It was early in the scandal, the revelations were just appearing in the Boston Globe, and I remember that morning very well.  Priests had been raping children, there had been settlements, hush money you could call it, numbers of priests, and the silence was being broken.  The first names were appearing on the front page of the newspaper, a list, as I recall, and there he was.  Father Barrett.  I remembered him, I was a kid then, I was about ten or eleven when he came to our church.

How could I not remember him.  He was the cool priest.  Young.  I think he may have started the folk masses, you know, with guitars.  I can't be sure.  I'm sure he set up the youth basketball team.  Two of those settlements I was reading about in the paper, two of them, they involved Father Barrett, with boys from my church, something about a cottage in Maine.

I've been thinking about Father Barrett a bit these days.  I mean, it's not as if I knew him well, I'm not sure he even knew who I was, certainly nothing ever happened with me, it was all news to me that morning with the paper.  But I've been thinking about Father Barrett a little these days because I've received an invitation, an invitation from the Pope.  He wants me back again.

You see, I'm not a Catholic anymore.  There's a long story there, too long to tell right now, but I've had a meandering journey out of the Catholic church, I tried being an atheist for a few years, though I was more of an agnostic, and I did my thing with the Unitarians for a very long time, but it never quite felt religious to me, and I ended up home with the Episcopalians.  You know, the Anglicans, Church of England.  I mean, I found myself with the Episcopalians really because I encountered some Anglican monks and that was really it for me.  Lots of incense, no pope, and a hard headed, progressive view of God in our lives.

But there's some trouble in the Anglican church these days, there's this bishop up in New Hampshire who has a male partner and he isn't shy about it, and lots of Episcopalians are upset about this, first they allowed women to become priests and now they've got gay bishops, and all hell has broken loose.  But the Pope, the Pope sees some advantage to this, a way to heal an historical schism.

He's inviting me back.  He's inviting all of us back.  He's inviting the Episcopalians to become Roman Catholics again.

Well, he doesn't really want all of us.  He doesn't want those of us who support the gay bishop.  And I don't suppose he wants my monks.  One of my monks, he's also the bishop here where I live, one of these monks just decided that Episcopal priests where I live can perform same sex marriages.  That's not the kind of Episcopalian the Pope is after, I suppose.  And I guess, to be honest, the Pope doesn't really want me.

It's odd, when I think about it, because I'd been thinking for some time that the opposite should be taking place, that Catholics who were unhappy with their church and not sure where they belonged really ought to take a long look at the Episcopal church, a place they might find familiar in the right ways.  Maybe that's what we need now, a big exchange, organized at the highest levels, the Catholics take all the Episcopalians who don't want those fags becoming bishops and the Episcopalians taking all those Catholics who've had it with the hypocrisy and the lies.

I didn't know Father Barrett was having some problems until I read about him that day, some years ago now, in the newspaper.  It wasn't because of his troubles that I drifted away from the Catholic church.  But it didn't make me feel any better about the place.  You may not know this if your parents didn't take you to a Catholic church when you were young,  but its not easy to get it out of your system.  They've had two thousand years at figuring out how to get deep inside you.  But the story of Father Barrett and the other priests confirmed for me that I was never going back.

Father Barrett was not convicted of a crime, there were only those settlements.  He ended up in a mental hospital and died in 2008.  I don't know his story and I don't suppose I ever will.  I was only a boy, I barely knew him.  And for that, I suppose I should be thankful.

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Anonymous said...

i took a deep, deep sigh having read this blog entry about Fr Barrett and your experience of church. much of this story I can relate to myself. Thanks for sharing this. I'm an Aussie man aged in my mid 50s. no details required for now. just call me Paul.

Adult Sex Toys said...

my journey is similar to yours. peace and love

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