The saints bear witness to what the Church really is. This is not an uncomplicated witness. St. Mary MacKillop, who was (possibly) punished for reporting accusations that a priest was sexually abusing children, is in the cloud of witnesses alongside St. John Paul II, who protected Fr. Marcial Maciel from much-needed investigation. But the saints who experienced abuse witness that God has not abandoned the abused person, that abuse is never His will, and that there is a place for abuse survivors in the Church: in our litanies, interceding for us, honored by all who turn to them in need, heard and beloved by God.
These saints are words in a song whose meaning is the life of Christ. They are members of His Body; their wounds pour forth His Blood. Jesus, stripped and humiliated, subjected to a form of torture which, like many tortures, had an element of sexual humiliation–Jesus, in His violated Body, in His suffering at the hands of religious leaders who should have been the first to hear His call, in His abandonment by the disciples who should have shepherded His flock–Jesus teaches us what our Church is by welcoming us inside, through the doors of His Wounds.
Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at www.MatthewAndMaggie.org