Rod Dreher, a voice adored by some conservatives and despised by some progressives, always speaks his mind with utterly clear prose. You don’t have to be a conservative to feel the blunt end of this bad-boy description:
Looking back on it, it was not sexual abuse by priests that caused me to lose my Catholic faith. It was the chronic lying and deceptive actions by bishops, and the inescapable conclusion that they could not be trusted to reform the Church. I knew back then that a lot of them were gay and personally compromised — McCarrick first among them — and that the “good bishops” — those who actually believed what the Catholic Church taught, and who lived chastely and celibately — were ultimately never going to criticize their brother bishops or take any risks to talk openly and frankly about the crisis. I was faced with the unavoidable conclusion that nothing serious was going to change in the Church, and that I had to accept that as a Catholic.
The laity, by and large, did not care. They were satisfied to believe the bishops’ reassurances that they (the bishops) were on top of things, and were leading the Church to a better place. If I was going to stay Catholic, I had to get to a place inside myself where I could live with that. I tried for a year after coming to the conclusion that the bishops were a hopeless case. Mind you, there was a lot going on inside me theologically then, and I was wrestling with all this in a context in which parish life was nothing but a Sacrament Factory. In the end, I reached the point where I simply could not accept that my eternal salvation meant being in communion with those bishops — and, in fact, given how my own anger at the lies and the injustice was eating me away inside, my salvation might depend on breaking that communion.
I’m not interested in arguing with anybody today on the theological errors I may have made there (so don’t even try posting on that; I won’t approve those comments). I’m speaking here to how emotionally overwhelming it is to realize that the bishops of one’s church are so out of touch with what it ought to mean to be a decent Christian, and to come to believe that there is no lie that they will not tell — either by commission or omission — to protect their status.