Will the Recent Church Sexual Abuse Scandals Affect Your Dating Life?
By now, I would guess that every practicing Catholic adult in the country has heard at least something of the recent news, scandal, sexual abuse, and the cover up within the Church.
If you’re not a news-watcher and somehow didn’t even get the low-down from social media, then you’ve most likely at least heard it addressed in homilies, bulletins, or even letters from your bishop read aloud at Mass.
A lot of Catholics are angry – with good reason. I would venture to say that all of us are saddened by the disturbing news. Pope Francis was recently quoted declaring an all out war against sexual abuse within the church:
“I make a heartfelt appeal for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors both sexually and in other areas, on the part of all authorities and individuals, for we are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth. This is demanded by all the many victims hidden in families and in the various settings of our societies”
Even if we haven’t been personally affected by the abuse, this scandal is going to affect our lives in a lot of ways. Potentially even your dating life.
The Catholic dating pool is shrinking
To most of us who are strong in our faith, it might seem a little bizarre that some people are reacting to the news by leaving the Catholic Church altogether. They can’t outrun the atrocities committed by certain members of the clergy by leaving behind the religion the abusers happen to belong to.
The question of whether Catholics are leaving the Church over the news is actually even a common enough thought that NPR posted a survey about the issue on their website, to gather information for an article on the subject.
While we can hope and pray that our fellow Catholics remain strong enough in their faith to whether this storm, the reality is that, at least to some degree, people are leaving.
This sounds like pretty bleak news to all of us. But to a single Catholic who has experienced first-hand just how few available Catholics are out there for them to date, it might sound even bleaker.
These days, a good date is hard to find. At first glance, this scandal only intensifies this problem, if people are in fact leaving the Church.
But we have to ask ourselves if this first-glance conclusion is necessarily true.
The difference of a strong faith
Hopefully for you and me, the temptation to leave the faith is not a strong one.
Terrible things have happened (and are perhaps still happening) within our Church. But these evil, human actions don’t change the divinity of Christ or of the Church He instituted.
As I’ve seen several people say on social media lately, we shouldn’t abandon Christ because of the sins of Judas (or Peter).
The Catholics who are leaving, though, don’t see the matter so clearly. So we have to ask ourselves what the difference is, why they are falling prey to this temptation of desertion.
While sometimes a true ignorance of the Church’s divinely instituted nature might be part of the cause, we are probably not wrong to assume that for most of those Catholics who are leaving, their faith was never that strong to begin with.
If it weren’t this huge, obvious abuse crisis, there would be something else, some other turn-off that could cause people to leave.
Sometimes, it’s an unwillingness to submit to the rules of morality the Church holds us to for our greater good. Or it could be in the petty disagreements of everyday life that some of us run into with fellow Catholics.
The bottom line is that it is hard to be a faithful Catholic for any number of reasons.
So it might look like your small pool of Catholic dates and potential spouses is dwindling by the minute. But in fact, those who are quick to jump ship might not have been the best get-you-to-Heaven partner you could have asked for anyway.
The good news for your dating life
It might seem hard to pull some shred of optimistic good fortune out of this situation we now face as a Church, but I’ve seen it first-hand: people are talking.
I’ve had conversations about the news with family members who wouldn’t otherwise have been exactly prone to discuss religion at all.
My husband has told me that his coworkers have gone out of their way to bring it up to him and get his view because they know he’s a Catholic.
Even in your dating life, this tragic news can actually be the start of some holy, enlightening dialogue with someone you’re just getting to know.
Never before have we faced such a confusing, tumultuous time to be people of faith (okay, there were some spots in the Middle Ages when things were pretty dicey, but you get the idea…).
So use the opportunity to look for someone whose faith will not falter when things get tough. Because no matter what is going on with the Church, things will definitely get tough in a future marriage someday.
The good news for all of us
Things seem bleak right now in the Church, there’s no denying it. But even amidst this scandal, there is hope and the possibility for joy.
Christ is still here. It is still His Church. Things feel dark, but He has not abandoned us and will not abandon us.
So don’t despair of the possibility of finding someone who is as determined to stay Catholic as you are. Christ can get us all through this moment of difficulty.
He is able to lead you to someone who understands your desire to stay true to Him.
Adrienne Thorne is a Catholic wife, mother, screenwriter, and blogger, as well as author of the Catholic YA romance novel SYDNEY AND CALVIN HAVE A BABY. She blogs about TV and Movies from Catholic perspective at Thorne in the Flesh: A Faithful Catholic's Guide to Netflix, Hulu, and More.