt it. That was during the time when priests still said Mass in Latin with their backs to the congregation. My guess is few lay people were even cognizant of pedophile priests in the 1960s.
Today, Mama’s motives are crystal clear and I’m grateful she did whatever she could to prevent a child from possibly being harmed — without having to be told.
Too bad the same can’t be said of some Catholic Church leaders in Philadelphia.