I was raised in the Catholic faith. I attended Saint Canice Church and school in Pittsburgh, grades 1 through 12. Our graduation was in 1959. I was taught by the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Baden, Pa., an exemplary group of women that taught us well. They are still very active at their Baden location. They have many outreach ministries including homeless, veterans, battered women, prison and others.

Look them up. The priests all seemed to be fine gentlemen. They were strict, no-nonsense people. There was never any talk that any of those men and women were anything other than fine persons.

News of the pedophilia problem has been bothering me for years. I was hoping this church would do something very serious and noteworthy to show their concern. Seven years ago after the diocese of Seattle declared bankruptcy, I thought that something serious was going to be done. But what did they do?

Over the course of time they saw fit to change the common prayers and chants. Books and prayer cards were printed and re-printed. One could only wonder how much money was spent by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for travel, meetings, and yes, those prayer cards. They spent my money to make that happen. It looked to me like as bricks were tumbling out of the building, they chose to smooth out the very minor imperfections in their sidewalks. Money was spent on something very minor when something major needed addressed. At the time I expressed my displeasure, with a letter to the then bishop of Greensburg. In the mean time I reduced my donation to my church and re-directed additional money to the Sisters of Saint Joseph. I have to be a good steward of my resources.

Granted, the Church has taken extensive steps to mandate that any person involved in any church ministry must have a clear, legal background check. I have one myself. The average person in this world does not know that these steps were taken. It’s time the Church takes a look at how they appear from the outside. “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved,” are no longer enough. It’s time that some kind of “brick and mortar” entity is formed that it’s sole purpose is to administer to the welfare, maybe even legal and psychological welfare, of our youth. It should be built up and act as a beacon for young folks. It should be held in as high esteem as the Catholic Charities is viewed.

Funding for this organization should come directly from a church sale. I propose that every piece of gold paraphernalia, cups and all, and those fine fancy robes and such, be sold. All that is needed is to “un-bless” them. After all, churches are being unblessed and closed at a scary rate. So apparently it can be done. Our bishops look so silly, any way, walking around in all of their finery. Read Matthew, Chapter 23.

Whenever the word “Pharisee” is mentioned; think “bishop.” Luxury cars should never be driven by the clergy. Everybody knows what brands they are. I’m sorry, but non-practicing and non-Christians view this as hypocrisy. I know this first hand. I have two sons, raised in the faith, that no longer attend church. They see right through this stuff. Granted, much of this gold and fancy cars were donated by well meaning people in the past. I have to imagine that they were given with love and good intentions. Be that as it may, I can only assume that they would be proud to see those items used for a greater cause.

I read my Bible every single day. There is plenty of reference in the Old Testament to God The Father not desiring much splendor around his house. There is no reference at all to Jesus using anything out of the ordinary. If you believe that God made all of the Earth’s elements, then you know that he made all elements used in glassware and stainless steel. That’s all that we need.

When I was young and in the Navy I spent a short time in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I attended a Puerto Rican Catholic church. I was young and could not believe that a church could look so sparse. Worn tongue-and-groove floors. Worn seats. Almost no sign of anything grand. The priest said the Mass. We prayed together. “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am.” It worked.

Pray as if it all depended on God; work as if it all depended on you. It’s time to seriously go to work. The sisters of Saint Joseph are praying for everyone. Who wants to go to work? I would be willing to support a project that would make a clear, positive difference in the lives of children.

Knowing what the world knows about the human body and how it works, I wish the Church the very best when it comes to celibacy and the priesthood. It may be noble, but it’s also not natural. I also wish the best for the Catholic Church in their quest for a more perfect organization. In the mean time; I consider myself blessed when it comes to worldly possessions and intend to remain a good steward of those resources and see that they go only to causes that I feel are correct in the eyes of God.

Robert Barth is a resident of Perryopolis and a member of Saint John the Baptist Church.

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