To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 20, and Nikko Lane at OnePeterFive

To Kill a Mockingbird Jem Scout Dill

Three children have snuck into the Maycomb, Alabama, county courthouse to hear a trial. The children of the defense attorney, Scout and Jem, and their friend Dill. They sit in the “colored” balcony, because they’re not supposed to be there. It’s too ‘grown-up’ for them.

The accused is black, and everyone but the children know that he will not get justice. At one point during the trial, while the prosecutor cross examines the defendant, something in eight-year-old Dill begins to realize: the truth doesn’t matter in this courthouse. He starts crying. Jem and Scout take him outside for a breather.

A town fixture named Dolphus Raymond sits outside the courthouse, drinking from a bottle in a paper bag. He tries to comfort Dill. “He’s crying because the world hasn’t gotten a hold of him and made him blind to its meanness.”

Raymond offers Dill a sip from the bottle to calm his nerves. Jem and Scout are horrified at first, but turns out: it’s not whiskey. It’s just Coke.

…That’s us, those kids. Sitting outside the courthouse. They went inside to hear their father do his work. They assumed that all the people running things there were basically honest. It had never occurred to them that there are such things as corrupt judges and county prosecutors. Just like we sons and daughters of the Catholic Church assumed. Until the summer of 2018.

Now we’re sitting outside the courthouse in a daze, trying to dry our tears.

We, too, need a little sip of Coke. Here’s one. Excerpts from an article called “The Laity Action Plan for Our Dark Times.”

*

The pope has no answers for us. Do we really need them at this point?

The bishops he has promoted defend him and continually deflect public attention away from him and his camp. And what do we lay faithful do? We sit, we worry, we ruminate, we pray.

Is this enough?

With the hierarchy covering for themselves and their allies amid this scandal and the lower clergy without the power to implement change in this present pontifical climate, our Church leaders remain static. It seems the Church, like its lay members, as an institution (innocently and guiltily), is stalling, waiting for change to occur with a pope who has given no indication of making changes and reforms, no indication of admitting fault, no indication of stepping down.

Let us not forget what started all of this: sexual abuse of minors, adolescents, and adults alike by clergymen and the continued cover-up from the lowest to the highest levels of the Church. These victims call for us to break the static, even when it is apparent that Francis and company have no intention of acting on anyone’s behalf but their own.

Being the voice of Jesus Christ’s Church when society will call you crazy is what sainthood is all about… This is especially true in light of the scandal: when the Church’s leadership are outed as perpetrators of injustices against the people, the Church will require strong, saintly lay defenders of the faith moving forward.

The best way to seek our Lord’s consolation is by getting back to the basics of our faith. Attending daily Masses on a regular basis, spending time in adoration with the Blessed Sacrament, and engaging regularly with a confessor in the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation are all wonderful ways we can return to what makes us Catholic – and thus seek the solace we so desperately need as His damaged but unbroken Church.

Let’s reclaim our place in the Church as its driving force. This starts with the seemingly mundane, daily activities we can take part in in our local parishes. Be a strong leader of your parish. Get involved. Join councils and committees at your parishes and in your dioceses. Be the support the victims in our own communities need.

The strength of our Church as a whole starts with you. It starts at home.

What does this have to do with the scandals we face today, right now? Pope Francis calls us as lay Catholics to lead the Church out of a scandal that he refuses to face. So be it. This is how we lead.

While the response by the Church’s leadership has been unacceptable up until now, Pope Francis may get what he asks for. He calls us to take this scandal into our own hands. Through his inaction and silence, he may be inadvertently provoking us to do just that. Take Pope Francis’s influence for what you will, but the lay faithful will be the force the Church needs to overcome this dark time. These initiatives – fervent prayer; a desire to defend Church doctrine, tradition, and values; and enabling ourselves to lead our Church on our local levels – may seem small, but the Lord moves mountains with our small actions.

Mother Teresa put it wonderfully: “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” That’s what our Church needs right now. That is what we can do.

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5 thoughts on “To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 20, and Nikko Lane at OnePeterFive

  1. Reading this post and “The Laity Action Plan for Our Dark Times” helped to lift my spirits on this dark day. I can no longer bring myself to read the daily meditation from the book THROUGH THE YEAR WITH POPE FRANCIS. May God forgive me for this if I am wrong, but the words don’t touch me at this moment. Thankfully I still have my wonderful book of daily readings from the spiritual classics to rely upon each morning.
    “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Heb. 4:16.
    Even as I am writing this, the scandal and the Pope’s picture are on my nearby TV.
    Judy R.

  2. Laity Action Plan is excellent but incomplete. What specific actions should lay leaders take to “break the static?” Any such action will lead to conflict with a bishop or bishops. Are lay leaders prepared to risk being involved in such conflict for the sake of the church’s integrity?

  3. You are always in my, (and others) prayers. “We” have designed a group, any can join, offering the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, for you and victims.
    Our prayers, and deep concern for a resolution for this deep , awful break in trust and love of those in the church , grinds deeply in our hearts.
    God Bless you and know that we love you.

  4. “the lay faithful will be the force the Church needs to overcome this dark time. These initiatives – fervent prayer; a desire to defend Church doctrine, tradition, and values; and enabling ourselves to lead our Church on our local levels – may seem small, but the Lord moves mountains with our small actions.”

    I completely agree with this sentiment. Each year, I teach a class in my diocese called The Apostolate of the Laity. It’s about these precise things–our calling as laity and how we can be more effective in the life of the Church.

    What I’m struggling with is that people are crying out for an investigation into McCarrick and others. And as much as the laity might want such an investigation, we can’t make it happen. Ten of us cannot simply say that we are the new investigation team for the Church in the U.S., and we’ll report back when we’re done. No–we need bishops to agree to the process, to open up diocesan documents to the investigation, and the like. Ultimately, we need the bishops to initiate the process.

    Without that leadership, the laity’s role is limited. It’s no less important to lead the spiritual charge, but the lawyer in me also wants to lead an investigation and see some practical results. I’m praying that someone in the hierarchy has a moment of fervor at the USCCB meeting or otherwise to get the process going.

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